"Space Jam: The New Legacy" Review Roundup: Warner Bros.Tooniverse fails to appeal

Space Jam: A New Legacy lands in theaters and on HBO Max tomorrow. Warner Bros. itself has described the film as “manic”; critics concur. Whether they think that's a good thing is another matter.

In its concept, the sequel resembles the 1996 original. There's basketball, Looney Tunes, and a comedic sensibility, but the details are different: bye bye Michael Jordan, hello LeBron James and evil AI humanoids. James - who plays a version of himself - and his onscreen son Dom (Cedric Joe) are sucked into a digital world inhabited by a rogue digital humanoid (Don Cheadle). Needless to say, things culminate in a basketball game.

Malcolm D. Lee (Girls Trip, Night School) directs, having replaced Terence Nance, who left in 2019 over creative differences with the producers. The screenplay is by Juel Taylor, Tony Rettenmaier, Keenan Coogler, and Terence Nance.

The producers are Ryan Coogler, LeBron James, Maverick Carter, and Duncan Henderson, and the executive producers are Sev Ohanian, Zinzi Coogler, Allison Abbate, Jesse Ehrman, Jamal Henderson, Spencer Beighley, Justin Lin, Terence Nance, and Ivan Reitman. The 2d animation producer is Troy Nethercott.

Reviews of A New Legacy are averaging out at mixed to poor, the film currently registering a 42% critics' score on Rotten Tomatoes. Reviewers' top gripe: the frantic mashup of studio characters and properties.

Charles Bramesco gives A New Legacy one star out of five in The Guardian, slamming its chaotic remix of studio properties:

Nell Minow rates the film more highly than most critics, awarding it three stars out of four on RogerEbert.com:

Comparing A New Legacy favorably with the original, Variety's Amy Nicholson sees both upsides and downsides to the sequel's orgy of IP:

Though mostly critical of the film, Vulture's Bilge Ebiri applauds its riffs on classic cartoon comedy:

Frank Scheck admires the animation - but not the way it is used - in his review for The Hollywood Reporter: