This weekend, Warner Bros. released the latest Warner Animation Group feature film: "Space Jam: A New Legacy!" It's been concurrently released to movie theaters reopening across the country and to Warner's streaming service HBO Max. At first I was a little unsure, because I didn't enjoy the original 1996 "Space Jam" too much, and the reviews were not so good. Though I remembered the original "Space Jam" got hostile reviews as well from the critics, and I was also desparate to see anything with the Looney Tunes in their classic forms (like "Looney Tunes Cartoons," as I've been enjoying so far.)
And you know what? I watched it on HBO Max last night (while my brother saw it with a friend at the theater) and I actually enjoyed it a lot! Sure, it's not the greatest thing the Looney Tunes have done in recent years, and it was clearly made to cash in on 1990s notalgia, but I still found it to be pretty fun!
Now, in this sequel, we focus on basketball superstar LeBron James, who is of course not really connecting with his son Dom, who's really into designing games and not about playing basketball in real life as much, including creating a basketball game that LeBron ends up bugging out. Then the James family is invited to Warner Bros. Studios, where they see a presentation for their biggest project, the Warner 3000 Entertainment Serververse. Think of it as combining HBO Max's library with virtual reality gaming or whatever. The Serververse is ruled by an evil computer algorithm with the punny name Al-G Rhythm, played by Don Cheadle. When LeBron James turns down Al-G's offer to take over ruling the Serververse, he takes advantage of Dom wandering off to check out the studio's server room and virtually kidnaps Dom, hoping to steal his basketball game coding.
Of course, since I am a computer technician, a lot of this greatly interested me.
Get a load of the statuette behind Malik (LeBron James's manager and friend); it's Dot Warner!
And so, Al-G Rhythm challenges LeBron James to a game of basketball via Dom's video game. If LeBron's team wins, he and Dom are freed. If not, they stay. Al-G does not think fondly of the Looney Tunes, so he sends LeBron to the "rejects" - Tune World! Among arriving there, LeBron becomes an animated WB character and meets Bugs Bunny, the only Looney Tune left in Tune World after Al-G kidnapped the rest of the gang for the Serververse, as he thinks the Looney Tunes is a dying franchise. This is based off how after their last theatrical feature outing, "Looney Tunes: Back in Action" from 2003, bombed miserably at the box office, Warner Bros. pretty much considered the Tunes as no longer being relevant and popular (along with hand-drawn theatrical animation as a whole), and canceled the theatrical-intended shorts in production at that time (which was probably for the better, as they were not that good to begin with) and had the shorts taken off of Cartoon Network, meaning that they were no longer being rerun on mainstream television! (Oh sure, they still aired on Boomerang for a couple of years after that, but most people didn't get that channel.) Most merchandising was discontinued except for at the Six Flags parks. The Looney Tunes were in danger of becoming as obscure as the Terrytoons or the Walter Lantz characters.
So, after LeBron and Bugs exchange their stories, they go on a quest to get the Looney Tunes gang back together for the Tune Squad (though LeBron wanted bigger and stronger WB-owned characters for his team), finding them in several other worlds in the Serververse...
In DC World, Daffy Duck is acting as Super Duck in order to get into the Justice League, by intentionally setting up a runaway train that he'll attempt to stop, but ends up breaking the emergency brake while attempting to pull it...
...while Bugs as Batman and LeBron as Robin are stuck riding on top of the out-of-control speeding train! I love how this scene is accompanied by the 1960s Batman theme song! But of course, right before they can crash into an orphanage, the REAL Superman stops the train just in time, not amused at what Daffy did.
The Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote are in the "Mad Max" world, and Wile E. looks REALLY cool here, complete with spray-painting his fangs silver! Of course, this could be a future cosplay idea...
They also find Elmer Fudd and Sylvester in the Austin Powers world, in the roles of Dr. Evil and Mr. Bigglesworth, of course. Yosemite Sam is in the Casablanca world ("Play it again, Sam!"), the Tasmanian Devil was with Rick and Morty, and Lola Bunny is training to be one of Wonder Woman's Amazons! But they manage to get the crew back together. This was the part I enjoyed the most.
In this scene where Al-G Rhythm is still convincing Dom to work with him, Al-G does a pretty fun Steve Jobs impression, and even has an Apple Genius Bar -styled setup here!
Like in the original film, Marvin the Martian plays a small role, but this time he's not the referee (and so he doesn't get brutally beaten up, due to the writing staff obviously not liking him.) Bugs had instead stolen Marvin's spaceship so he and LeBorn could travel the Serververse to get the rest of the gang, and among arriving back to Tune World, Marvin ends up trapped under the ramp! But he's not hurt so badly this time, as later on he had gotten out only to get stuck again.
