Space Jam: A New Legacy

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When asked why he didn’t direct Space Jam, a look akin to vaping rancid butter crossed Joe Dante’s (Looney Tunes Back in Action) face. Then he answered my question with a question of his own: “Have you seen it?” It’s with more than a little outrage that I report that the original is Fantasia compared to the CG throttling Bugs and the gang receive in this belated sequel. “Athletes acting never goes well,” LeBron James winkingly observes. Though he holds his own against the squash-and-stretch horde, the biggest laugh in the film goes to an appearance by Michael Jordan. Unlike their high-minded counterparts at Disney, Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies seldom sent kids packing with a moral to ponder. Better to pile on more animated mayhem than dwell on the soppy live-action exchanges between James and a fictional son who would rather compete in a video game competition than go to basketball camp. The drawings are cold and brittle, the voice work even less appealing. (Couldn’t they afford Billy West?) Right before the climactic game, the filmmakers decide to give Team Looney Tunes a makeover. I’ll accept a black guy playing Alexander Hamilton or a female James Bond. What I won’t cotton to is watching my beloved troupe reduced to dribbling stuffed animals. (2021) — Scott Marks

Rated PG | 1 hour, 55 minutes
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