Austin Burke’s review published on Letterboxd:
A rogue artificial intelligence kidnaps the son of famed basketball player LeBron James, who then has to work with Bugs Bunny to win a basketball game.
Here we have a sequel to one of my childhood favorites. Many would assume fans of the original will feel competitive with this new film, and clearly that is the case on IMDb (insanity), but every part of me wanted this movie to be great. I was so excited to see what WB could do with this premise and the recognition of LeBron James. This whole Michael versus LeBron debate will inevitably come into play, but who cares as long as we get a good movie (that being said, it’s Michael). What works is when the focus is on James and the tunes. While his relationship with a few of our members isn’t fleshed out, his companionship with bugs is fun enough. It is so much fun to see our squad come back to life and even become 3D characters at a point.
Then we have Don Cheadle eating up his screen-time, and he gives an entertaining performance. This sequel is not without the occasional showing of heart, and an example would be James and his son’s relationship. The message here is sweet and important, but it takes the entire film to revisit it. Instead of focusing on that or just the glory of our tunes, the film decides to cram every little bit of intellectual property it can into the screenplay. This would not be an issue (at all) if it amplified the story. Instead, it bloats and convolutes what could have been something so beautifully simple. It is not without its moments, as some of these Easter eggs are too fun to not get excited about, but it fails as a cohesive film on that level.
The game itself is also a huge misstep. The rules of this basketball game are ridiculous and almost meaningless, and it becomes so over-the-top at times. Why couldn’t we just play basketball instead of listening to a Porky Pig rap and accumulating “style points?” I understand that this is all just included in a film built for kids, and I am being way too harsh, and I have no right to judge it like this (YouTube comments, so on and so forth). My intentions are not to be nit-picky and unfair, as most of my anger comes from seeing the potential in this story. Just a shift in focus a could have saved this film. It all needs to be scaled back because the heart gets lost in the madness. Beyond the story flaws, LeBron does struggle at times. He is having fun, and that is all that matters, but he doesn’t entirely deliver. That being said, I would like to see him do more.
It also delivers a completely forgettable soundtrack and score. The simplicity and soundtrack made Space Jam magical, but one key people often forget about is having someone like Bill Murray. This sequel is missing someone to shift focus away from the awkward moments or just bring a scene home with a well-timed joke. This film is missing a Bill Murray. “Why compare to the original so much?” Why not? Many will enjoy this more than the first, and I fully admit to my nostalgia there, but I genuinely believe the first film far exceeds this one. At the end of the day, everything I say matters not to young kids watching all of these characters on screen together. They will love it and grow up with this film like we did the first. Many “kid’s movies” go beyond that and manage to hit a certain mark or appeal to adults as well as kids. That mark wasn’t hit here (for me), but I am so interested to see what everyone else thinks. On the bright side, at least we got Big Chungus.
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🔜Escape Room 2