In just two months, Space Jam: A New Legacy is finally coming to theaters and HBO Max, a full quarter of a century after the beloved original. As the trailers have made abundantly clear, the sequel is making the most of its reported $150 million budget to deliver plenty of eye-popping visuals, rich CGI spectacle and a litany of familiar faces from the Warner Bros. back catalogue.
As much as audiences of a certain generation have an affinity for Space Jam, it can’t be denied that Michael Jordan’s performance is a little stilted and wooden at times, which is of course to be expected when he’s not an actor, but luckily his natural charisma overcame any shortcomings in terms of his dramatic capabilities, or lack thereof.
A New Legacy‘s leading man LeBron James has already proven himself to be a surprisingly strong comic talent thanks to his scene-stealing supporting role in Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck, but with the pun fully intended, headlining a massively expensive summer blockbuster is an entirely different ball game.
Luckily, director Malcolm D. Lee was full of praise for James’ work ethic and professionalism in a recent interview, highlighting the difficulties in juggling the shooting schedule with his regular day job as one of the NBA’s top players.
“The thing with LeBron is he’s very professional. I don’t think he realized the magnitude of what being number one on the call sheet meant. He found out. But that didn’t deter him. He had had an injury his first season with the Lakers and was back on the train getting back to greatness.
So he made sure that he was up at like two or three in the morning every day before call getting his basketball workout in and doing what he needed to do to prepare himself to get ready for the season. And he was always ready to be on set and he never really left set. He would stay there all day and be ready for us whenever we needed him. He was a great professional, not just on camera, because he loves to be directed and loves to perform but also to be a motivating force for our extras that were there. He’s just a good example of a leader.”
Space Jam: A New Legacy has become embroiled in a string of minor and bizarre controversies over the last few months, but as a broad family film that also comes bathed in the warm glow of nostalgia, it should realistically be posting solid numbers at the box office, provided the industry continues its recent drive towards something resembling normality after well over a year in the doldrums.