If the sight of Looney Tunes rooster Foghorn Leghorn dressed as Game of Thrones' Daenerys Targaryen, riding a dragon through a cyber mass of Warner Bros. IP makes you giggle, you might have a grand time watching Space Jam: A New Legacy. If it makes you want to burn down your local multiplex in order to rid that ghastly image from the face of the earth, you might want to ride the bench for this one.
In truth, the latest Space Jam can’t exactly claim to be anything more than another blatantly commercial grab for the wallets of families and nostalgic millennials worldwide. Though like a delicious road-trip cheeseburger you go out of your way to get, it’s the right kind of junk food. Despite Warner Bros. packing as much of its ancillary intellectual property as it could into this already-stuffed affair, the latest Space Jam mostly gets right what the original Michael Jordan one did. For such a baffling premise, those of us who rock Tune Squad jerseys just want to watch an NBA superstar like LeBron James play a hilarious, exciting basketball game with the Looney Tunes gang, and to bask in the shameless absurdity of it all. It helps if whoever is in charge can harness as much of the Tunes crew's anarchic charm as possible — this film, blessedly, does that in part.
This Space Jam does, however, try a little harder than the first movie to move the drama past the centerpiece game — James has little sparks of tension with his fictionalized son that drive the plot, as the latter, a video-game whiz, doesn’t want to play basketball like his old man. How do we get to Tune World this time? Don Cheadle’s zany algorithmic villain traps the two in Warner Bros.’ “server-verse” after a pitch meeting in which LeBron scoffs at Cheadle’s computerized idea to insert King James’ likeness into various WB properties. It’s a fun in-joke as to how truly looney all of this is at the center; just like its predecessor, this film is a bit more self-aware than it's really given credit for. There’s an inherent stupidity to the Space Jam plot, of course, but that’s almost part of the fun. It’s such a strange brew that goes down easy if you’ve got the taste for it.
Space Jam: A New Legacy finds a way to cater to both the ’90s babies who just want one more taste of that junky nostalgic nectar and the fresh young’uns who want a more souped-up version of that film starring an athlete they recognize. High cinema this ain’t, but not every family film has to be as refined as something like Paddington 2. In moderation, flashy, silly studio fare like Space Jam: A New Legacy can hit the spot in a very satisfying way. Love it or hate it, there just aren't a lot of movies like it. If you’re in the “love it” category for the first film, this one will, by and large, scratch the itch.