When the trailer for “Space Jam: A New Legacy” was released, it required multiple viewings just to spot all the cameos of famous Warner Bros. characters. Filmmaker Malcolm D. Lee packed even more appearances into the film’s two-hour runtime, so if you’re watching at home on HBO Max, frequent pausing might be necessary to find all the famous and vintage pieces of Warners IP that have been incorporated.
Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James plays himself in this sequel to the 1996 film. James struggles to bond with his tech-savvy son Dom (Ceyair J. Wright), who dreams of being a video game developer.
The first throwback is to a young James playing the 1992 game “Looney Tunes” on a Nintendo Game Boy. As the film jumps to the present day, the story follows Don Cheadle’s character Al G Rhythm (wink, wink) who sucks the father-son duo into a virtual reality called the “Warner 3000 Entertainment Serververse.”
With Dom being held captive, James must defeat the formidable Goon Squad to save his son and escape the Serververse. In order to do so, he must reunite the Toon Squad, which includes a banished Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Lola Bunny, Marvin the Martian, Porky Pig, Roadrunner and the rest of the Looney Tunes.
Once audiences go inside the Serververse, that’s where the parade of classic characters truly begins — going all the way back to 1939’s “Wizard of Oz,” originally an MGM movie but now owned by Warners. There’s a nod to “Casablanca,” and naturally more recent Warners properties like “Game of Thrones” and “Harry Potter” make appearances.
Aside from familiar characters, film buffs will catch a glimpse of the white-suited Droogs from the R-rated “A Clockwork Orange,” and even a nun from Ken Russell’s “The Devils” — both of which will likely be lost on the kids in the audience. References from Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” to “Mad Max: Fury Road” are all shoehorned into the mix. Here are more of the callbacks and references in “Space Jam: A New Legacy.”