Original ‘Space Jam’ Director Rips Sequel: ‘LeBron Ain’t Michael’

Joe Pytka also said he endured five different sessions just to get through the film's entire two-hour running time.
space jam 2
"Space Jam: A New Legacy"
Warner Bros.

Space Jam: A New Legacy,” despite reigning as king of the box office last weekend, has been hit with some pretty harsh reviews. But no critic has hit where it hurts quite so hard as the original 1996 film’s director Joe Pytka, who shredded the film in a recent interview with TMZ, telling the outlet that it took him five different viewings to make it through the film’s two-hour running time.

“The truth is that LeBron ain’t Michael,” Pytka said comparing the new film’s star, LA Lakers basketball player LeBron James to the original film’s lead, Michael Jordan, one of the biggest celebrity athletes of all time.

Also among his complaints were the film’s “insignificant” soundtrack and Bugs Bunny’s “heartbreaking” new role (and not in a good way). Pytka said that the new version of Bugs Bunny “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 previously told Entertainment Weekly that he previously shot down directing a sequel to the movie when reps for Philadelphia 76ers center Dwight Howard approached him about helming another entry in the franchise.

“I’ve worked with three people that have this magical quality that they affect people no matter what; they see them and some light goes on,” he said. “Michael Jordan, Michael Jackson, and Madonna. All three have this quality where people connect immediately without understanding anything about them. And nobody else has that quality. LeBron is a fantastic basketball player, he’s a top-20 basketball player of all time. He is not Michael. Maybe they should call it something else. They should not call it ‘Space Jam 2,’ or whatever. It should be another movie. It’s not ‘Space Jam.’ ‘Space Jam’ is Michael Jordan. No matter how much LeBron wants to be a great player — and he is a great player — he’s not Michael Jordan. There will never be another Michael Jordan.”

IndieWire’s Kate Erbland excoriated “A New Legacy” in her review, writing, “Directed by prolific filmmaker Malcolm D. Lee and scripted by no less than six screenwriters (not counting the four who crafted the original film), ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ is as relentlessly odd as its predecessor, but its even giddier interest in corporate synergy turns it into a far more cynical outing. It will sell so many plush toys.”

Daily Headlines
Daily Headlines covering Film, TV and more.

By subscribing, I agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

PMC Logo
IndieWire is a part of Penske Media Corporation. © 2023 IndieWire Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.