Tunes vs. Goons. Watch LeBron James and Bugs Bunny in the new trailer for Space Jam: A New Legacy. In theaters and streaming on HBO Max – July 16. #SpaceJamMovie

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Welcome to the Jam! Basketball champion and global icon LeBron James goes on an epic adventure alongside timeless Tune Bugs Bunny with the animated/live-action event “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” from director Malcolm D. Lee and an innovative filmmaking team including Ryan Coogler and Maverick Carter. This transformational journey is a manic mashup of two worlds that reveals just how far some parents will go to connect with their kids. When LeBron and his young son Dom are trapped in a digital space by a rogue A.I., LeBron must get them home safe by leading Bugs, Lola Bunny and the whole gang of notoriously undisciplined Looney Tunes to victory over the A.I.’s digitized champions on the court: a powered-up roster of profes-sional basketball stars as you’ve never seen them before. It’s Tunes versus Goons in the high-est-stakes challenge of his life, that will redefine LeBron’s bond with his son and shine a light on the power of being yourself. The ready-for-action Tunes destroy convention, supercharge their unique talents and surprise even “King” James by playing the game their own way.

James stars alongside Oscar nominee Don Cheadle (the “Avengers” films, “Hotel Rwanda”), Khris Davis (“Judas and the Black Messiah,” TV’s “Atlanta”), Sonequa Martin-Green (TV’s “The Walking Dead,” “Star Trek: Discovery”), newcomer Cedric Joe, Jeff Bergman (“Looney Tunes Cartoons”), Eric Bauza (“Looney Tunes Cartoons”), and Zendaya (upcoming “Dune,” “Malcolm & Marie”).

Lee (“Girls Trip,” “Night School”) directs from a screenplay by Juel Taylor & Tony Rettenmaier & Keenan Coogler & Terence Nance and Jesse Gordon and Celeste Ballard, story by Juel Taylor & Tony Rettenmaier & Keenan Coogler & Terence Nance and Terence Nance. Based on “Space Jam,” written by Leo Benvenuti & Steve Rudnick and Timothy Harris & Her-schel Weingrod. The film’s producers are Ryan Coogler, LeBron James, Maverick Carter and Duncan Henderson, and the executive producers are Sev Ohanian, Zinzi Coogler, Allison Ab-bate, Jesse Ehrman, Jamal Henderson, Spencer Beighley, Justin Lin, Terence Nance and Ivan Reitman.

The director’s behind-the-scenes creative team includes director of photography Salva-tore Totino (“Spider-Man: Homecoming”), animation producer Troy Nethercott (“Wonder Park”), production designers Kevin Ishioka (“The Mule”), Akin McKenzie (Netflix’s “When They See Us”) and Clint Wallace (upcoming “Eternals”), editor Bob Ducsay (“Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” “Star Wars Episode VIII – The Last Jedi”) and costume designer Melissa Bruning (“Rampage,” “War for the Planet of the Apes”). The music is by Kris Bowers (“Greenbook,” Netflix’s “Bridger-ton”).

Warner Bros. Pictures Presents a Proximity/The SpringHill Company Production, a Malcolm D. Lee Film, “Space Jam: A New Legacy.” The film will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures. It will be released in theaters nationwide on July 16, 2021 and will be available in the U.S. on HBO Max for 31 days from theatrical release.

Space Jam: A New Legacy” is a straight-up caravan of garbage.  The film — starring NBA champion and Los Angeles Laker LeBron James — is literally a retread of the original 1996 film with Michael Jordan.

The film opens up with a 1998 flashback of young LeBron losing a youth basketball game because he got too caught up playing a Nintendo Game Boy.  He then learns a “life lesson” from his coach about always staying focused on his goals without giving into distractions.

The lesson is wise if a little cookie-cutter.  It’s also completely anachronistic for kids to be excited about an original Game Boy (which came out in 1989) in ’98 when the Game Boy Color (which had a full color screen instead of black and white) came out that year.

Sure it’s nitpicky, but it’s still a sin!

Fast-forward to modern day and LeBron is an NBA superstar and devoted family man.  Just like Jordan was in the original.  And it’s not unlike how he is in real life.  The major difference:  the original depicted a humble Michael Jordan living in a modest suburb home and the sequel looks partly filmed at James’ extravagant Hollywood Hills estate.

The film’s conflict arises two-fold.  LeBron struggles to connect with his youngest son who — surprise — is more interested in playing and building video games than he is in basketball.  Then a self-aware Warner Bros. “idea algorithm” is angry because LeBron rejects having his consciousness digitized and inserted into as many WB properties as possible.

Ironically enough, LeBron even says, “athletes acting… that never goes well.”  It’s as if the filmmakers ignored their screenwriters suggestions.  Of course, the algorithm — played by Don Cheadle — wants revenge.  Wait… a self-aware AI wants revenge on humans… that sounds vaguely familiar.  But don’t worry, it’ll be fine.

Film Review - Space Jam: A New Legacy

This image released by Warner Bros. Entertainment shows Lebron James in a scene from "Space Jam: A New Legacy." 

The algorithm kidnaps Dom James (the son) to coerce LeBron into a basketball game.  What follows is the aforementioned rehash of the original film while still injecting the ballplayer into the “Warner Bros. Serververse,” incorporating classic Looney Tunes characters among characters from other studio-owned IPs.

The first half of the movie is all about Bugs and LeBron recruiting a team to play ball while Don Cheadle gaslights the NBA star’s kidnapped son to weaponize him against his father.

The film is beyond derivative.  Even Bugs Bunny says the plot is “awfully familiar.”  Did the actual WB studio use a real idea algorithm to produce this movie?  With all of the callbacks to better franchises and classic films, it feels like the unholy offspring of DreamWorks’ “Emoji Movie” and… well… the entire WB catalog.

It’s totally surprising they didn’t visit a Six Flags theme park at some point for cross-promotion.

There are so many side gags and played-out puns prompting the casual viewer to wonder how the film wastes so much padding on a nearly 2-hour runtime.

There’s nothing original about this movie.  Even the young actress playing Lebron’s daughter reminds the audience “this is not going well”; there are so many times characters in the film say what an intelligent audience is thinking.  At least the original had heart.  This is just a cheap facsimile.

“Space Jam: A New Legacy” is out in theaters and on hybrid release through HBO Max.

Space Jam (1996) Official Trailer - Michael Jordan, Bill Murray Movie HD

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Michael Jordan agrees to help the Looney Toons play a basketball game vs. alien slavers to determine their freedom.

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Garrett K. Jones is a local fantasy author.  He currently has four books released in his ongoing series, and he produces a vlog on YouTube and the Creator's Corner podcast (available on Spotify, Google, & Apple).  www.archivesofthefivekingdoms.com/  IG/Twitter:  @gkj_publishing

Feel free to contact him with title suggestions of films you’d like him to review.

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