A rogue artificial intelligence kidnaps the son of famed basketball player LeBron James, who then has to work with Bugs Bunny to win a basketball game.
When AT&T took over Warner Brothers and their ancillary companies in 2018, the bean counters in charge made it immediately clear the only thing they were concerned with was the bottom-line. A massive number of jobs were eliminated, television projects deemed too expensive were cancelled and various divisions were consolidated to cut costs. “Space Jam: A New Legacy” was greenlit during this time, a seemingly obvious move to capitalize on the cult reputation of the 1996 Michael Jordan feature.
However, now that “Legacy” has arrived, it’s obvious the Powers That Be had something far more mercenary in mind as the film’s sole purpose is to remind viewers of Warner Brothers’ vast catalogue. In case you forgot, the studio is the home to Batman, Superman, the worlds of Harry Potter, Mad Max and “The Matrix” and has acquired “King Kong,” “The Wizard of Oz” and numerous other high-profile properties over the years. All of these, their characters and many, many more are on full and obscured display here, many of them spectators at a basketball game being played in a computer. Bear with me…
So, here’s the set-up. An algorithm has been created to catalogue, store and utilize all of the characters and films in the Warner Brothers archive. It has achieved consciousness and goes by the name Al G. Rhythm (yes, such subtlety is used throughout). Don Cheadle is the program come to life, the esteemed actor’s presence in this turkey only explained by what I can imagine was a check with many zeroes at the end. Seems Al suffers from self-esteem issues, a problem I would think could be erased with a good debugging program from Norton Securities, but I digress. When LeBron James rejects Warners’ offer to star in a series of projects with characters from the studio’s catalogue, uttering the film’s most honest line of dialogue in the process (“This is the worst idea I’ve ever heard!”), Al gets miffed, kidnaps and pixelizes LeBron’s son Dom (Cedric Joe), in order to hold him hostage in the mainframe. To save him, the All-Star must undergo the same process and win a basketball game within the computer.
Though I can’t think of one off-hand, I know there have been worse ideas for movies that were successful. Unfortunately, there’s a lack of passion here that dooms “Legacy” from the start. LeBron’s team consists of Bugs Bunny and his Looney Tunes’ cohorts, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was rather pleasant to see them once more. The gags they pull are still funny, while the visual jokes prove knowing and effective.
However, the film never finds its footing and slogs its way to the climactic game. There’s no urgency as this is a product of commerce not art. Not helping matters is the obvious theme that’s hammered home again and again. Yes, I know this is pitched to the younger set and the notion that they should have the fortitude to be who they want to be is an important one to hear, but when it’s delivered in a manner that talks down to them, the message becomes muted.
For film buffs, some enjoyment will be found in identifying the various characters from film history who are populating the stands. Various incarnations of the Warners’ superheroes abound, Jim Carrey’s “The Mask” is present and why the Droogs from “A Clockwork Orange” are there is anyone’s guess. Their inappropriate presence speaks to the random nature that went into the making of “Legacy,” as well as how woefully misguided it is.
1 1/2 Stars