This weekend, I dimmed the lights, prepped by a 4-year-old with promises of Bugs Bunny, and sat the family down to watch Space Jam: A New Legacy. Going in, I thought myself prepared. I’d seen the original back in the proverbial day, and figured I was in for much of the same.
Friend, I was not. “….do they go to space any point?” Was the question my boyfriend finally asked, an hour and twenty minutes into the movie. I am here to tell you, that while there is jamming, none of it happens in outer space and that fact is one of the least confusing about the movie. So, LeBron James plays a version of himself who cannot parent and who turns down highly profitable partnerships with Warner Brothers—two things that are presumably untrue.
When his video-game-playing son Don admits he’d rather go to E3 camp to learn more about his hobby than he would work on his fundamentals on the court, the father and son are at odds. Then Don Cheadle, playing an algorithm for Warner Brothers (Al G. Rhythm, is his name) gets mad that King James turned down his deal and sucks both members of the James family into the server to play a game of basketball.
The movie is about an hour too long, but if you or someone you love wants to watch it, there is a fun game that you can play throughout: spot the most of out-of-place cameos! Warner Brothers makes full use of its stable of films and all their characters. It’s a move that might make sense if you are Disney, but one that leaves you scratching your head in this case. Here are eight left-field cameos, ranging from straight-up cool to derranged.
8. Michael B Jordan
When all hope seems lost for the Toon Squad, Daffy goes on a mission to find a savior. He comes back thrilled to announce that he’s recruited Michael Jordan to play for their team once more! Since, you know, LeBron wasn’t cutting it. Only, he’s got the wrong Jordan—actor Michael B. Jordan, who seems very confused as to how his visit to the snack stand went awry. He does try to bolster their spirits by quoting Friday Night Lights, a joke that will resonate with approximately zero of your children. We’ll still chalk this cameo up in the “cool” category, though.
7. Pennywise the Clown
When I think stuff my kid is gonna love, I tend not to think of Stephen King’s It, but here we are, or rather, here Pennywise is. The murderous clown (or an ancient alien spirit, for devotees) is prominently featured cheering on the Goon Squad, Don Cheadle’s posse of bad guys. Hilariously, you can spot Pennywise trying to engage with a White Walker from Game of Thrones and be almost entirely ignored.
6. Dave Chappelle, Kinda
Dave Chappelle is not in Space Jam. I need to be clear about that. But a reference to his show absolutely is: When Granny (of Tweety and Sylvester fame) is done showing off her hoops skills, she sinks her final basket and says, “game, blouses”, a reference to the iconic episode of The Chappelle Show wherein Charlie Murphy tells the story of playing basketball against the late great Prince.
5. Rick and Morty
In a blink and you missed it cameo, Rick and Morty are featured returning Taz, the Tasmanian devil, to his fellow toons. Apparently, they have been conducted some sort of experimentation on the guy, but he seems, you know, like his usual devilish self.
4. Wonder Woman
All of the toons have been busy since Al G. Rhythm told them about all the different properties that Warner Brothers owns that they might want to explore. Yes, that is a real thing, I am not making it up. Lola Bunny it seems has been training on Themyscira with the Amazons! In fact, she is declared an Amazon by Wonder Woman herself when she makes the decision to abandon her training and help Lebron James and his son no longer be stuck inside of a bank of servers.
4. The Matrix
The movie references The Matrix a bunch, but we aren’t treated to any of the characters from the film…unless you count Granny’s appearance there as cannon. Granny appears in a leather jumpsuit with Matrix-style sunglasses and the badass moves to go with them.
3. The Droogs from A Clockwork Orange
I fully screamed at this cameo. Present at courtside at big basketball games you’re likely to spot major celebrities, and that’s not so different in this movie. Only instead of spotting Jack Nicholson or Spike Lee in the crowd, it’s the Droogs from A Clockwork Orange, a movie I am 100 percent you have no intention of sharing with your young children.
2. TIE: The Iron Giant & King Kong
Both Iron and Giant and King Kong are featured in the audience for the big game. They are impossible to miss. Because they are King Kong and the Iron Giant. At one point, they share a fistbump and it was strangely way more adorable than I was prepared for it to be.
1. Mad Max: Fury Road
Another popular reference with the kids! Jk, jk. Wile E. Coyote joins the cast of this definitely not-for-kids franchise, holding up a sign that reads “Witness Me!” in reference to the film. Perhaps if he had been less focused on his sign-making, this could’ve been the time he finally caught that darn Roadrunner! Sadly, this was not the case.