Space Jam was an all-time favorite flick for me and my brother growing up in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Over and over again, we would watch NBA legend Michael Jordan shoot hoops alongside the Looney Tunes in a cosmic basketball game against the Monstars, the ginormous forms of the Nerdlucks, who steal and absorb talents from Jordan’s NBA peers and transform into the likeness of the respective players–Pound, the orange alien leader, tranforms into Charles Barkley; Nawt (red) into Muggsy Bogues; Bang (green) into Patrick Ewing; Blanko (blue) into Shawn Bradley; and Bupkus (purple) into Larry Johnson–to take the Looney Tunes and enslave them in their failing amusement park by order of their greedy boss, Mr. Swackhammer (voiced by the incomparable Danny DeVito). At one point, my brother and I, as well as some of our friends and relatives, may have secretly wished for a sequel simply because of how good Space Jam was, especially since it brilliantly executed the live-action/animation hybrid filming style just like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? before it. Now, nearly 20 years later and entering the second round of this year’s NBA Playoffs, that wish is about to come true. But not in a way we imagined it at first.
After nearly a year of Internet speculation regarding Space Jam 2, The Hollywood Reporter journalist Rebecca Ford released a statement that Justin Lin, director of four Fast & Furious films since 2006’s Tokyo Drift and upcoming Star Trek Beyond, and co-writers Andrew Dodge and Alfredo Botello are working on a script for the long-awaited sequel to the film starring Warner Bros.’s celebrated cartoon gang, the Looney Tunes. Space Jam 2 will also star not Michael Jordan, but his youngest successor LeBron James.
As a cinemaniac, I’m happy to hear that production of Space Jam 2 is actually underway. However, as an animaniac, I’m very skeptical about how the animation of the Looney Tunes will turn out in the film given the current trends seen on Cartoon Network. Although reruns of the original Looney Tunes cartoons are still being aired at from 10 to 11am on the weekdays, the animation standards for the recent shows have been driven to the ground. The voice-acting’s great, sure. But the problem lies in character design. Yes, I understand the character designs in the original Looney Tunes have been remodified through the decades ’til the death of the original and sole voice actor Mel Blanc, but the designs of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety Bird et al were just fine in Space Jam and Looney Tunes: Back in Action, as well as some animated series that aired some time after, like Duck Dodgers. I know that in Space Jam, the cartoon characters were CGI-animated to a minimal extent because CGI-animation in the 90s was not as advanced as it is in today’s animated films, but I’m afraid that the designs of the characters, not to mention their personalities, are gonna be as distasteful and unappealing as they are in The Looney Tunes Show and Wabbit.
For the athlete in question. I was expecting a plot involving Bugs and the gang summoning Michael Jordan back to their world to play against another team that’s twice as intimidating as the Monstars with a different motive. But since Jordan has retired from basketball for good, save for owning the Charlotte Hornets, Warner Bros. has LeBron James in his place. I believe they made the right choice to pick James to help out the Looney Tunes this time around. He gave a stellar performance in Trainwreck, so I’ll give him a chance with Space Jam 2. I still have his Miami Heat jersey (#6) hanging in my closet, and I will happily wear it the day the movie is released, whenever that will be.
The only question I have now is, how come LeBron James didn’t tweet anything about Space Jam 2?