Space Jam: A New Legacy

Space Jam: A New Legacy ★★★★★

Tragic news for anyone who’s sick of cartoon movies: “Space Jam: A New Legacy” completely reinvigorates the genre, reaffirms why it’s resonating with a diverse modern audience that’s desperate to fight the power, and reiterates to us how these hyper-popular squash-n-stretch myths are able to reinvent themselves on the fly whenever things get stale. Just when it seemed like “Back in Action” might be the culmination of a cultural phenomenon, that Chuck Jones’ death could symbolize the end of an era, and that “Space Jam” was always going to be the silliest possible subtitle for a Looney Tunes adaptation, along comes a delirious postmodern spectacle to remind us that these movies will exist for as long as people need to see themselves reflected in them. Sometimes, that can feel like a threat. Watching “A New Legacy,” it’s more like a promise.

An eye-popping and irreverent animated experience from the marvelous comic minds who brought you “Girls Trip,” “Night School,” and roughly 100 percent of that misbegotten Barbershop movie, “A New Legacy” is somehow both the nerdiest and most inviting cartoon film in a long time; every single frame oozes with fan service, and yet the entire project seems optimized for people who were rooting for Michael Jordan to dunk the MonStars into oblivion and put us all out of our misery.

This is an origin story for viewers who didn’t think they could stomach another origin story; it’s an origin story about how empowering origin stories can be. However much fun it might be to watch Giannis Antetokounmpo save the Bucks for the umpteenth time, the most basic thrill of these movies is the idea that anyone can become Looney (an ethos that Bugs Bunny has always personified) and “A New Legacy” stretches that idea to hilarious new dimensions.

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