Basketball social media went nuts over the weekend when the official first trailer for Space Jam: A New Legacy dropped, revealing NBA cameos, Easter egg animations, and the fact that LeBron James still can’t really act… (Shut up Zach, he was passable in Trainwreck.) Folks went nuts, it played 200 times during the NCAA Final Four and haters threw shade at everything from the Dwyane Wade-LeBron image re-creation to the fact that they “did Diana Taurasi dirty” and that she looked “like the food critic in Ratatouille.” Whatever the online trolls say, this film successfully merged a diverse cast, including NBA players Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson, and Taurasi and with a budget of $161.9 million should be a slam dunk for being a surefire hit.
Space Jam 2 is Finally Here
Online fans said it would be, “Probably the best movie ever.”
“Oscar coming for LeBron!”
“OMG, this is the best film ever made.”
The Long Wait Is Over
The Space Jam sequel has been anticipated since the franchise announced a second film back in the late ‘90s, following the enormous success of the Michael Jordan/Bill Murray original. However, Jordan flat out refused to participate in the sequel (making films is hard work…). And since then, the project has been considered as a vehicle for Tony Hawk and Jeff Gordon and even, at one point, Blake Griffin.
LeBron has been attached to the script since 2014 when he was arguably the best player on the planet. And now, at age 36, he steps into the franchise to battle a new “Goon Squad” with an army of Looney Tunes characters who have all been canceled in the past six months. (Pepe Le Pew was scrubbed from the film for promoting “rape culture” and Speedy Gonzales came under fire by the New York Times for furthering Latin-American stereotypes. Luckily, Gabriel Iglesias defended him by saying “You can’t catch me, cancel culture. I’m the fastest mouse in all of Mexico!”)
I am the voice of Speedy Gonzales in the new Space Jam. Does this mean they are gonna try to cancel Fluffy too? U can’t catch me cancel culture. I’m the fastest mouse in all of Mexico 💨 pic.twitter.com/Ov4wjO00kM
— G a b r i e l – I g l e s i a s (@fluffyguy) March 7, 2021
The original Space Jam was great because of the groundbreaking animation, the pretty stellar soundtrack, and the classic line when Bill Murray describes Larry Bird as “Clear” on the golf course.
“Larry’s not white. He’s clear.”
Can It Match the Original?
One has to wonder if this film will suffer from its lack of a strong comedic co-star. LeBron was decent in Trainwreck playing himself alongside Bill Hader and Jordan had Bill Murray to carry the slower parts of the original. In A New Legacy, Don Cheadle plays the time-traveling guru named Al-G Rhythm – he’s not exactly a comedy force, although I’ll give him props for his banter with Robert Downey, Jr. in the Marvel universe and his Boogie Nights character. Still, if I am one of the five producers of four writers who worked on this film, my first act would have been securing a Jason Sudeikis-like co-star to bounce off of LeBron. To put it quite simply, LeBron’s banter in the previews looks pretty stale.
Re-watching the original film with my son recently was actually quite an experience. The guest star players were rampant throughout. And they made smart decisions casting not only Hall of Famers like Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing, but also popular ballplayers like Muggsy Bogues and the 7’6” Shawn Bradley. These types of players were appealing not only to young NBA fans at the time but also to the moms and dads who knew nothing about basketball but were forced to watch this film anyway. This sequel has its share of NBA players. But they’re all sort of middle-of-the-road guys that don’t fill any cameo buckets, so to speak. Klay? Draymond? Kyle Kuzma? BORING. Give me Tacko Fall, Bol Bol, and Nate Robinson (assuming he can still communicate following that Jake Paul knockout).
One Thing’s For Sure…This Will Be A Lot of Fun
The online community managed to find nearly every hidden character in the trailer to this film, as well, yesterday. The Iron Giant makes an appearance, as do numerous Warner Brothers characters from years past. Fans noticed Mr. Freeze from Batman & Robin, Pennywise from It, and even the Droogs from the ultra-violent A Clockwork Orange. (Something tells me these Droogs characters will be scrubbed from future releases after cancel culture comes after the Kubrick dystopian storyline from 1971.) MARK MY WORDS.
Look, I’m not saying this film isn’t going to be fun. Movies ARE fun and this may be the first film I actually see in a theatre in 15 months… And it will make a few hundred million dollars. Basketball and LeBron are worldwide and I think this could actually shatter box office records when it’s released. The last NBA comedy film to see a worldwide release was Uncle Drew – which slightly underperformed and still made $40 million against its $18 million budget. Uncle Drew had Kyrie Irving, Shaq, and Chris Webber. But LeBron is a different phenomenon altogether. And this will solidify his role as the most popular player in the history of the game. (MJ was the king, but he paved the way for the LeBron dynasty – which is just way more accessible due to social media and international streaming.)
Can Space Jam 2 Live Up to the Hype?
In the past two years, I can’t think of a film that’s been talked about as much as this one. Online rumors of cameos, Zendaya, and even budget concerns have been swirling around my social media feed since 2017. However, with true Oscar-level films out there like Nomadland and News of the World barely scraping together the money they spent on their budgets, this film should do just fine. Over the past year, the world has seen enormous box office success in movies like Trolls: World Tour, Bad Boys For Life, and Soul – which consistently outperform dramatic well-acted films. Basically, Coronavirus has left a need for FUN and escapism, and this film has everything the world is looking for.
How Space Jam 2 Will Stack Up Against Previous Basketball Films
In the history of basketball movies, most of them fall into two categories: The Hoosiers/He Got Game type dramatic dream-come-true films and the Like Mike/Thunderstruck fantasy films. This is obviously in the fantasy realm. But it also has a lot to live up to when you look at the success of the original and the fact that this project has had TWO different directors and more delays than the Sacramento Kings trying to get the ball across half-court against the Hornets a few weeks back. Hopefully, with the Looney Tunes controversies, the director switch, and LeBron as the lead hooper, this film will be better than it looked in its earliest stage.
LeBron James is no De Niro. The Looney Tunes have become outdated and offensive. But basketball is as popular as it has ever been. So, who cares if you laugh when LeBron mumbles half of his words when he delivers a line to his young son in the film? He will be laughing all the way to the bank at the end of this adventure. Space Jam: A New Legacy is probably going to be pretty mediocre, but it won’t matter. In today’s crazy world this film is everything that we need.
Just don’t say that this is “probably the best movie ever…”