Its ok to like space jam 2.
Its ok to criticize it.
I think many have this idea that because something is a “kids movie” it should be critic proof and I don’t understand it because it was made by adults, who are professionals. If it was made by kids I’d understand that logic. But for a movie with Game of Thrones and The Matrix references, I think its safe to say they knew kids wouldn’t be watching it alone.
My issue with Space Jam 2 is I notice something unfortunate happening in the entertainment industry (been happening for decades but now REALLY getting out of hand) where big media corporations are investing much more into owning legacy IPs and marketing than actual writing and creative talent for new ideas, stories and characters. Putting a Matrix sequence in Space Jam 2 isn’t great writing, (like it was in Shrek 20 years ago before every other movie started doing it ) its stunt referencing brand recognition marketing posing as a sight gag. Super Bowl commercial stuff.
Many critics criticized Ready Player One for that however I feel they overlooked the good storytelling and action setpieces in that film that earned, say, its King Kong cameo. The King Kong appearance in Space Jam 2 felt forced and thats before it evoked Denzel’s infamous rant in Training Day.
It just all felt like none of these references made any sense outside of the fact that there are new Matrix movies on the horizon, new Game of Thrones spin-offs, and perhaps more King Kong blockbusters awaiting us as well as an overall streaming service where we can catch all the ‘classics’ referenced for only $15 a month!
Now to be fair, you can say Space Jam 2 itself was inherently predestined to be a feature length commercial being a reboot sequel of what amounted to the unofficial original “most ambitious crossover event in film history” decades before the MCU’s Infinity War. However I think it crosses a line of replacing coherent storytelling with the spectacle of brand recognition in ways the original Space Jam nor the Marvel films never approached.
The final basketball game in A new Legacy is a great example of that. Whereas in the original film, the writers used basic pacing, banter between the characters and the mechanics of basketball (like any good sports film would) to build some tension and stakes. In the sequel there’s just random introductions of some new familiar character or icon or using existing characters to reference something else in pop culture (Porky Pig is the Notorious PIG, because kids would get that) to push the action of the game along. it’s all supposed to be funny or entertaining because, well, you know, we ‘get that reference’. It drags on with this seemingly for twice as long as the game in the original. It doesn’t help that the game is much further away in space from actual basketball than computer processors in 1996 could handle. It all amounts to a narrative mess, that admittedly does keep attention spans due to the sheer amount of things happening at once. Multi-core processors being pushed to the max for the multi-tasking generation who will be watching with a phone and tablet in their lap with multiple tabs open.
Its not without its charms however. Lebron is amiable, playing a somewhat more serious version of his persona he employs for Nike ads. His acting is about on par with Michael Jordan’s, thought this script would’ve exposed Michael Jordans lack of real acting talent as well. The cgi is beautiful to watch throughout, though one can expect that from any blockbuster nowadays, but it does help that they had the tried and true character designs of the Looney Tunes to prop up the overall aesthetics. Kids will definitely enjoy this movie for the most part, however that should be no excuse to overlook its glaring flaws, as kids aren’t hard to please. These entertainment juggernauts know that, which is why it seems they are working overtime to keep us as indiscriminate and wide eyed about all our favorite characters (and icons) and brands as children.