There is a certain vicious nature to entertainment these days. As if cinema is intent on causing some physical harm not only to a spectators spirituality and ideology but also to their consumptive habits. Not in the sense that movies leap from the screen and take you to the parking lot for a thrashing (that would be much too honorable and tangible), but solely in how they attempt to calcify and craft your body as a consuming citizen, inscribing upon you new brands to crave and adore. We’ve seen with the Marvel franchise that production companies are making feature length commercials and films second, Avengers: Endgame is perhaps the most expensive, overblown advertisement ever made, a plug for every single character in their universe from both past and future. So where does this leave Space Jam: A New Legacy? If Avengers: Endgame was the exuberant breath of a “film industry” content with leaving the first half of that label behind, Space Jam: A New Legacy is it’s dystopic older sibling broadcasted from some cold hell where conglomerates and companies rule our day to day existence (if you haven’t noticed that “cold hell” is our present neoliberal, corporate fascist regime).
The films premise is asinine, Lebron James is well… Lebron James! A real good ball player. There is a rift between he and his son because his son really likes video games and Lebron wants him to be good at basketball but he isn’t. Riveting stuff eh? Lebron has a meeting with Warner Bros for a movie deal because they’ve designed an algorithm named Al-G Rhythm (Don Cheadle in a role that should damn him to the outskirts of the cinematic periphery) whose convinced that Lebron is the key to their success, for whatever reason, his son tags along and becomes infatuated with this new AI since he is a tech nerd. When Lebron rejects the idea Al-G Rhythm goes haywire and sucks Lebron and his son into the game where Lebron then needs to gather the Looney Tunes to defeat Al-G in a game of virtual basketball in order to save the Looney Tunes from destruction. In order to assemble the Looney Tunes he must traverse this digital landscape and reunite them from being lost in other Warner Brothers properties. This is arguably the most cynical film I’ve ever seen, a movie where Lebron falls through the ground and in his place a Nike symbol appears. When he’s drinking from a water bottle later in the film it’s a relief to see no Gatorade or Powerade logo, the film makes you hostile and alert towards the barrage of references and advertisements to both the Warner Bros. catalogue, other famous people and brands as a whole.
If the original Space Jam operated on some campy pre-internet logic then A New Legacy has reached the opposite end of the spectrum and is working on post-internet insanity. This is a film simultaneously made to catapult older viewers through nostalgia and also to entice younger audiences to buy into Warner Bros. as a brand, these older viewers grew up thinking that Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were stand up dudes while the younger generation sits around playing Fortnite, posting black squares and making videos for pedophiles on TikTok. So this is a godless film for a helpless world, there is not a square inch of the human soul to be located in Space Jam, and if you can disassociate and enjoy any aspect of this abomination you may want to either rethink your political and financial beliefs or you are so cynical you are past the point of saving and are better off in a world that crushes originality through a meat grinder, churning out carbon copies such as yourself.
Films shouldn’t make you feel crazy but Space Jam: A New Legacy makes you feel like you’re drowning, like screaming in water, every sound of anguish and despair muffled by the onslaught of corporate violence. Space Jam: A New Legacy is not a movie, however, so perhaps in this new realm of visual pleasure that has been created by Marvel and now coopted by Warner Bros, these “films” have the ability to make viewers absolutely looney. Here’s hoping they’re making room at the asylum.