NBA star a double threat in live-action/animated movie
Years in the making and a lot longer in conception, the much-awaited sequel to “Space Jam” finally arrives this week in the form of a live-action/animated feature-length film on HBO Max.
In “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” premiering on the streaming service and in theaters on Friday, July 16, LeBron James is executive producer and star in this sports comedy in which he plays a fictionalized version of himself, who with his son Dom (Cedric Joe), is trapped in a digital space by a rogue A.I. To get them home, he must lead Bugs Bunny and his gang of Looney Tunes in a basketball game against the A.I. team of digitized NBA and WNBA stars.
Don Cheadle, Khris Davis and Sonequa Martin-Green have live-action roles while Zendaya and Jeff Bergman head the voice cast.
It’s the latest in a long list of films featuring basketball players, joining the following productions.
James proved himself to have some respectable comedic chops playing a fastidious version of himself in director Judd Apatow’s hilarious tale of a promiscuous reporter (Amy Schumer) who finds herself falling for the sports doctor (Bill Hader) she’s profiling. And in limited action, props go to Amar’e Stoudemire and longtime NBA play-by-play man Marv Albert for memorable appearances.
“My Giant” (1998):
At 7 feet 7 inches, Romanian big man Gheorghe Muresan was a shot-blocking terror for five seasons during the 1990s with the Washington Bullets and New Jersey Nets. Next to 5-feet-7-inch Billy Crystal as a down-on-his-luck movie agent who sees in the gentle giant his ticket back to Hollywood relevance, he’s the towering calm in a storm of subplots and one-liners. And a believable one at that.
“Space Jam” (1996):
OK, so Michael Jordan was only playing himself in this half live action/half animated Looney Tunes tale, but he did prove that he had a sense of humor about himself. After being kidnapped by the Looneys to play on their basketball team, he protests that he’s now a baseball player. “Right,” Bugs Bunny replies. “And I’m a Shakespearean actor.”
“Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes!” Yes, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played himself playing a pilot on a stricken airliner in this comedy classic, but the NBA legend’s testy response to a persistent young fan who cast aspersions on his work ethic was hilarious and provided one of filmdom’s most memorable moments by an athlete actor. It also gave an indication that the Basketball Hall of Famer had a sense of humor when it came to his critics.