When I was a kid, I lived off of syndication and months of on and off cable. My parents were a lot older than the other kids’ parents, so most of my entertainment was their idea of what “entertainment” should be in terms of cartoons and media in general. I guess that is why I was kind of handed Looney Tunes. It was safe, attractive to youth and adults alike, and something we could all kind of bond over. As I grew up, I could probably recite most of the shorts by heart. My favorite character was Sylvester. Oh, and I learned how to draw and attempt paper flip-book animation because I was so inspired by the characters within this wacky universe.
In the era of Nicktoons that were edgy, spin-off products that were meta and made fun of everything your parents liked (like Tiny Toons and Animaniacs), and teenage animation such as Beevis and Butthead, Looney Tunes were the neutral choice. It was kind of a medium that most consumed daily, but didn’t fully discuss outright because it was old hat, even for its time. Then came Space Jam. This little movie had several characters from Looney Tunes partner with Michael Jordan to take on a team of evil aliens in a basketball game. It was such a wild concept, but despite critical ire – it worked, and Bugs, Daffy, Fudd, and all the rest went through one of the biggest resurgences of popularity in modern history. A then sixty-year-old cartoon was revitalized for a new generation. Kids who didn’t know about basketball got hooked on the sport, and kids who never gave the old toon the time of day began to watch as Nickelodeon and several other networks picked up the classics. There were backpacks, toys, and so on just for this film, and forgotten characters were now at the forefront of television yet again – only to fade away as interest waned due to overexposure.
I personally don’t think I have thought about sitting down and watching Looney Tunes for a revisit as it feels like something I have yet to yearn for in terms of nostalgia. Sure, I loved the show, but there is only so many times you can watch Bugs Bunny before you just grow tired of the same shtick and routine. All these years later, Warner Bros. brought out Space Jam: A New Legacy. The concept of the film is about the same, but with a heavier focus on references and celebration of Warner Bros. In general. Add in Labron James, who basically fills the Michael Jordan role this time around, a silly plot about bonding with his son – and you have a sequel that no one really asked for but got anyway. It is a film with rather innocent intentions, attempting to appeal to a modern audience so Looney Tunes can basically make lightning strike twice. I remember rumors of this sequel since the first released, so seeing it finally come to be after twenty-five years wasn’t really surprising.
Before I can really make my point on why I am even writing about something like Space Jam: A New Legacy, I want to take a moment to share my thoughts on the film and get that out of the way.
Space Jam 2 is silly, overstuffed, and sometimes confusing. There is a lot of fun to be had by seeing so many old faces and I even got nostalgic at times with this little cartoon cast that I watched religiously in the 90’s. That said, the movie is long. Like, way too long, and seems to be that length so it can both carry a plot for two full hours and pack in as many references to the Warner Bros. Universe in order to make up for the heart it seems to lack. Don’t get me wrong, the movie is fun and I liked it more than I thought I would. I just wish there was a bit more care applied in many parts to make it stand toe to toe with the first flick. Space Jam was great because it managed to find an odd balance of chaos and warmth. The addition of Jordan was well done as it managed to address his career while telling a story that was accessible enough for kids to understand. The sequel really tries hard to do this as well, but gets in its own way too often with forced gags that kind of ruin the overall flow and consistency of the film.
I don’t know Lebron all too well as I don’t follow the sport anymore, but he does well enough here. Cheadle makes a great antagonist, and even though his role is a bit nonsensical (even for Looney Tunes), you can see that the creators went in with well enough intentions, so it is hard to label A New Legacy as a complete waste of time. Again, I do not know who it really will appeal to in this generation, but it is one of those like it or leave it flicks that I am sure will find an audience somewhere. Also, I am old and think that soundtrack was awful. I kind of summed it up after watching as “eh, it wasn’t my thing but it was fun”. That is really all there is to say critically about this sequel as it’s hard to review something serious when you go in knowing that it isn’t really applying for your own critique.
That is really my whole issue with the existence of Space Jam: A New Legacy. Instead of just letting it be, A New Legacy now seems to have taken the role of the awkward kid on the playground, and has become this universal target on all of social media and news outlets alike. The biggest thing to change since the first film is undoubtedly the very machine that the sequel gets most of its plot from. The internet, or cyber “space”- if you will. Everyone is a critic, and everyone has something to say, whether they know the product or not. I am not saying that people online can’t have a voice, but do we need to really hate this movie that much? I was in a store earlier, and one of the cashiers was asking how this movie was to a co-worker, and the conversation went something like this:
Cashier 1: “Yo, you see the new Space Jam? Heard it sucked!”
Cashier 2: “Yeah man, it was so bad”
Cashier 1: ”Was Rick and Morty at least cool”
Cashier 2: “Nah, the whole thing was bad, reviewers hated it!”
Innocent enough, right? Go onto Youtube and watch the trailer for the movie. Go ahead.
