All the woke pandering by LeBron James couldn’t save Space Jam: A New Legacy from the wrath of movie critics, who no doubt are likely to agree with the NBA star’s anti-police rhetoric and other left-wing positions, but who were clearly unable to muster enough goodwill to give the blockbuster sequel even a perfunctory pass.
The Warner Bros. release has received some of the worst reviews of the year, with critics calling it a “stinker,” and a “big fat airball.” As one reviewer noted, “it all feels like Warner Bros. ingested an emetic and vomited up all their intellectual property.”
Even corporate sibling CNN panned it: “The first Space Jam was hardly a classic, which should temper expectations. Yet even by that standard, this marketing-driven exercise too often plays like the Acme version of it.”
Since last year’s Black Lives Matter riots, LeBron James has taken a series of increasingly anti-police positions, culminating with his social media threat to the Ohio police officer who shot teenager Ma’Khia Bryant in order to protect another young girl. The basketball star tweeted “You’re Next” along with a photo of the officer. He later deleted the tweet.
James’ rhetoric provoked condemnation from the National Fraternal Order of Police, the largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers, which called his threat “disgraceful” and “extremely reckless.”
Space Jam 2 cost a reported $150 million to make and was awarded $21.8 million in California tax credits, one of the largest amounts in the state’s history. The credits are intended to help the production offset certain expenses, but not the salaries of star talent, like James.
Critics have savaged the movie, which debuts Friday in cinemas and on HBO Max.
Britain’s The Guardian called it a “stinker” and a “garish digitized eyesore.” The newspaper saved some of its biggest criticism for WarnerMedia for its shameless mining of its own intellectual property. “In this display of expensive corporate onanism, we arrive at a creative dead end for a studio reliant on classics that they’ve stopped minting.”
CNN, which is owned by WarnerMedia, also panned the movie: “The first Space Jam was hardly a classic, which should temper expectations. Yet even by that standard, this marketing-driven exercise too often plays like the Acme version of it.” James’ acting isn’t “that bad… Still, carrying an entire movie — even with all the animated mayhem around him — feels like a lot to ask.”
Colllider gave it an “F” saying, the studio “essentially made a sizzle reel for their IP.” Ultimately, it’s “a listless, overlong, brand-fetishizing affair that seems designed to appeal to shareholders first and everyone else second.”
The Wrap called the movie “just another exercise in branding” and a “big fat airball.” The movie resurrects everything from the Looney Tunes to, bizarrely, characters from A Clockwork Orange — and manages to waste them all. “You’ve seen movie characters more successfully recontextualized in car insurance commercials.”