Joe Pytka, the director the original 1996 Space Jam, has seen the brand new sequel, Space Jam: A New Legacy, and he has a lot to say about the film in an interview with TMZ. Very little of it is nice.
According to the interview, the director required five separate sessions to complete the two-hour runtime of Space Jam: A New Legacy. The director cited a number of issues with the film, starting with LeBron James’ celebrity. When Space Jam his theaters, Michael Jordan was the biggest celebrity in the world, Pytka said. While LeBron is an accomplished athlete, “the truth is that LeBron ain’t Michael,” Pytka said. He also said that the movie didn’t do enough to connect Space Jam to LeBron’s own life, the way his original film did.
Pytka continued, citing what he considered a far superior cast in Space Jam, which included Charles Barkley and Bill Murray, and called the original’s soundtrack a classic, while Space Jam: A New Legacy’s soundtrack is “insignificant.”
His harshest criticism is about Bugs Bunny, though. The new version “looked like one of those fluffy dolls you buy at an airport gift shop to bring your kid when your business trip has taken too long,” Pytka said, while the original Space Jam made sure its take on Bugs reflected previous iterations of the character. He called Bugs’ role in the new film “heartbreaking.”
TMZ correctly notes, though, that Pytka’s Space Jam was panned by critics at the time. Even today, the original has a 44% critic rating and 63% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, while Space Jam: A New Legacy hovers around 28% and 81% respectively, suggesting that critics and moviegoers are a bit more divided this time around.