Space Jam: A New Legacy Parent Guide
This is twenty percent stupid kid comedy and eighty percent ad for other films by Warner Bros.
Parent Movie Review
When Al-G Rhythm (Don Cheadle), the algorithm for an experimental program run by Warner Brothers, finds that his program is being scrapped, he hatches a plan to keep it alive: He kidnaps Dom (Cedric Joe), son of NBA megastar LeBron James. The only way LeBron can get his son back is to enter the “Serververse” where Al-G lives and beat him and his team of digital dunkers at a wacky game of basketball. But the stakes are too high for him to play alone…
Space Jam: A New Legacy is twenty percent stupid kid comedy, eighty percent annoying ad for Warner Bros. intellectual property. I haven’t seen this much shameless product placement since Ralph Breaks the Internet, and that entire movie was an ad for Disney. I cannot stress how much I hate this trend in kids’ movies. There’s always been an element of advertising in film making, but this level of saturation is both infuriating and ridiculously over the top. In fact, the movie even advertises Warner Bros. product that young viewers won’t recognize: At one point our “heroes” end up in Mad Max: Fury Road. Now, I loved Mad Max. But if you think it’s suitable for a child young enough to be watching Space Jam, you and I have totally different views on child rearing. And Mad Max isn’t as weird as it gets. From there, we end up in Austin Powers. Then Casablanca. Then, in a series of positively child-hostile choices, Rick and Morty and Game of Thrones.
More to the point, even age-appropriate advertising makes for truly awful films. Not that Space Jam needs the help - LeBron James may be a king on the court, but he might as well be played by a 2x4 here. And his wooden acting isn’t the only problem. I hate to pick on voice actors, since they’re largely underappreciated, but Jeff Bergman’s Bugs Bunny voice sounds more like an impression you’d hear at open mic night in a dive bar. The worst part is, at any given time, one or both of these characters are on screen. There’s just no getting around it. You can’t escape from the dreadful acting that dominates this cinematic disaster.
There’s no bad situation this movie can’t make worse, and that goes for character design as well. The classic 2D style Looney Tunes are tolerable, but then they get turned into these plasticky 3D abominations. Porky Pig looks like the animators took a pig carcass and waved it over the reactor at Chernobyl until it started moving. At this point, I’m missing the original CGI for Sonic – or worse, Cats. The writing is so unspeakably atrocious, they don’t feel like the Looney Tunes anyway, so maybe it’s just as well they don’t look like them either. This is Ready Player One in Looney Tunes drag.
Apart from all that, there’s not much else about this misbegotten sequel that precludes child viewing, aside from my concerns that it could cause permanent cognitive damage to anyone who sits through all 115 agonizing minutes. (I’m certainly having trouble typing.) The biggest issue is the slapstick violence but it’s the usual Looney Tunes stuff, you know, people are crushed by safes, shot, blown up, and squashed, but they all shrug it off. Unfortunately, my real content concerns have more to do with being forced to watch the unholy 3D Porky Pig (now styled as The Notorious P.I.G.) in an 8-Mile style rap battle. (My condolences to Biggie – no amount of disrespect from Tupac could sting like this.)
Perhaps the most damning indictment I can offer is that this movie reminds me most closely of Tom and Jerry – another soulless corporate sequel, trying to cash in on nostalgia for a classic franchise. Warner Bros. is quickly becoming the prime provider of over-commercialized dumpster fires. I think I’d rather watch an actual dumpster fire, stench and all. At least the fire wouldn’t be trying to advertise, and it would probably have the common courtesy not to take the two hours this movie brutally extracted from my life. In case you’re still on the fence, I’ve seen over 400 films for this job. This is easily one of the worst.Directed by Malcolm D. Lee. Starring LeBron James, Don Cheadle, and Zendaya. Running time: 120 minutes. Theatrical release July 16, 2021. Updated August 7, 2021
Watch the trailer for Space Jam: A New Legacy
Space Jam: A New Legacy
Rating & Content Info
Why is Space Jam: A New Legacy rated PG? Space Jam: A New Legacy is rated PG by the MPAA for some cartoon violence and some language.
Violence: There are repeated instances of slapstick violence, including individuals being crushed, shot, blown up, and hit. No one is injured.
Sexual Content: None.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Granny is briefly shown with a martini, but no one is seen drinking.
Page last updated August 7, 2021
Space Jam: A New Legacy Parents' Guide
What is product placement? How does it affect the films you see? What motives to advertisers and filmmakers have in common? How does product placement differ from regular advertising?
The Guardian: Product placement’s threat to children
How Stuff Works: How Product Placement Works
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If you really like films that combine animation and live action there are far better options out there. With Mary Poppins, Disney pioneered the technology, and used more sophisticated tech in Mary Poppins Returns. Enchanted takes a light-hearted twist on the idea, turning animated characters into real people when they find themselves in New York City.
Angela Lansbury stars as a witch named Miss Price in Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Tasked with caring for wartime evacuees, Miss Price and the children wind up having adventures in an animated jungle kingdom.
Of course, if you want some Looney Tunes/sports fun, the original Space Jam is a much better movie.