Now go back, and enjoy an algorithm of content that shows around fifty to a hundred men in their late twenties to early thirties in thumbnails with the logo, all putting their hands in their face, acting as if these two hours of time somehow robbed them of oxygen. The reaction is just so cringe. Before anyone states it, no I am not trying to police the internet and I do not care about people having opinions, but A New Legacy is a fine example of why this generation is so terrible and sharing thought that can be taken seriously. What makes things even more ugly is that major publications basically do the same exact thing to quickly draw views as they now compete for views and sponsorship on the same platform, so you have everyone basically bullying a cartoon into submission at once. Even people who did like it utilize the same formula, forming their headlines as a question like “Did Space Jam 2 Suck?”, with a thumbnail that sports a crying Bugs Bunny. These people are being paid to do this. Audiences are viewing all of it.
The issue is not the movie as much as it is what modern “reviewers” consider to be a review. Long ago, reviews used to be a great way to tell someone your own opinion of something, providing a general synopsis of a product with a bit of a personal touch added in so you could share an experience with someone. Now, the concept seems to be to get a click, lean as if you are promoting negativity towards said product, and basically regurgitate the same bit of information that everyone else is parroting on social media. Like it or not, these people have obtained a platform, and they use it in such a negative way, when that negativity is on full display and so impressionable to others. I remember when I was on the playground as a kid, I would always want to play Power Rangers. Well, the world one day decided it was time for me to grow up, and older kids began to make fun of my backpack, my clothes, and any other branded item I owned so I eventually just stopped sharing my own likes and opted to just nod my head and act like I enjoyed the same things everyone else did. That sucked. Considering how big Youtube is with kids, I couldn’t imagine the hatred a kid donning a Looney Tunes sticker on their folder would get, all from just the reaction of this movie.
I can name so many other video games, celebrities, and so on that get this same treatment constantly online. Remember Rebecca Black? She made a song that people hated so much that they universally put their care of the Japanese earthquake on hold to mock a 13-year-old girl. What about Sonic? Who here can go freely into a game store and say they love Sonic without having to pick and choose the parts of the franchise they like in order to simply validate their own opinion, mainly because someone like AdventureBob32 made a meme in his video that said it sucks? Social media allows everyone to have a voice, and it is great for that. Youtube and other video platforms allow normal people like you and me to create accessible content for an audience so our voice is louder. Instead of creating intelligent conversation that provokes thought and answers, people who are old and intelligent enough to know better are basically making careers out of pasting negative garbage that attempts to be objective and true, despite the fact that comes out as drivel.
Everything these content creators are putting out right now about Space Jam’s sequel are exactly what they are making fun of. Videos full of (unrelated) memes and clips, attempting to tear a movie apart without providing any history or context of why they actually hated the film. You say you hate the movie, great! Now tell me why without cursing like you’re twelve, and provide meaningful feedback to the creator with the intention of seeing better movies made in the future. That is what a review should be, and there are a very small group of people who manage to execute this well enough to stand out from the crowd. Is your personal touch you add negativity and foul language because you’re edgy? Great, be mad and stay mad about a movie as that kind of attitude can be entertaining, but educate and inform your audience well enough for them to understand why, so they can then take that opinion away and create thoughtful conversations elsewhere.
I am leaning into my mid-thirties now, and I have written here at Capsule for over ten years. One thing I have learned over time is that a product you review isn’t yours. It belongs to someone else, and your ability to have a platform to voice that opinion it should be valued as it is technically a privilege. I get that a hot topic can make for a lot of views and hits, and the attention and extra revenue you make off it is nice, but can we ease up on the mob mentality when it comes to clicks and hits and simply just share thoughts without stapling the same streams of text together in the same way? Our platform is important. We have the power to potential create positive change across multiple industries. Years ago, an “angry” reviewer spent five minutes bitching about a mediocre game from a publisher, and he did it in a childish manner that was repeated by hundreds of other channels. He got slapped with a copyright claim by the publisher, then made a video of himself whining about freedom – when he just made thousands making a mockery of someone else’s creation. Entitlement is a strong thing.
At the end of the day, I am not going to think too much about Space Jam 2 as I didn’t like it enough to care. I did get a bit of youthful wonder however thinking about my old Looney Tune friends from my childhood, and really hate the idea that they are doomed to the same fate of the Star Wars Prequels/Sequels, with everyone bound to continue the mockery for what will be years to come, all because the same set of content creators and publications utilized their opportunity to share such empty thoughts on multiple platforms. Clickbait is so tiresome anymore, and Space Jam, Looney Tunes, Star Wars, and so on don’t suck, our execution of how we share opinions does, and we need to change that. If we don’t, we are doomed to continue to get the very content we create – entertainment full of references, one-note jokes, and a cringy thumbnails that we then vomit back up to continue the cycle, because that is what gets views and makes money.
Space Jam: A New Legacy is a product of its own critics. Enjoy your creations and the many more that are to follow, but don’t forget to like, subscribe, and ring that bell for even more content in the future.