So I saw Space Jam: A New Legacy over the weekend, and it’s just awful. Just an atrocious piece of cinema, and a blatant attempt to capture nostalgia money from fans of the original ‘90s film starring Michael Jordan. I wanted to wait until today to write anything about it though in order to get the opening weekend box office numbers. Over the weekend, tons of memes on social media popped up about how no one was going to see the movie in theaters. I didn’t watch it in theaters. I ended up creating an HBO Max account to watch the film. So I thought, maybe the movie wasn’t doing as poorly as advertised. Maybe the theater business is still recovering from the pandemic, and because of that, everyone just decided to buy the movie online and watch it that way.
That’s partially true. Space Jam: A New Legacy topped the weekend box office earning over $31 million domestically and an additional $22 million worldwide. The LeBron James flick took the top spot away from an MCU film Black Widow. That should be looked at as an absolute win. However, seeing as how Warner Bros. spent $150 million on the project, this film is unlikely to be looked at as anything other than a failure. The movie’s opening weekend numbers also indicate that the film may not have much staying power. With all the poor reviews of the film coming out as well, the film won’t stay at the top of the box office for long.
Now, we move to the part of this article where I tear the movie apart. Not for a lack of money being made, which I guess is all that really matters, but for being an abominable film. I’ve heard a lot of people defend the film by saying “You know it’s made for kids, right?” and that’s just the worst argument anyone can drum up. I saw the film. There were several references throughout the movie that kids would never understand. What 6-year-old has seen Austin Powers or Mad Max? What child has seen Casablanca? Those, along with the references to the original Space Jam, which albeit, there aren’t as many as you would think, are clearly meant for an older audience. Those bits were meant to connect with the late-20s, early-30s and up audiences. Yet those bits still fall flat.
Just because a movie is made with young children as the intended audience does not mean that it has to be a bad movie. You know what other movie I saw recently for the first time? Paddington 2, and that’s a phenomenal movie. It has zero pop culture references and zero jokes meant for adults, yet for some reason, that movie about a talking bear in a raincoat destroys Space Jam: A New Legacy in every aspect. Toy Story, Kung Fu Panda, The Incredibles, The Princess Bride, Coco, all of these movies were also made for children, but unlike the new Space Jam film, they all tell a narrative that older viewers can enjoy as well. Trust me, I would tear into this movie just as much if it was meant for adults. When presented to a national audience, a bad film is a bad film no matter who’s supposed to see it.
Obviously, I’m reaching for low-hanging fruit by attacking this movie. Everyone and their mother has already done so. Just do a quick google search of “Space Jam 2 review” and you’ll see a myriad of online content bashing Warner Bros. for this absolute stinker of an attempt to profit off of everyone’s nostalgia. I just want to point out that while everyone is talking about how bad the movie is, ESPN continues to praise LeBron no matter what he does. Just read their review. It’s remarkable.
At the very least, this film will be another fun means of comparing LeBron James to Michael Jordan. Obviously, it doesn’t have any bearing on who the better basketball player is. That being said, let me leave you with this thought. In the original Space Jam with Jordan, the Looney Tunes were under attack and recruited Michael Jordan to help him. He was the ace up the sleeve the Looney Tunes needed to win. In Space Jam: A New Legacy, LeBron James is the one who needs help from the Looney Tunes. Without them, King James would’ve lost the game and his son. Wile E. Coyote was the MVP of that game, not LeBron. So, you tell me who’s really the more valuable player.