Michael “Air” Jordan may have gotten his nickname because of his leaping ability on the basketball court, but he’s also still up there in the air casting a shadow over LeBron James...metaphorically speaking, of course.
Due to his ongoing chase toward championship rings (despite surpassing other records by his predecessor), he can’t quite escape this looming shadow. But Bron’s choice to film Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021) makes that shadow a much larger presence in his life. Naturally, the sequel will lend itself to comparisons from fans and apparently, even the original Space Jam (1996) director Joe Pytka has something to say.
He has a lot of things to say about the sequel directed by Malcolm D. Lee, actually…
“The truth is that LeBron ain’t Michael,” the director recently told TMZ, still giving some props to Bron for his athleticism and acting.
Oh, but he went innnn on the movie. More from TMZ:
Pytka’s just getting started...he feels the 1996 Space Jam featured a far superior supporting cast with Charles Barkley, Muggsy Bogues, Shawn Bradley and Bill Murray. In New Legacy...he says he can’t even remember one thing Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard or the others did.
The director also thinks the reboot’s soundtrack is “insignificant” while the OG’s is classic, but his biggest beef is what happened to Bugs Bunny. No spoilers here, but Joe sees Bugs’ role in New Legacy as “heartbreaking.”
Pytka says this new BB has no connection to previous depictions — something they paid close attention to with the OG Space Jam. In short, he says the new version “looked like one of those fluffy dolls you buy at an airport gift shop to bring your kid when your business trip has taken too long.”
But...did he lie???? I have to especially co-sign his feelings about the original soundtrack, which was a whole pop culture moment. This one? Eh.
As The Root staff writer Joe Jurado points out in his spot-on review of the sequel:
My primary beef with Space Jam: A New Legacy is that it feels less like a movie, and more like a feature length commercial for HBO Max by way of those shitty Movie Movie’s from back in the early aughts. (Date Movie, Epic Movie, Superhero Movie, all that trash) Instead of clever or witty gags, we just get pop culture reference after pop culture reference. It feels like a guy coming up to you and going “Hey remember, that one scene in Training Day?,” and then expecting you to laugh at the fact that Training Day exists.
Over the weekend, I joined a few folks for a little watch party kickback over the weekend and we actually had a drinking game where every time we saw a WarnerMedia product placement in the movie, we took a swig of our vodka punch (which also had a shot or two of moonshine). I survived and came to work right here at The Root the next day, which is scientific proof that Black Girl Magic exists.
Look. I knew why I was there—I didn’t expect a cinematic achievement, especially since the original film was critically panned, as well…no surprise there. Honestly, I was more curious and concerned about the general interest of the kid audience. In Space Jam’s case, the popularity not only leaned on the sports superstardom of MJ, but Looney Tunes was hella popular, too.
Yes, this sequel has its sports superstar in Bron. My question is, do these little niggas today even care about Looney Tunes (even with the various reboots)? Also, it’s not a new concept that family films typically throw in jokes that only adults can enjoy (Pixar is amazing at this)—and part of the fun is growing up many years later and re-watching your old childhood faves to catch those grownup jokes. But save for a gag or two (funny enough, involving Michael Jordan, so to speak), New Legacy’s references were so hamfisted I wasn’t sure if I could appreciate them as an adult.
Also the MJ big moment climax was also far superior to Bron’s big moment climax, with the latter building up into way too many lengthy and awkwardly edited sequences, so the final impact eventually fell flat.
Anyway, the sequel made a shit ton of money opening weekend…as expected, because it’s a family film that offered both theater and at-home experiences.
“Hi haters!” Bron tweeted with a toothy grin emoji when the opening weekend numbers swarmed in.
As Pytka mentioned, Space Jam became a cult classic—and to be fair, only time will tell if we can say the same thing about its sequel.