Critic's Corner: How to Make Space Jam 2 work
Hello ladies and gentlemen. My name is Steven Escareno aka Stevennix2001, and we're back with another edition of "Critic's Corner", where we not only review other film critics, but we also go over various other topics within the entertainment industry as well.
Normally, this is a monthly series, but I've been kind of putting it on hiatus for awhile, due to real life issues and stuff. However, I'm bringing "Critic's Corner" back, and I hope you all will enjoy this month's topic, "How to make Space Jam 2 work."
If you want to know what my real thoughts are on "Space Jam 2", then watch this guy. He shares the exact same thoughts that I have about this sequel
How Space Jam 2 will most likely end. ;)
Why I'm writing about this, and the general low down about "Space Jam 2" coming to theaters
Since LeBron James starred in the romantic comedy, "Trainwreck", he's been something of a hot commodity in the acting world. In fact, he's garnered so much praise for his performance that Warner Bros. offered him an exclusive contract. No, I'm not kidding either.
Apparently, LeBron James will be getting his own studio, where Warner Bros. will get exclusive distribution rights over any movies, TV shows, and etc that his studio produces for them. No word yet on all the planned projects that LeBron has up his sleeve, but one of them is "Space Jam 2."
After the deal was finalized, there were rumors of a "Space Jam 2" in the works, but it was nothing concrete. At best, all you heard was that Warner Bros. was in discussions for acquiring some of the rights back to "Space Jam", but that doesn't necessarily mean there would've been a sequel, or a reboot for that matter. But with the recent news of Justin Lin (who's mostly known for his "Fast and Furious" films) being hired on to direct the sequel, it seems "Space Jam 2" is slowly becoming an inevitability. Will it crash and burn? Or will it surpass the original? I can't really say because only time will tell.
But since this news has gotten out, various people (including the original director of the first movie) have spoken out about how they feel this new movie is destined to fail. And while I can't say I disagree with that, I am going to say that I won't be talking about my reasons why this film will most likely fail. After all, there's tons of articles written about why it'll fail already that I'm not sure if I could really add anything that most of you haven't heard before. That's why instead I'm going to be writing an article that outlines how "Space Jam 2" could work on the big screen.
Among the various articles calling it a bad idea, I would like to toss my hat into the ring as the proverbial voice of reason if only to make sense of this utter madness. Here is a list of things that I would personally do to make sure "Space Jam 2" was a hit if I was either Justin Lin or one of the producers. Here we go in no particular order.
1. Bring Back Michael Jordan
Maybe I'm being an old nostalgia nut for saying this, but Michael Jordan needs to come back if this is truly going to be a sequel. Let's be honest. LeBron may not like this, but he's always going to be compared to Michael Jordan. And with this upcoming "Space Jam 2", the comparisons are only going to get worse, so why not embrace it?
Unlike LeBron James of today, Michael Jordan was indisputably the greatest player of his generation. It was one the main reasons why "Space Jam" worked so well in the 90's. Jordan wasn't just a mere basketball player in the eyes of movie fans. He was an iconic figure that everyone wanted to emulate to some degree. And since this "Space Jam 2" will look like LeBron's cheap attempt to self proclaim himself as the new king of basketball, then perhaps it might go well if he stars alongside Michael Jordan.
Granted, I know Michael is in his 50's, so he's not the same player he used to be. However, he doesn't have to be. Think Apollo Creed in "Rocky III." Apollo shows up and trains Rocky Balboa for the fight of his life. The same can happen here.
Maybe when the Looney Tunes are in danger again, they call upon Jordan's help once more, but he's too old this time. Jordan originally suggests seeking the help of Kobe Bryant, but he's too old as well, so that leaves them with only one option....LeBron James. (mic drop)
Michael Jordan can offer to coach the new Toons Squad, while LeBron James plays alongside them. During the game, many of the characters can get hurt like the original, which would force Jordan to come out of retirement once more to help the Toon Squad again.
