You know the whole story, I’ve written it a million times before. I tell everyone officially that my favourite films are Shawshank Redemption and The Life of David Gale, and though I do like those films, it’s not true that they’re my favourites. A film I could watch over and over again, which is handy because it always seems to be on ITV 2, is Space Jam,
I saw Space Jam for the first time in the cinema when I was about 14 and was finally allowed to go to the cinema on my own (I mean, with a friend, sans parents) and kinda fell in love with it because it was just so daft, but kind of cool too. Since then it’s been my go to comfort, rainy Sunday hungover afternoon film while I plough through a family bag of frazzles and a can of full fat pepsi.
So imagine my delight when a few years ago I found out they were making Space Jam 2. I mean, sequels can be touch and go and how on earth were they going to improve on perfection?
I’d seen Lebron James act in Trainwreck with Amy Schumer and was surprised at how good he was so for me he was an inspired choice for Space Jam: A New Legacy. So far so good. And Don Cheadle is in one of my other public favourite films; Crash. So that was another bonus. As soon as it came out in the cinema, I borrowed some kids in the shape of my niece and nephew (12 and 9), you know, to make it look more legit, and off we went. But what did I really think of Space Jam v2.0, and how did it compare to the original?
Here’s the story: NBA star LeBron James (playing himself) and his young son, who has little interest in basketball, get trapped in digital space by a rogue AI. To get home safely, LeBron teams up with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the rest of the Looney Tunes gang for a basketball game against the AI’s digitized champions of the court (a powered-up crew of basketball allstars called the Goon Squad). If they lose, they get trapped in the digital space forever, if they win, goodness prevails and everything pretty much just goes back to normal.
We’ll start with the good shall we? I like that they’ve updated the story and be all super techy and feature lots about gaming, coding and whatnot, it felt really current and there will be loads of kids who love that element of it. I also like that there were a plethora of references to all things Warner Brothers, for example they had nods to Game of Thrones, The Mask, DC comics and the Matrix so that was quite cool and cleverly done. There were a couple of references to the original film, which of course I could probably quote word for word so they stood out to me but made me chuckle nonetheless. The Animation is brilliant, as you’d expect from a cartoon film made in 2021 and fans of Warner Brothers short cartoons won’t be disappointed to see all the old favourites represented. Daffy Duck, my personal favourite, is always the star of the show and he was suitably featured and naughty so I was happy on that front. Oh and Michael B Jordan makes a brief cameo (good mornin’)
Now, sigh, the bad. At almost 2 hours running time it’s almost certainly 45 minutes too long. Both the build up and the basketball match were miles too long and multiple times I found myself thinking ‘oh just get on with it’. It’s not a sequel nor is it a reimagining which makes me think what’s the point. It’s essentially the same concept as the first film but with just a completely different story (well not completely, cartoon characters and basketball players join forces to save the world blah blah blah) but the fact it didn’t really have anything at all to do with the first film, other than the odd reference, irritated me. I think Pixar movies have spoilt this kind of thing, and bear in mind Pixar wasn’t around as much when the original Space Jam was released in 1996, so perhaps the bar hadn’t ben raised at that point. There wasn’t many, if any, jokes that work on 2 levels, which meant it really is just a kids film. I suspect, although she said she enjoyed it, my 12 year old niece was bored in some places. And Dave thinks it’s two hours of his life he’ll never get back.
Is it worth a watch? Yeah probably, if you have an 8, 9, 10 year old who’s into this kind of thing. Or you feel you or your kids need a lesson in being yourself and working as a team. Otherwise I’d wait until it’s on ITV every other Sunday and stock up on the frazzles.