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‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ Review: LeBron James Movie Is A…

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'Space Jam: A New Legacy' Review: LeBron James Movie Is A…

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Through Johnny Oleksinskic

July 16, 2021 | 6:13 am | Updated July 16, 2021 | 8:45 am

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During the endless final run of “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” Porky Pig calls himself “the Notorious PIG” and starts rapping. “This pig is lit,” says the Looney Tune. “I’m super legit.”

Porky should have added, “And my movie is s–t.”

In the pantheon of misguided sequels and reboots, “A New Legacy” tops the list with “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2” and “Little Fockers.” The original 1996 “Space Jam” wasn’t top-notch either, but made money at the box office. So the money-guzzling Warner Bros. took 25 years to work out a follow up that is much, much worse. And they know it.

Running time: 115 minutes. Rated PG (some cartoon violence, some language.) In theaters and on HBO Max.

Throughout its endless, nearly two-hour runtime, the film repeatedly mocks its existence.

“I’m a ball player,” says star LeBron James, taking the reins of the original Michael Jordan, during a pitch meeting with WB execs. “And athletes who act — it never goes well.” This is especially true for cardboard James.

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The villain of the movie is the WB algorithm named, ugh, Al G. Rhythm (Don Cheadle), who is responsible for whipping up all of the studio’s soulless content, like…this!

When LeBron arrives at Tune World, where all Looney Tunes are supposed to live, he finds it largely deserted. Bugs Bunny tells the Laker that his animated friends have left the house for more attractive traits: Harry Potter, DC Comics, “Game of Thrones”, etc. That’s also what viewers have done: today’s kids are way too busy make money with their TikToks watch a cartoon about a hunter with a speech impediment.

The plot, as it is, is pretty much the same as the ’96 movie, except the alien enemy has turned into a computer. The technology infusion robs the movie of fun. Al zaps LeBron and his video game-obsessed son Dom (who isn’t actually his kid, but actor Cedric Joe) in “the Serververse” and challenges him to a basketball game against the menacing Goon Squad.

If LeBron wins, the pair can go home. If he loses, he’s stuck forever – a feeling I knew all too well.

As LeBron recruits his sloppy team, Warner Bros. us watching a lengthy HBO Max ad. Mad Max, Austin Powers, Rick and Morty, Batman, Harry Potter, “Casablanca” and more flash across the screen in a montage, as if to brag about the studio’s vast catalog. It’s one of director Malcolm D. Lee’s many strategies to avoid character development or funny scenes. In the end, LeBron settles for Bugs, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Lola Bunny & Co. to help him win.

All the while, the movie blares its obnoxious “Be yourself!” message like a foghorn. At first, LeBron aggressively pressures Dom to become a ball player like him and forces the teen to practice for hours. “You can’t be great without doing the work!” he says. But Dom only wants to design video games in his bedroom.

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You can probably guess that when the two are sucked into a computer, LeBron suddenly develops a newfound appreciation for his son’s coding skills.

Some of the first film’s problems can be forgiven for its sheer camp value and because it was a true cultural event. Getting Michael Jordan, the most famous athlete in the world, in a movie was a huge job. And the soundtrack of the film, whose big song “I Believe I Can Fly” was unfortunately performed by R. Kelly, went six times platinum.

However, this film is nothing more than a forgettable nostalgic bait.

As with most reboots, audiences are sticking with the old legacy of “Space Jam”.

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