Jordan can even say his patented catch phrase, "I'm back", and Bugs can make an off handed fourth wall joke by saying, "Oh brother, here we go again." A subtle joke that jabs at the various times Jordan has come out of retirement saying that line. The setup writes itself. Who wouldn't want to see Michael Jordan and LeBron James playing side by side as teammates? It would be every basketball fan's wet dream. It would be perfect from a marketing perspective.
LeBron will NEVER escape the comparisons to Michael; whether he likes it or not. But wouldn't it be something if "Space Jam 2" made it seem like the passing of the torch for LeBron? Similar to how "Smallville" fans cheered over the prospect of Christopher Reeves making a guest appearance on the show as if to imply he was passing the torch to Tom Welling at the time. The same can happen here.
Plus, LeBron even said it himself that he's always wanted to meet Michael Jordan, but he never bothered to seek him out. What better opportunity to have them meet than this picture? It would not only be a symbolic passing of the torch, but it would even give old nostalgia fans of the original more reason to check out the new movie.
2. Cast Jim Parsons in a supporting role
Although "Space Jam" won most of it's box office appeal off the popularity of both Jordan and the Looney Tunes back in the 90's, another reason might've been Wayne Knight's involvement as well. Back when the first "Space Jam" came out, Wayne Knight was involved in a highly popular critically acclaimed sitcom called "Seinfeld", while also appearing in another popular sitcom called "3rd Rock from the Sun."
"Seinfeld" was a popular show for a while, and it's no secret that it carried a large fan base of it's own. Therefore, it's not hard to imagine that maybe his involvement carried some weight at the box office. But what other comedic sitcom even comes close to having such an appeal these days?
Enter "The Big Bang Theory." While I could easily cast any of the other people from that show into this movie, but here's the thing. Wayne Knight was never a main character in either "3rd Rock from the Sun" or "Seinfeld." He was always known for his supporting roles in both series. In fact, you could argue that Michael Richards (the guy who played Kramer) was more of an iconic figure on "Seinfeld" than Wayne ever was, and since LeBron wants to beat out the original "Space Jam", then why not go a bit bigger this time? Instead of casting any of the other people from "Big Bang Theory", why not cast the most iconic one out of all of them? Sheldon Cooper aka Jim Parsons would be perfect for this movie.
He not only brings in the "Big Bang Theory" audience with him potentially, but he also fits in well with the type of character Wayne Knight played in "Space Jam." In the first movie, Wayne was portrayed as a bumbling nerd that was assigned to be Michael Jordan's personal assistant.
Maybe in "Space Jam 2", Jim Parsons can take on the bumbling nerdish role. After all, he's gotten plenty of practice from the "Big Bang Theory", and he could play either the publicist or personal assistant to LeBron himself.
Jim has a childlike spunky personality which could compliment that comedic over the top humor of the Looney Tunes characters. If nothing else, it'll be very entertaining to watch.
"I believe I can fly" by R. Kelly
3. DO NOT BRING BACK R. KELLY
While i could be dooming "Space Jam 2" to commercial suicide by not including the classic song, "I believe I can fly", that became synonymous with the first one, I think the consequences of including it could be a lot worse by comparison.
Although it's been years since R. Kelly was charged for having sex with a minor, the fact remains that it still happened. People haven't forgotten about it either, so including his music into the sequel could potentially turn off parents from taking their kids to see "Space Jam 2."
Therefore, I think it would be best for all parties involved if he's not asked to do the music for "Space Jam 2", and it would probably be best to forget about including the song, "I believe I can fly", because the risk of including it would significantly outweigh the rewards.
4. The sellout and cash grab comments are unvoidable, so you might as well own it.
Like the "Lego Movie" and "21 Jump Street", you know a ton of sellout and cash grab comments are coming towards "Space Jam 2." It's practically a given at this point, so why not own up to it? Like "21 Jump Street", Warner Bros. should consider having writers put in quite a few well placed "cash grab" and "sellout" jokes throughout "Space Jam 2." This not only eliminates the possibility of haters using it against the film, but it also helps create a situation where audiences might actually start laughing with the movie rather than at it.
Doing a few jokes like that could go a long way for most audiences, as it could be clever and fun if they can get the right screenwriters behind it.
