By the end of the “Space Jam” sequel, most of the Warner Brothers empire has been pushed into duty.
Yes, Bugs Bunny and his Looney Tunes friends (shown here) are the stars, but you’ll also glimpse Yogi Bear and his Hanna-Barbera pals. There are brief glimpses of Wonder Woman and Superman and King Kong, of classics both old (“Casablanca”) and new (“Game of Thrones”).
All of this reminds us that sometimes more is less, that sometimes 10 plus 10 plus 10 equals 2 or 3.
“Space Jam: A New Legacy” – now on HBO Max and in theaters – does have its moments. I laughed out loud at one bit, a reference to Michael Jordan, who starred in the original, 1996 “Space Jam.” But then it pours on more moments … and more … and more.
At the core is the same story as the original: To save others, the world’s best player – Jordan then, LeBron James now – must win a game against cartoon characters.
James plays himself adequately and even allows a few snipes along the way. He’s shown as a bad dad; the villain (Don Cheadle) even talks about him as a serial abandonment guy – walking away from teams in Cleveland, Miami and Cleveland again.
At that point, it’s a so-so drama; then all those guest stars come pouring in.
Warner Brothers certainly has a lot of them. It created Bugs and friends, plus “Casablanca” and (via HBO) “Game of Thrones.” It bought DC Comics, with Superman and pals. And it bought Ted Turner’s collection, which had previously bought Hanna-Barbera and the libraries of MGM and RKO.
They all flash by us in what should be a giddy treat for movie buffs … but isn’t.
The greatness of those Looney Tunes came in the timing. Sure, we laughed when the anvil landed on the coyote’s head, but that all came after his evil scheme was carefully set up and then foiled.
In this film, there’s none of the timing, none of the set-up – just a lot of anvils (metaphoically speaking) descending on the heads of characters and filmgoers.