I read an interview with Joe Dante the other day where he said the Looney Tunes should have been retired after 1960. I can’t argue with the man. In my lifetime, they’ve only been impressive in Roger Rabbit and that’s because Disney had the final vote on quality control. The original Space Jam is okay but Shawn Bradley is funnier in it than any of the Looney Tunes. You could remove the Looney Tunes entirely and still have a decent movie about NBA players fighting aliens. The animation is just a gimmick. And to paraphrase Chuck Jones, the real Bugs Bunny wouldn’t need Michael Jordan’s help to win a basketball game.
Now we have Space Jam: A New Legacy, which is more of a remake than a direct sequel. If you’re the type of person who can spend hours staring at that poster where Kermit The Frog is dressed like Garth Brooks, this movie will be your Star Wars. Everything you’ve read is correct — A New Legacy is just a commercial for Warner Bros. IP. Would you believe they’re treating most of this stuff as poorly as the Looney Tunes? Scooby Doo, Fred Flinstone, and Space Ghost make brief cameos that are visually on par with the Patterson Bigfoot clip. Meanwhile, the camera lingers on several real life human extras in screamingly awful Batman costumes. They’re on the sidelines of the big showdown, practically rubbing elbows with the main characters, even though they should be on house arrest at a Spirit Halloween.
If you’ve never seen the Looney Tunes before, Space Jam: A New Legacy will give you zero insight into their personalities. You might literally believe that Elmer Fudd is just a short guy from Austin Powers. That’s all they give him in this movie; they animate Fudd over the Verne Troyer reveal from The Spy Who Shagged Me. The premise here is that an evil computer algorithm has convinced the Looney Tunes they should be involved with more exciting franchises, so they’ve all left Looney Tune Land for stuff like The Matrix and Mad Max. See? The movie told the Looney Tunes they were boring and they agreed! And they don’t return to Looney Tune Land because they miss it. They return because the story necessitates that they partner with LeBron James to defeat Don Cheadle and his ragtag crew of NBA mutants.
There is a “serious” death scene for one of the characters in A New Legacy — “th-that’s all, folks!” they sputter melodramatically — but it doesn’t mean anything because the whole thing is reversed two minutes later. So not even a movie this big and dumb and critic-proof can escape the Marvel influence. Death is meaningless, life is meaningless, let’s smash our toys together. On the other hand, if they made 25 more Space Jams perhaps they’d eventually land on something interesting.
Space Jam: A New Legacy made me laugh once, when they dress Foghorn Leghorn up like Khaleesi from “Game of Thrones” so he can soar by on a dragon and throw out some catchphrase. I think that’s the most meaningless thing I’ve ever seen in my life. It deeply amused me.
CORRECTION: Bunsen Honeydew is the Muppet who dressed like Garth Brooks. I can’t believe I misremembered that thing I only saw once.
A: Iggy Pop, who I saw on the Beat ‘Em Up tour in 2001. He opened with “M.A.S.K.” and it was the only time a live performer totally had me from note one with a song I’d never heard before. It helped considerably that Iggy didn’t saunter to the stage like some “dig my life” asshole; rather, he bounded out in a frenzy, hopping to and fro and throwing swift jabs a la Bugs Bunny in “Rabbit Punch,” ready to square off against the Crusher. Pop grabbed the mic and gave two hundred percent as he bitterly ranted and wailed over “M.A.S.K.’s” mechanical smash. You could have cut the Ig’s passion, his societal dissatisfaction, his raw disgust, with only a chainsaw.
It didn’t really matter what he did after that—he played all the hits, of course, all with the same unbelievable energy, but he also played “Death Trip,” which I found miraculous simply because it seemed like a Stooges song Iggy’d surely skip in concert. There was a violent crowd surge when the band launched into “Search & Destroy,” to the point where I was immobilized for a minute or so by a cushion of damp bodies from all sides, and I thought, “Yeah, that’s the correct reaction to this sequence of guitar chords.”
Standing in line before the show I got to chatting with a couple in front of me, and the girl made some remark about how Iggy was the coolest person on the planet and he didn’t even have any tattoos, which ever since has been my mantra every time I think I want to get Krusty the Clown permanently branded on my bicep.