By: Max Wolpoff
Riding on the T on a day-off from classes, I scrolled rather mindlessly through Instagram. I was on my way to an eye doctor to pick up new glasses, and struggled to see my phone less than a foot in front of my face while wearing an old pair of spectacles.
While it was rumored for a while, seeing this post finally brought the most anticipated sports movie sequel since D2: The Mighty Ducks into clear view.
It is happening. LeBron James will actually star in Space Jam 2, the sequel to the live-action/animated original featuring Michael Jordan. Now, there will be one more measuring stick to compare the two basketball giants: how well each acted with cartoon characters.
Exciting though this news is, the creative direction of the movie needs to be fundamentally different from Jordan’s trip through Looney Tunes.
Jordan had the easy plot point of not playing basketball anymore, something James is still under contract to do for the next four years for the Los Angeles Lakers. Will his new Laker teammates be in the movie like some of Jordan’s pals from the Chicago Bulls?
During what activity, and why, will Bugs Bunny and crew haul James into the cartoon world? Will Bill Murray, or another celebrity, make a cameo appearance during a round of golf before James is sucked down one of the holes?
The Monstars, the quirky set of alien villains tasked with finding new attractions for their overlord boss on Moron Mountain, are assembled by stealing talents from some big-time NBA players. Two men from that roster, Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing, are in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
If the sequel decides to go with the same plot device, who will the aliens steal talent from this time around? Speculation is rampant. Is Kawhi Leonard’s defense enough to make the cut? Will Gordon Hayward be the tall white guy like Shawn Bradley was, or will that fall to Kristaps Porzingis? Does casting gamble on a promising young talent like Giannis Antetokounmpo or Karl-Anthony Towns? Is there a spot for the likes of John Wall or Carmelo Anthony, who have been in the league for years and never seen much playoff success?
Or is it easier to steal the whole of the Golden State Warriors just for the fun of it? Do not lie to yourself, it would be entertaining to see the entire team turn into the villains they already are to so many in the NBA. After all, Steve Kerr, current head coach of the real-life Monstars of the Bay, is in the original film in a non-speaking role.
Most importantly, why are the Monstars coming back? One of the last scenes of the original movie is the alien henchmen turning on their boss and firing him off to the moon, then pleading to stay with the Looney Tunes. Did something happen to irk them and now they want revenge, so they revert to their dastardly ways of before? Did the boss rebuild his terrible amusement park on the moon and now has a new set of cronies to seek a star attraction?
And how will James return to Earth? A spaceship cannot land inside the Staples Center like it can on a baseball field.
Part of the allure of Space Jam is not simply watching Daffy Duck try to play basketball. Some basketball fans know the movie by heart, the same way baseball fans may know The Sandlot or Field of Dreams. It remains a cultural staple of the sport almost 22 years after its release. Very few movies, especially those with low Rotten Tomatoes scores, stay in such high regard for this long.
In one hour, the Instagram post by SpringHill Entertainment garnered around 8,000 likes. The movie will make money. I do not need my updated glasses to see that. The hope is that it will also elevate into the movie cannon among basketball fans: a film one must watch to really understand the sport.