5. Cast Kevin Hart in a supporting role
While I'm not the biggest Kevin Hart fan out there, I do think a setup like this could be perfect for his style of comedy. Kevin Hart is a huge NBA fan, and he's been featured in the celebrity all star game a few times. Why not take advantage of it? He could be essentially what Bill Murray was to the first one. A celebrity playing himself (which Kevin Hart does anyway in all his movies), as he joins the Toon Squad to help them win a basketball game.
His zany goofball antics combined with the over the top craziness of the Looney Tunes might be a match made in heaven. As far as how he would be used, I think I have a perfect setup for this as well.
Similar to Bill Murray's character in "Space Jam", we can have Kevin Hart meeting LeBron James in a public setting. Kevin can boast throughout most of the film on how he could've played in the NBA, while LeBron shrugs him off. Only to lead to a dramatic payoff to where he does contribute to the Toon Squad in a big way around the end.
Too similar to the first one you say? Just make a fourth wall joke about how much of a rip off that scenario is, and it could work to the film's advantage.
6. Raise the stakes while re-utilizing the Monstars again
Unlike Warner Bros. recent animated hit, "The Lego Movie", the setup for "Space Jam" didn't lend itself to any sequels. At least with "The Lego Movie", it's set up to where you could literally go anywhere with the story, which offers tons of creative freedom to anyone bold enough to take on the project. You were introduced to various "Lego" worlds that were vastly under utilized in the first one that could be ripe to taken advantage of in a future sequel. Lego toys have always been about inspiring imaginative minds everywhere, and the film reflected that for the most part.
Whereas "Space Jam", it was pretty cut and dry. Aliens want to enslave the Looney Tunes, so they call upon Michael Jordan to help beat them in a basketball game. Michael helps them win. The former monstars join the Looney Tunes in their world, and Michael comes back to basketball. Everyone is happy. The end. Hardly any room to make a sequel based on this premise.
However, i think I have an idea on how to fix that. Three words come to mind: "Raise the stakes." If you watch the first one, the only thing that was ever at stake was both the freedom of Michael Jordan and the Looney Tune world. Our world was oblivious to those events, according to the film. However, what if that wasn't the case in "Space Jam 2?"
Here's my idea. The president of Moron Mountain went bankrupt. Yes, I know it's tragic. Speaking of which, they should recast Danny DeVito if he's willing to reprise this role. If not, then Paul Giammati might be a suitable replacement for this voice role. Moving on. The president of Moron Mountain went bankrupt because he failed to acquire new attractions after the event of "Space Jam", so he seeks revenge. Notice how the Monstars were NEVER mentioned again in any of the future Looney Tunes shows, after "Space Jam." Maybe we can use that for the movie. Stay with me for a moment, as I'm about to make a point.
Take in mind, the Looney Tunes were breaking the fourth wall way before Deadpool came along, so this is what i'm thinking. Behind the scenes of various shows like "Duck Dodgers", the new "Looney Tunes Show", and etc, the Monstars can be shown working behind the scenes as mostly their personal assistants and/or janitors, which ironically makes their position in looney tune world not that much different than what they had before in "Space Jam." The Monstars start to feel betrayed, and under appreciated. However, the president of Moron Mountain gets a hold them. Granted, they don't trust him at first, but he sweet talks them with his silver tongue. He convinces them that he's changed, and even tells them that if they help him get revenge, then he'd make them equal partners in his next business venture, which is actually a lie of course.
After coercing them to join his side, they start to hatch a plan to get revenge on both Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes. This leads them to challenging our heroes to another basketball game for revenge, while they steal more talent from the NBA to make it happen. However, here's the clincher. Instead of just the Looney Tunes' world being in jeopardy, the president of Moron Mountain says that if our heroes were to lose that not only would they enslave Looney Tune world, but our world as well.
They can even do a quick fight scene, where allegedly Moron Mountain's military defenses outclass our own to where our governments have inevitably no choice, but to comply. Unlike the last movie, everyone on the planet will be watching the Toon Squad's rematch with the Monstars, so the real world won't be oblivious to it this time. Everyone will be watching. But wait, how do you tie this into real life like the last one? Just deus ex machina the hell out of this of course. Just set it up around the end when the good guys win that everyone in our world (with the exception of LeBron James, Jim Parsons, Kevin Hart and Michael Jordan of course) mysteriously forgets everything that happens, and boom. Problem solved.
