This mediocre mashup is the empty marketing ploy that A NEW LEGACY was cynically accused of being
Teen Titans Go! See Space Jam is a TV movie which premiered on Cartoon Network on June 20, 2021 to hype the coming of Space Jam: A New Legacy. It later released to digital platforms on July 27.
My kids (6 and 4) are big fans of both Teen Titans Go! and of the original Space Jam film which they recently discovered, so it was a no-brainer for us to check out their new crossover movie. I was excited to show it to them and maybe blow their minds by the film’s crossover aspect.
Unfortunately, in what seems to be a case of diminishing returns, this Space Jam semi-quel and third film in the Teen Titans Go! series (following the stellar Teen Titans Go! To The Movies and lesser but still worthwhile followup Teen Titans Go! vs Teen Titans) is a huge step down for both franchises.
The film’s wraparound story concerns the Teen Titans encountering the Nerdlucks, the diminutive aliens who served as the antagonists of the original Space Jam, who invite them to watch the movie together.
Most of the film’s runtime is literally an abridged version of the movie Space Jam with the conceit of the gang watching the movie together and riffing on it MST3K style. I knew this going in, counting on my appreciation for both properties to have a good time.
The Teen Titans part of the equation is smaller than expected. There’s only three minutes of setup before the Space Jam viewing kicks in, with a few more short asides advancing that plotline (unsurprisingly, the Nerdlucks steal the Titan’s powers).
The Space Jam parts of the film feature a “Teen Titans Go!” watermark in the corner to help allay confusion from viewers who might jump in late, and has some additional animation illustrating the character commentary — both in the form of dialogue balloons to show who’s talking, and other visual gags.
There are definitely some pretty funny comments from the gang as they watch the movie, and a pointed joke about “Jam Central”, the 1996 movie’s famously longstanding and now comically outdated (but impressive for its time) website.
But for the most part it all feels kind of lifeless, and many of the quips fall flat. The Space Jam component is both too much and too little — it looms too large as a component of a Teen Titans Go! movie, yet is choppily abridged in a way that the movie loses much of its own charm.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the noticeable absence of its famous soundtrack, likely due to licensing entanglements. Even the brief gag in which Yosemite Sam and Elmer Fudd parody Pulp Fiction has a completely different guitar riff replacing five seconds of Dick Dale’s “Miserlou”, utterly ruining the moment.
The wraparound story doesn’t really go anywhere either, having little meaningful plot — though it ends on a pretty hilarious note. Plus my kids enjoyed, it so in a certain sense the movie does what it set out to do.
As a TV movie, it’s fine. But for home video purposes, this really should have been included as a new bonus feature on the recent Space Jam 4K Blu-ray, which sported no new extras. In that context, I would’ve championed it as a valuable component and indeed a compelling reason to consider the new disc beyond the resolution uptick. But as a standalone digital release initially priced at $20, the cost of a “real movie”, it definitely feels like a blatant cash grab.
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