Warning: Spoilers for the first forty minutes of the film. That’s all I could care to sit through.
Why does this movie exist? It started out as a meme poster, a meme poster which I now suspect was a, and I hesitate to use this descriptor, clever bit of early viral test-marketing. Whether that’s true or not doesn’t matter because I would just as easily believe that somebody in Hollywood happened to see a joke poster of LeBron James and Bugs Bunny and think, “That’s a great idea!” It isn’t, not the way they did it. A disclaimer before continuing: I have not seen the entire movie. I pride myself on being able to switch my brain off and watch dumb stuff. Had I done so with Space Jam: New Legacy, there would have been nothing to experience but the Cosmic Background Radiation of the universe.
I’ll briefly sum up what I took away from my truncated viewing. LeBron James is a terrible dad because he wants his son to play basketball instead of make video games. His son shows him the basketball game he’s making but it crashes and deletes his special character. Warner Bros. disrespects Don Cheadle for several minutes; They also confuse algorithms for artificial intelligence, the latter being composed of significantly more than a single algorithm. Also, Al G. Rhythm. No. LeBron James gets invited to Warner Studios because they want him to be the new face of their movies, literally digitized into any title; “LeBron of Thrones” in particular made me sneer. Warner Bros. disrespects Don Cheadle some more. LeBron and his son get Tron’ed into the digital Warner Cyberverse. Warner Bros. disrespects Don Cheadle some more. LeBron James gets dumped on Tune (Toon?) World. Bugs Bunny turns into Big Chungus and is insane due to being abandoned by the other Tunes after they were offered a better deal by Al G. Rhythm. “You, a famous basketball player, want me, a cartoon rabbit, to play on your basketball team? Sounds familiar!” Bite me.
This leads to a montage of the two flying around in Marvin The Martian’s UFO gathering the big names from various other film planets. Since these include The Matrix and Mad Max: Fury Road, all that this sequence achieves is making me think that I could be watching any handful of better movies. Taz gets dropped directly onto the ship by Rick and Morty who refuse to have anything further to do with him, the closest New Legacy comes to getting a sound out of me via a brief nasal puff. Warner Bros. disrespects Don Cheadle some more. The UFO lands in a comic book (?) where Lola is undergoing initiation as an Amazon Warrior before Wonder Woman. she hears, and then sees, Bugs calling her from the crowd. That pisses her off. That’s also where I bailed out because I felt like I already knew what would happen from here:
[Lola left for a Bugs Reason. She either overcomes her initiation while Bugs and LeBron bumble along, saving their asses and agreeing to come along out of a combination of “I don’t need you, you need me” and “They have my son!”, or Bugs and LeBron aid Lola in her initiation and she agrees because she doesn’t want to owe Bugs. (I didn’t jump to “Bugs saves Lola and she falls for him again” because I don’t think even the execs would have suggested that in 2021.) Obligatory “Get ‘Em Back Al G. Rhythm puts together his team. Every property in Warner’s sphere humps the screen in a glitzy coming together on the big day. The Tunes get their asses kicked. LeBron’s son a) does his father proud and wins the game, forging an new understanding between them or b) rebuilds his game character in the virtual space, helping the Tunes win and opening LeBron’s eyes to the merits of his son’s interests outside The Game.]
I chose to watch New Legacy on HBO MAX due to being ill, which is why I only saw as much of the film as I did. I had the option. Had I been in a theater I would have grudgingly stayed for the admission and concessions prices. I didn’t find it to be a good film, nor did I find it to be a bad film. New Legacy is just a boring film and not even a film, it plays like an extremely meta ad for HBO MAX itself. The amount of referential material on display here makes the Family Guy cutaway gag look subtle and is more obnoxious than funny or exciting. More importantly for me, there’s the writing. Everything that’s happening requires a reason beyond “because Looney” and that just hurts the overall delivery. Moron Mountain. Sucking Micheal Jordan into a warp tunnel through a golf hole. Stealing NBA skills with a magic basketball. Bill Murray. All of those things just happened. Here each and every thing needs an explanation for why it’s happening, and I don’t need to tell you what happens when you have to explain a joke. I didn’t laugh, not once. Not even at Big Chungus. A comedy that doesn’t make you laugh is broken.
If you’re like me and Space Jam came out while you were growing up with Looney Tunes on either Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, or The Bugs & Tweety Show, this movie isn’t for you. It has none of the charm and makes no callbacks. If you’re a kid growing up today there might be a few scraps from memes and more contemporary references to be had but other than those I doubt this movie is for you either.