The shows reviewed today come from two very different directions. One is the next Space Jam installment, coming after 25 years; while the second is a musical comedy Limited Series, with the emphasis on comedy.
Space Jam: A New Legacy – A quarter of a century can be a long time for a sequel to appear, but that’s the story behind Space Jam. After the first Space Jam that starred Michael Jordan, we get this 2021 pandemic version with the King, LeBron James, heading the cast, in both live action and animated iterations. As strong family entertainment, the film opened last July 16 and despite the weak assessment from the critics, it toppled The Black Widow from its box office perch. Anthony Davis, Dame Lillard, Klay Thompson and WNBA stars, they all make an appearance to add texture to the live action segments of this film. And there’s Don Cheadle as the egotistical Al G. Rhythm, the closest thing we get to a villain.
The DC Universe of Batman, Superman & Wonder Woman, the Matrix, Austin Powers, Mad Max, Harry Potter, GOT, the Flintstones, King Kong, the list goes on and on in terms of mining WB properties and turning this adventure narrative into a potentially entertaining proposition. At the heart of the film are Daddy issues between LeBron and his son, a son who’s more into creating basketball video games than actually playing basketball. And you’ll be presented with LeBron’s Tune Squad versus his son’s Goon Squad in the ultimate computer generated Basketball game – all tucked into a multiverse interpretation of the Game – called the ServerVerse. Does it work? Well, there are enough bells and whistles, and the pitting of father against son is a new slant; but it’s more animated spectacle than investing in the characters as we do with say, Pixar films.
Schmigadoon! (Apple TV+) – What if your everyday, regular life suddenly became a period Broadway musical? Directed by Lorne Michaels, who’s better known for Saturday Night Live, Schmigadoon! (don’t forget the exclamation point, and the obvious nod to 1947’s Brigadoon) is a lighthearted romp that satirizes Broadway musicals, relationships, and TV shows like Glee. It runs for 6 episodes, and it’s shown weekly, with the final episode airing August 13th. It’s fun, knows how to go meta- and parody itself, so if you’re wondering if this is for you, think of some off-off-Broadway musical that’s being played to a crowd that’s allowed to drink during the performance, as slightly inebriated would be the best way to enjoy a show of this sort. The humor is earnest, but low-key.
Cecily Strong as Melissa, and Keegan-Michael Key as Josh, are a couple who go backpacking in the woods as part of an encounter group, trying to fix their relationship. Crossing a fog-shrouded bridge they end up in a world that’s very Oz, but filled with the most hokey characters to populate a Broadway stage – think Brigadoon, Music Man and Oklahoma-type of musicals. The humor comes from how Melissa and Josh try to engage with this world while still being themselves. Martin Short cameos as a leprechaun, and that should give you an idea of how ridiculous is being employed to be funny. And of course, the singing and dancing are all handled by professional performers. So while the songs and choreography are taken seriously, the lyrics and situations are aiming for comedy.