Linda Cook review: New ‘Space Jam’ wants nothing but to net cash

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If I wanted to shop at a Warner Bros. store, I could do it online. And in a lot less than two hours.

“Space Jam 2: A New Legacy” is one of the most blatant sales-pitch cinematic money grabs I’ve seen in a long time.

It’s not hard to sell LeBron James, whose NBA superstar presence will earn the film millions of viewers.

Unsurprisingly, it’s a lot like the original movie, so dear to the hearts of three of my basketball/Looney-Tunes-loving colleagues they held a brief – and unsuccessful – intervention on behalf of the original (again, for the record, I didn’t hate the first movie but I thought it could have been a lot better.)

This one starts in 1998 in Akron, Ohio, where a coach scolds young LeBron because he had his mind on a Game Boy.

Now the grownup LeBron lives in Los Angeles with his wife and kids, who include Dom (Cedric Joe,) whose heart is not so much in basketball but in video games.

He has created his own video game called “Dom Ball.”

Warner Bros. execs invite LeBron to partner in a business opportunity, but he turns them down.

The villainous Al G. Rhythm (Don Cheadle) is an artificial intelligence in the Warner Bros. Serververse, and he kidnaps LeBron and his son into this digital environment.

LeBron must play a basketball game to save his family, so he and Bugs Bunny recruit other Looney Tunes characters for the big competition.

Austin Powers, “Casablanca” and “Gremlins” are among the cameos in this film that appears to want to get Warner Bros. product in front of viewers.

I couldn’t believe it took six people to write this. A couple of the jokes are funny, especially one involving Michael Jordan. But lots of them are repeats of classic Looney Tunes moments.

None of this makes much sense. But fans will enjoy seeing James, and kids will like seeing the colorful characters. I enjoyed spotting other Warner Bros. characters in a crowd scene. Parents who embraced the first movie when they were younger will appreciate a bit of nostalgia with their own kids.

You won’t be a bit surprised to learn there’s a massive merchandising connection with gear, toys and games.

You’d be much better off joining your family for some classic Looney Tunes than seeing this. Will there be a sequel? I’m hoping with this one … that’s all, folks.

1 ½ stars

Rated: PG for coarse language and cartoon violence.

Running time: One hour and 55 minutes.

In theaters and streaming on HBO Max.

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