7. Have this entire film set up before LeBron's first title.
Yes, I know a lot of fans would rather this film take place before LeBron made his infamous "decision" to go back to Cleveland. I understand that, but as a LeBron James hater, I have a hard time believing he'll end his career as a Cavalier. And it seems, Steven A. Smith (from ESPN) doesn't disagree with me either. Plus if you set it up to where it takes place after he loses to the Dallas Mavericks in the finals prior to his first title, then it would be perfect. The setup would write itself.
After the Looney Tunes ask Michael Jordan for help, he can recommend Kobe Bryant at first, but then Bugs can cite that he's way too old, which could lead to another wall break joke from Daffy saying how that they probably should've made this movie sooner so they could get Kobe. Then Lola asks, "Then who do we get to help us?" Enter LeBron James.
One of the main ongoing jokes throughout the film can be Daffy Duck and various other characters citing how LeBron has never won an NBA title before. Saying crap like, "Why should we trust this guy? He's never won anything." This can lead to LeBron James being motivated against the Monstars to show he can win, when it counts.
Plus, it could lead to some interesting smack talk by the Monstars, as they try to get under his skin. which would make the payoff of LeBron beating them all that much sweeter.
And when LeBron wins the game for the Toons Squad, he takes the experience to go on to win two NBA titles in real life. It ties itself up perfectly because much like "Space Jam" tried to imply it was the reason Jordan came out of retirement, "Space Jam 2" can try to imply that it's the reason why LeBron was finally able to learn how to be a winner in the NBA. Not only would this help differentiate it from the original movie, but it could be set up as a heartfelt underdog story if it's played up right.
8. Use the fourth wall break to explain the differing personalities of the Looney Tunes from the first movie to the modern spin offs that followed
Before "Deadpool" revolutionized the superhero genre with his comedic quip and fourth wall breaking style humor, the Looney Tunes were breaking the fourth wall since the creators of "Deadpool" were nothing more than twinkles in their great grand pappy's eyes.
What does this have to do with "Space Jam 2" you may ask? I'll get to that momentarily. After "Space Jam", there's been a lot of TV spin offs based on the Looney Tunes over the years. But in some of the recent incarnations, the personalities of the characters were changed to fit the story; some ranging from subtle to flat out re-imagining them completely.
Take "The Looney Tunes Show" for example. In that series, Lola Bunny's personality was revamped completely. In the original "Space Jam", she was basically a sex symbol for furries. Granted, she did have some semblance of a personality in that she was a bit tom boyish, and her pet peeve was being called "doll" because she was the token female on the Toon Squad.
But at the end of the day, most people seem to only remember her for being Bugs' defacto girlfriend, and a furry sex symbol. Needless to say, they had to rewrite her character completely in the "Looney Tunes show" to make her more of a character. Granted, she was still Bugs' defacto girlfriend in the series, but they gave her more of a personality. She was turned into quirky hyper active air head, who's not only a touch insane, but she seems to be crazy about Bugs, as she even stalks him on a few occasions. Sadly, this new incarnation was met with mixed reactions.
But the problem is...which version of these characters do you go with? Please, keep in mind. A lot of young audiences didn't grow up with the old school Looney Tunes that 80's kids like me grew up with, nor do I believe using the revamped personalities from "The Looney Tunes show" would work either to draw in the older fans.
So what do you do? Here's what I'm suggesting. Show a brief five minute segment of "The Looney Tunes Show", and then you hear a director say "Cut." This prompts our characters to allegedly break out of character, as they start act like they were in "Space Jam." But here's the rub. In the case of Lola for instance, you can use this to have the best of both worlds.
Even though Lola would essentially be the same character from the first one, you can take some of the best aspects of her "Looney Tunes Show" persona, and mix them in with her "Space Jam" persona, so fans can have the best of both worlds. This way old school fans can still get the Lola we remember, but new audiences that grew up with modern iterations can still have the new Lola in essence.
