Let the ingenious combination of basketball and cartoon characters commence yet again! It looks like LeBron James is set to star in Space Jam 2 — and, oh yeah, Space Jam 2 is a thing that is happening.
The original movie, which starred the not-quite-thespian Michael Jordan (what? You think his resume is dripping in dramatic credentials?), came out in 1996, which incidentally enough, was the same year that Kazaam, which starred Shaquille O’Neill in what Bleacher Report calls “the worst athlete acting performance (yet),” arrived in theaters. Rotten Tomatoes gave Kazaam a not-so-jaw-droppingly low score of 6%, because most of us don’t expect Citizen Kane when a basketball star shows up to set. In a not too dissimilar fate, Space Jam did not fare too well, either; however, it received a slightly higher score of 36% on Rotten Tomatoes because we all know that if you stick cartoon characters that stir up the warm cup of tea in your heart known as nostalgia in a sub-par movie, you instantly gain points in reviewers’ notebooks. The movie is also notable for boasting R. Kelly’s anthem for sad but hopeful karaoke enthusiasts around the world, “I Believe I Can Fly.”
However, we shouldn't be too dismissive of the power of the combination of star athletes plus star cartoon. It's a quite notable formula, since the original movie grossed $230 million worldwide.
So, why Space Jam 2 now — a whopping 18 years after the original? What about the state arts and entertainment mandates that we revisit the original film nearly two decades later? Well, why the hell not?! Sometimes you just gotta do things for the love of the game (and the box office). The sequel will be developed by Charlie Ebersol and Willie Ebersol, broadcaster Dick Ebersol’s sons. Charlie Ebersol already has a good relationship with the NFL, from his USA series NFL Characters Unite, so he'll likely be able to easily build relationships with NBA stars (which means cameos!). It's a first for a bunch of people on board, as this marks both Charlie Ebersol's and LeBron James’s first film deal. (James has showcased his acting chops on Saturday Night Live, and has proven that he is worthy of starring alongside cartoons in a sequel to a poorly received movie.) While no one is hungrily anticipating meaty Oscar fare, it’ll probably chew up the box office anyway, ‘cause aren’t we all just a little nostalgic for the original movie, anyway?
Image: Warner Bros. Entertainment