Dear readers of io9, I’m worried about Space Jam: A New Legacy. You see, I’m a child of the 1990s. Like so many of us, I grew up idolizing Michael Jordan and was the perfect age to see the 1996 original Space Jam when it was released. So the news of the long-gestating sequel, featuring this generation’s closest Jordan equivalent LeBron James, is something I’ve been looking forward to. But watching Porky Pig rap in this new clip is just, well, worrisome.
Before this though, I was still holding out hope. I’ve always cheered for James, thanks in large part to his incredible skills—but also other films he’s been a part of, like the underrated documentary More Than a Game, which follows his high school career. And even with the release of A New Legacy’s first trailer, which got so universally dunked on by the internet the second trailer all but ignored the first, I was still OK with it. While 99% of the world despises films stuffed with pointless pop culture references, I actually enjoy them. (Yes, I’m the one person here who likes Ready Player One). But these clips? Yikes. First The Matrix and now a pseudo 8 Mile rap battle? I just don’t know.
Once you remove your animated jaw from the floor, there are several things discuss here. First, the animation does look fantastic. The CGI work making the Looney Tunes appear “realistic” looks great. Beyond that though, isn’t the biggest part of Porky Pig’s appeal his endearing speech impediment? So how can he just drop that and become a character from the rap-battle movie Bodied (also underrated)? Maybe the film has an explanation outside of this. I’m also aware this is a film for little kids and it’s not meant to be dissected in, basically, any real way. But there’s obviously a line between films 12-year-olds go wild for which also have redeeming qualities for adults. And I truly, deeply fear the problem with Space Jam: A New Legacy is those hypothetical “redeeming qualities for adults” will just be that we recognize characters from other Warner Bros. properties throughout.
I hope beyond hope that I’m wrong but that hope is dwindling. Space Jam: A New Legacy comes to theaters and HBO Max on July 16.
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