HBO Go review: Looney Tunes save LeBron, 'Space Jam: A New Legacy'

Fred Hawson

Posted at Sep 06 2021 04:06 AM

 LeBron James and Bugs Bunny in 'Space Jam: A New Legacy.' Handout
LeBron James and Bugs Bunny in 'Space Jam: A New Legacy.' Handout

One of the biggest movies of 1996 was "Space Jam," a live-action/animated science fiction sports comedy film directed by Joe Pytka starring basketball superstar Michael Jordan being recruited by the Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the rest of the Looney Tunes crew to help them win a basketball match against a nasty bunch of aliens. The film's technical innovations mixing live-action and animation were its most remarkable achievement. 

This second edition of "Space Jam" features current basketball superstar LeBron James interacting with the Looney Tunes characters. This time, the story involves LeBron in conflict with his techie younger son Dom over the new Warner Bros. AI called Al-G Rhythm. Upon Al-G Rhythm evil machinations, LeBron and his Looney Tunes teammates were forced to play against Dom and his Goon Squad, superpowered CG renditions of real basketball stars.

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Alas, skillful as he is on the basketball court, LeBron James was not really a good actor. He was awkward and self-conscious the whole time, it was uncomfortable to watch. However, one could maintain positivity and also find his "acting" to be part of the film's comedy. It was very unwieldy to see Don Cheadle in a cartoonish villain role like his embodiment of Al-G Rhythm here, so it needed some getting used to at first. 

The main entertaining factor of this film remains to be the shenanigans of the Looney Tunes characters. Their looks have remained basically the same since the 1930s, but they get to be upgraded into 3D forms this time around. Their amusing jokes and foolish gags still can tickle the funny bone after all these years. Its brand of silly humor still works especially in the final half of the ball game. They were the saving grace of this film, 

There were a myriad of Warner Bros characters all around (Scooby Doo, Flintstones, Yogi Bear, Gremlins, King Kong, Iron Giant, the Mask etc.) which made it an enjoyable game of "spot and name" for the audience. There were several references to various past Warner Bros films and TV shows -- "Game of Thrones" to the Justice League, "Matrix" to "Mad Max: Fury Road", "Casablanca" to Austin Powers. Little kids probably would not even recognize them, but for adults, it will be fun to see them Looney Tune'd.

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."