If I think back to all my birthdays, from childhood to now, the one that sticks in my mind was my seventh.
A handful of friends of mine went to Burger King, then we watched the 1996 Space Jam in the cinema before going back and playing with my Furby. It was epic and exciting for the child I was, who loved cinema and weird cartoons, and I absolutely adored the film in all its whacky glory.
Over recent years, Hollywood seems to be mining their old movies and using this type of nostalgia to make a quick buck. I’m not a purist, this has been a mechanic since the beginning of cinema. After all, it’s a business. If they can resell a product that has already made loads of cash before, then they will. Between sequels and reboots, they’ve somewhat shelled that wide-eyed dreamer watching cinema for brilliant stories and escaping into different worlds. As adults now, we are now disillusioned and tired by all this forced consumption of our past.
So, I am not a child anymore. I cannot see Space Jam as this whacky glorious film anymore. Especially after watching Space Jam: A New Legacy. Because if any film has exposed the greedy, gluttonous beast underneath the film industry, it’s this one.
The plot is basically the same as the original, except with a few more modern flares. Basketball player LeBron James and his son are kidnapped by a rogue A.I. and trapped in a digital space. In order to defeat the A.I, named Al. G Rhythm for god’s sake, LeBron has to defeat the Goons – a team of powered basketball players. And the only help LeBron has is a collection of looney cartoons. You know…The Looney Tunes!
If Ready Player One was the coffin in which nostalgia films lay, let Space Jam: A New Legacy be the nail to close it forever. This slimy and bloated excuse for a movie should be the type of film that appears in theme park rides so that they can cover the audience in goo or water. It is filled with trashy CGI cameos from classic Warner Bros film which makes you question who they are making this movie for and why it exists in the first place. Certainly, children may be wowed by colourful and silly antics on the big screen as I once was 25 years ago and parents can get their much needed nap in.
Michael Jordan was hardly an Academy Award winner and whilst LeBron James isn’t as bad, he certainly isn’t good either. His acting skills leave much to be desired and he cannot carry this movie for two hours. For voice-work, Zendaya makes a good Jessica Rabbit for the modern era, I guess and for some reason, Don Cheadle is in this as well.
There are a few fair sequences that are surprisingly enjoyable, and the film rallies some classic, infamous Looney Tune humour in order to slam-dunk some jokes. The rest of the film is just a garish mess. It’s so vapid that it is practically transparent; so much so that you can watch this movie and behind the curtain, you can see the salivating marketing team and Warner Bros CEOs drooling over this mad concoction.
Space Jam: A New Legacy will make you feel a bit used. Sadly, I have no Furby to distract myself from this horrible feeling crawling over my skin. But I’m an adult.
That’s what alcohol is for.