Emma Jun
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Imagine Being Critical of ‘Space Jam: A ...

Imagine Being Critical of ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’

Jul 27, 2021

The only conversation I’ve seen on this movie falls into two groups. Group one screams maniacally something like this: “OMG emotional whiplash! So crazy all these characters together! OMG”. While the other group is whining like this: “That would never work. That’s so unrealistic. Worst movie ever!” So what’s up doc?

Where the former shows a complete lack of critical thinking the latter is applying it too harshly. Learning critical thinking also involves learning how to apply it. In other words, should I hold a cartoon rabbit in a cyber space basketball game organised by a moody algorithm with post singularity powers to the same academic standard as a painstakingly created heavily researched near future, philosophical probing of the nature of reality? Spoiler alert! No, you shouldn’t.

Let’s look at the first group’s comment. The scene in question is the recruitment section of the film where we have Bugs and whoever the sports guy is leading this movie visiting different franchises to make their team. In the space of a few minutes we get Casablanca, The Matrix, Austin Powers, Rick and Morty, Justice League and others spoofed by the Looney Tunes gang with appropriate cameos.

The criticism? It’s looney. Essentially. My criticism of their criticism? You do realise you are watching a Looney Tunes movie, right? The clue is in the name. And to be honest it’s not that looney. The movie universe has been clearly set up by this point and the cinematic language at use isn’t exactly Memento level here. The jokes are fun, but still pretty straight forward. Are people’s brains so fragile they can’t handle characters from different franchises in one place? Or is something even sadder at play? The cartoons might be older than a dead grandad, but I grew up with these cartoons. Looney Tunes is in my DNA. You might as well spell Looney Tunes as GTCAT TGACA. It saddens me that people didn’t enjoy that same childhood, didn’t get the same education in jokes and humour, jokes that were crazy but made logical sense (modern cartoons missing off that last part), didn’t learn that vital part of cinema language. Is it really that shocking? No, you just need to get educated, and understand quality entertainment. I’m beginning to sound elitist, but it’s true that you need a certain experience to be able to measure quality and function.

And heaven help you later on, Mr. Lazy Audience Man, because in the final scene you have The Night King enjoying the basketball game with a Matrix agent, Pennywise and King Kong. Sure, it’s not the original actors (except for Kong!) which lends a whole comic con feel to it and increases the craziness, but this is also where group two might get so whiney they are in danger of decorating nearby walls with their recently exploded insides.

Before they do explode let’s remind them that this whole mish mash of cameos has been set up in the movie world. It’s silly logic but it’s a kids film. However, there are still many things for them to explode over. The kid has an app on his phone that creates a fully developed video game character from just scanning a live model for a few seconds, people are sucked into the HBO Max servers through their phones, an algorithm can control every electronic device on Earth, have independent thought and create and plan with real emotions much like how we imagine AI might. It’s kid logic. Add an extra politician to your disbelief balloon for these movies. It won’t kill you, nay sayers. Kids don’t need realism. Just the loosest logic to guide their imaginations.

So let’s just check and make sure. This movie is for kids right? The style says kids film, where as the content suggests adult. Kids don’t know about Game of Thrones (hopefully!!), Pennywise and probably not The Matrix (sadly). However, it doesn’t really matter kids will laugh at the cartoon jokes and just think the cameos are weird characters. Specifics don’t matter. Remember, they’re high on imagination. So it’s just Warner’s way of appealing to both audiences: the kids and the adults who are nostalgic for the first Space Jam. While throwing in so many logical fallacies and ridiculous concepts should make it clear (should! SHOULD!) to grown adults that it’s not hard SF. So I think it’s safe to say it’s a kids movie. I didn’t even mention the clincher, that being the video game elements are obviously written by someone who has never even seen a video game.

Does it do it’s job though? Yes. I enjoyed this movie. I am not a kid, but I may as well be.I laughed a lot. In fact, I’d say it’s easily better than the first. The jokes and story seem a lot more focussed despite the ridiculous concept. The acting is a lot less cheesy. I didn’t cringe for two hours like I did the first one. Plus there’s a pretty good lesson here about accepting people for who they are. Every plot point is neon signposted for the movie literate and detailed enough that the kids will get it and a bad guy good enough at turning on a dime that they won’t feel like they want all the cool stuff he offers. Everyone wants to be on Bugs’ team for sure. That’s up, doc.

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