Nearly twenty-five years have passed since “Space Jam” was released in theaters. The film, which saw Michael Jordan share top billing with Bugs Bunny, spun off a Nike advertisement into a live-action/animated hybrid that grossed a respectable $230 million worldwide on its $80 million budget. Now, after many years in development, a sequel has finally seen release both theatrically and on HBO Max: “Space Jam: A New Legacy.”
The story sees NBA star Lebron James (playing a fictionalized version of himself) alongside Bugs Bunny (voice of Jeff Bergman) having to rescue and reconnect with his son Dominic (Cedric Jones) who’s been kidnapped by a rogue AI known as Al G. Rhythm (a delightfully hammy Don Cheadle). With the help of Daffy Duck (voice of Eric Bauza), Lola Bunny (voice of Zendaya) and a host of other characters within the Warner Bros. “Server-Verse,” a new legacy is staged by director Malcolm D. Lee.
Though no masterpiece, the original film has become something of an absurdly fascinating cult classic among children of the 1990s. Now, the “Tune Squad” contends with a host of new adversaries known as the “Goon Squad.” These consist of the robotic “Chronos” (voice of Damian Lilliard), the serpentine “White Mamba” (voice of Diana Taurusi), the elemental “Wet-Fire” (voice of Klay Thompson), the spider-legged “Arachneka” (voice of Nneka Ogwumike) and the flying beast “The Brow” (voice of Anthony Davis).
This time around, the Looney Tunes are joined by nearly every character in the WB vault that can fit in the film’s 115-minute runtime. The original film was a technical marvel in its time, and has held up remarkably well even today. Now, on a budget of $150 million, Lee makes an incredibly loony visual showcase in its own right with the help of producer Ryan Coogler (“Creed,” “Black Panther”). Combining CGI, traditional animation and live actors, everything from classics such as “Casablanca” to the modern blockbusters of DC Comics are represented. Some cameos, such as the Iron Giant and King Kong are front and center right at courtside. Others, such as seeing Granny (voice of Candi Milo) enter the world of “The Matrix” are more hilariously off-the-wall.
Though the film shares many parallels with the original release from 1996, it also shakes up the material in new ways. Without spoiling anything, some of the cameos and gags will definitely throw you for a loop whether you’re coming in cold or as a longtime fan of the first film.
Whether you’re viewing it theatrically or on HBO Max, “Space Jam: A New Legacy” is a delightfully loony ‘toon sequel and is well worth checking out. It’s worth the wait and has “got the real jam going down.”
Starring Lebron James, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Sylvester the Cat, Tweety Bird, Granny, Elmer Fudd and Porky Pig with Zendaya and Don Cheadle
Directed by Malcolm D. Lee
Available in theaters and on HBO Max (Streaming till August 15), Rated PG