By one critical measure, anyway, LeBron James is coming up short again.
The Los Angeles Lakers star, who seems to spend more time infuriating conservative Americans with disgracefully disdainful attacks on law enforcement officers than he does winning basketball games, is the star attraction of “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” a live-action/animated film that opened this weekend.
The movie is getting hammered by reviews.
Entertainment Weekly’s take was damning. Though reviewer Mary Sollosi noted that it “kind of works” as a testament to James’ pop-culture influence, as a piece of actual cinema, it’s a failure.
“Here’s the thing about basketball: It is extremely watchable,” Sollosi, an assistant features editor wrote. “Here’s the thing about Space Jam: A New Legacy: It’s not. You will be amazed by how little the basketball game resembles an actual sport, and how hard it is to sit through.”
An “abomination,” the New York Post put it.
— New York Post (@nypost) July 16, 2021
As the sequel to 1996 “Space Jam,” which starred Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan, the new movie was supposed to be one more way for LeBron to chase Jordan’s legacy.
It didn’t work out so well.
“The star of a new Space Jam has big Air Jordans to fill, but only when it comes to star power; as an actor, His Airness was as flat and rigid as a backboard,” AV Club reviewer A.A. Dowd wrote.
Even in the woke precincts of the nation’s capital, The Washingon Post panned it.
“There’s no real reason for this sequel/tribute to the original 1996 film to exist, but now that it does, there’s no reason to wish that it didn’t. While ‘You could do worse’ probably wouldn’t pass muster with the movie’s marketing people as a tagline, it’s probably the most accurate assessment of the film,” reviewer Kristen Page-Kirby wrote.
And at the Los Angeles Times, the newspaper of James’ adopted hometown, the headline said it all:
“Review: ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ strands LeBron James in a swirling CGI garbage tornado.”
None of that is to say “A New Legacy” isn’t making money — it is, and that’s clearly the primary aim of any Hollywood endeavor.
According to Deadline, the movie’s opening weekend has shown a box office of almost $32 million so far, the best for Warner Bros. since the coronavirus pandemic began.
But with reviews like these, it’s questionable how far word of mouth will carry that box office magic.
And there’s a dynamic here that is beyond just whether a live-action/animated movie is a hit.
LeBron has made no secret of his pursuit of Jordan in his basketball career — though his likelihood of tying or surpassing Jordan’s six NBA championships is not looking bright. At age 36, he’s the owner of four championship rings.
That’s not old in most fields of human endeavor, but James was drafted in 2003. It won’t be long before most rookies entering the league will have been born after that.
James and the Lakers only cut his time remaining to catch Jordan that time further when they came up short against the Phoenix Suns in June to get booted out of the NBA playoffs in the first round.
With that came not only a blotch on James’ record, but a serious blow to James ever being known as the Greatest of All Time on the court. (In the court of patriotic public opinion, of course, he lost that a long time ago.)
In short, time is not on Lebron’s side. Nor are most sane Americans, who have watched James kowtow to China, along with the rest of the NBA, insult police officers, coddle the Black Lives Matter thugs who spent the pandemic year of 2020 turning American cities into open flames.
Now, thanks to what by most accounts is a bomb of a movie, movie reviewers aren’t either. And no matter what the box office takes in an era of entertainment-starved audiences, that matters.
For all its self-evident silliness, the first “Space Jam” starring Jordan has achieved a legendary sort of status in the quarter-0century since its release.
It’s a rock-solid bet that no one — not even LeBron — will be talking about “Space Jam: A New Legacy” 25 years from now.
And LeBron has come up short again.
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