9. End it on a "Rocky III" note
For those of you who never saw "Rocky III", it ended with Apollo Creed and Rocky Balboa having a third rematch. Nobody is around to see it of course, as it's more of a friendly match to see who's the best. They each throw a punch, at the exact same time at each other, but it ends before we can ever see who wins, nor does any future sequel tell us who wins (at least if you don't count "Creed").
"Space Jam 2" can end on a "Rocky III" note. After LeBron James makes the game winning shot to help the Toon Squad beat the monstars, Michael Jordan and him can start swapping old stories about their playing days. LeBron can tell Michael how much he appreciates his tutelage, and Michael can make a light hearted jab about how LeBron would never know how to win in the clutch if it wasn't for him. They both have a good laugh, and then they decide to play a private one on one pickup game together. LeBron can start dribbling the ball, as Michael Jordan defends him. And the instant LeBron tries to dribble past Jordan, you freeze frame it, and never show who wins. Like Stan Lee once said, if you want to keep fanboys talking, then you always have to make sure a match between two superheroes always ends in a tie, so fans can debate about it for hours. Afterwards, you show a few dozen highlights during the credits of LeBron's success, from that point forward.
10. End Credit Scene with Kobe Bryant (and possibly Stephen Curry if he wins his second title this year)
Since end credit scenes are becoming popular in today's movies, "Space Jam 2" might be ripe to have one as well. Since fanboys are going to whine and b**** about how much they think Kobe should've been in "Space Jam 2" a few years ago, or how Stephen Curry should be in it now, then why not make a joke about it in the end credit scene? I have the perfect setup for it too.
After the credits roll, we transition to an end credit scene where Kobe is watching "Space Jam 2." He grins saying, "Man, they should've gotten me to star in this movie." And if Stephen Curry wins the title this year, then you can have him sitting next to Kobe, while eating popcorn. He can reply, "You? What about me? I beat this dude in the finals twice, and I wasn't even in the film. Pfft."
Of course, Tim Duncan wouldn't be such a bad replacement if Curry fails to win another title this year. Just saying.
Granted, it may not sound funny in theory, but it would be a nice nudge and a wink to NBA fans everywhere.
11,. Utilize LeBron's natural charisma and comedic timing
While I'm not the biggest LeBron James fan out there, I will give him in credit where credit is due. Regardless of how you may feel about him as a basketball player, he's arguably a talented comedic actor as well. Granted, he was playing himself in "Trainwreck", but the version of himself that was playing seemed more like a caricature version rather than the real LeBron James. As we saw in "Trainwreck" and his mini series, "The LeBrons", James can often come off as both charismatic and funny. He's probably the best NBA player turned actor that I've seen since Kareem Abdul Jabbar. No offense to Michael Jordan, who will always be the greatest NBA player of all time, but he's not a great actor.
As the popular internet celebrity, the Nostalgia Critic, pointed out in his review of "Space Jam", Michael Jordan didn't even seem like he was really trying to act half the time. Whereas LeBron in "Trainwreck", the guy displayed an intriguing comedic wit. And if you watch the original Nike commercial that the mini cartoon, "The Lebrons", was based on, it's pretty obvious that LeBron has shown that he's capable of a wide comedic range that's aching to be explored.
Granted, LeBron will never surpass Michael Jordan in the eyes of some NBA fans, but he can still outdo him in the acting department, as he's already proven that off of his Nike commercials alone. Justin Lin would be a damn fool not to exploit LeBron's natural acting talents, as the Looney Tunes over the top humor could mesh perfectly with LeBron's untapped comedic timing.
i honestly don't expect Justin Lin, or anyone at Warner Bros,. to ever bother reading this hub, nor follow it if they do . If anything, they probably already have their own ideas on what to do with "Space Jam 2" that may or may not be better than the outline for success that I've laid out for it. But whatever happens, I just hope we end up with a great movie.
If not, then you can bet your sweet a** that I'm going to give it the verbal lashing it deserves for being a piece of crap.
© 2016 Steven Escareno