Soon after some training, it's game time. Al-G Rhythm shows up with Dom and of course expresses his dislike for the Looney Tunes, treating them like washed-up has-beens like they really were in a good bulk of the 2000s. And so, like he's been doing with Dom's basketball video game, he gives the Looney Tunes an "upgrade"...
The beloved Looney Tunes characters all get translated into 3D CGI animation! I will admit, while some of it looked a bit odd, this was some really GOOD CGI, courtesy of Industrial Light and Magic. Naturally, most of the 'toons don't like it, especially Bugs...
But Daffy doesn't mind. "I look expensive!" he exclaims. This pretty much serves as a jab at how CGI has been dominating when it comes to theatrical animated features, and had a part to play in the Looney Tunes's downfall of the 2000s (when movies from Pixar, DreamWorks and Blue Sky were ruling the box offices and such).
Daffy does not play on the Tune Squad this time; he instead serves as their coach, and he's pretty funny here.
Al-G Rhythm also ends up zapping people from their electronic devices into the Serververse to watch the game, and assembles his team of Dom James and the characters from Dom's basketball video game. Al-G's deal is that if LeBron and the Tune Squad win, everyone goes back to where they belong. If Al-G and Dom's team wins, everyone remains trapped in the Serververse, and the Looney Tunes get deleted.
Al-G has also summoned practically everyone in the Serververse to come watch the game, including Scooby-Doo and Mystery inc. as they appeared in last year's "Scoob!"
The Iron Giant has even come to the game! This cameo I sure enjoyed.
Several other Hanna-Barbera characters also attend the game, including the Flintstones, Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo, the Jetsons, Frankenstein Jr. the Wacky Racers (Dick Dastardly and Muttley are also in their "Scoob!" forms) and Jabberjaw. And look: Yakko, Wakko and Dot have also come to watch the game! They get a particularly good view, sitting on Marvin's spaceship!
(The Warner siblings were going to make a cameo in "Looney Tunes: Back in Action," coming out of the WB studio water tower when it comes crashing down thanks to Daffy, but executive meddling and possible conflicting rights with Amblin Entertainment prevented this from happening._
Wile E. Coyote actually looks pretty good animated in CGI by Industrial Light and Magic, I will admit. Like in the original, the Tunes try to play the way LeBron James and the opposing team do, and are getting creamed and are soon REALLY far behind. But after an inspirational talk from Bugs and Lola, the Looney Tunes decide to do what they do best - being Looney, and this gives them a REALLY big boost in the game! Here, Wile E. Coyote is using an ACME cloning machine to clone the basketball to get multiple shots. (Besides, Al-G and his team were cheating anyways.)
I love how Wile E. Coyote even pulled off the classic "Painted Tunnel, Real Train" device on The Brow!
And of course, here's the scene everyone was practically dreading... the rap battle with Porky Pig. Fortunately it's brief, so it's not as cringe-worthy as I thought it would be, and I did enjoy how reluctant they were to try rapping, along with a few of Porky's lyrics. But even with that, "Robot Chicken" did this sort of thing a lot better 15 years ago...
They even got Bob Bergen to voice Porky Pig in this sketch! (He didn't voice Porky in "Space Jam: A New Legacy," but he DID voice Tweety, but in other cases he still voices Porky in newer stuff like "Looney Tunes Cartoons.")
And speaking of Robot Chicken, here's a hilarious "Space Jam" spoof they did in 2014...
Instead of Michael Jordan/LeBron James playing basketball with the Looney Tunes, it's Tiger Woods playing gold with DiC characters in "Golf Jam!" (WARNING: Because this is "Robot Chicken," it's NSFW!)
So far, "Space Jam: A New Legacy" is doing pretty well at the box-office, being one of the highest-grossing family movies released theatrically this year (as we're still recovering from that darn COVID-19 pandemic.) This means things may continue to look bright for the Looney Tunes for quite a while!
I hope they soon start making replica new-style Tune Squad uniforms with the Looney Tunes' names and numbers on them, because then once I get a new Wile E. Coyote costume, I can get the Tune Squad outfit to go with it! After all, I have an original-style Tune Squad jersey...
In fact, the way Wile E. Coyote looked in CGI in "A New Legacy" reminded me a lot of that Wile E. Coyote costume design
that Italian company makes and I hope to eventually order one of, preferrably before Anthro New England 2022, so I can then wear it with the Tune Squad uniform to go with the con's 1990s theme! I'm also going to order a custom Tune Squad jersey for Zak Wolf to wear during the Fursuit Games!
And there's your Looney Tunes-related post for tonight, folks!