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‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ Is Getting Terrible Reviews, but so Did the Original

A range of issues — from character updates to the overall execution and ruleless basketball game — left even fans of the original 'Space Jam' unimpressed. Though the terrible reviews might be surprising to some, they shouldn't be shocked — the first film faced the same unwelcoming reviews from critics in 1996.

From remakes of childhood favorites to long-awaited movie sequels, millennials have relished the opportunity to take a trip down memory lane and share part of their childhood with their kids. After over 20 years in the making, the recent release of Space Jam: A New Legacy excited basketball fans and ’90s kids alike. 

However, it didn’t earn rave reviews. From character updates to the overall execution and ruleless basketball game, myriad issues left even fans of the original Space Jam unimpressed. Though the terrible reviews might surprise some, they shouldn’t be shocked — the first film faced the same unwelcoming reviews in 1996. 

Critics panned ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’

LeBron James attends the premiere of Warner Bros' 'Space Jam: A New Legacy' at Regal LA Live in July 2021
‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ star LeBron James | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Space Jam: A New Legacy, featuring NBA superstar LeBron James, was met with bad reviews despite the anticipation of its release. The sequel re-creates the story of a well-known basketball player teaming up with Looney Tune characters to overtake an evil threat.

Because a computer programmer kidnaps James’ son in the film, his family is included in the action (actors, not James’ real relatives). The programmer, AI G. Rhythm (Don Cheadle), zaps James and his son into the Serververse and challenges James to a basketball game against the Goon Squad.

The film runs for almost a half-hour before James is introduced to the world of Looney Tunes and seeks out all of our favorite WB characters to help take on the Goon Squad in the game.

Many critics agree the two-hour movie goes overboard with Warner Bros. promotion and the overly promoted “be yourself” messaging.

One of the top critics on Rotten Tomatoes sums it up by saying, “It feels less like a movie than a sales pitch, where Warner Bros. really wants to remind you that it owns everything from Casablanca to Game of Thrones.”

Reviews from audiences are similar, with many finding the movie a little dark for children and lacking enough of slapstick comedy for which the Looney Tunes are famous.

However, the dearth of stellar reviews isn’t anything new to the Space Jam films. 

The original movie also got terrible reviews

After Michael Jordan co-starred with Bugs Bunny in Nike commercials in the 1990s, the idea for Space Jam was born.

Released on November 15, 1996, the movie followed Jordan on an adventure where he ends up in the Looney Tunes world. The cartoon characters needed his help to defeat the intergalactic villains, the Monstars, who were stealing the talent of NBA players. The toons persuade Jordan to play one more basketball game to help them defeat the Monstars and save the future of the NBA. 

The movie was met with less than stellar reviews despite its popular soundtrack featuring the film’s iconic song, “I Believe I Can Fly.”

Space Jam was all the rage for many ’90s kids, making their favorite movie list. However, many millennials who have rewatched the movie as adults don’t like it anymore. 

Was ‘Space Jam’ ever good?


‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’: 5 Movies to Watch Next

With the original and Space Jam 2 facing bad reviews when released, many wonder if the movie was ever good in the first place. Many agree that Space Jam, as a movie geared toward kids, is good for that purpose but can be painful for adults to suffer through.

The New York Post calls the sequel “forgettable nostalgia bait,” and many who watch the film agree the sequel was not worth the extended wait.

But for millennials wanting to introduce their kids to some of their childhood favorites, Space Jam: A New Legacy will keep them entertained for a couple of hours.