Joe Pytka, director of the iconic 1996 film, was less than impressed with the 2021 rendition starring LeBron James. According to TMZ, it took Pytka “5 separate sessions to complete its 2-hour runtime.”
Like many of us, Pytka was hoping Space Jam: A New Legacy would come close to the film that was a landmark in so many of our childhoods. Aligned with the general consensus from those who have seen the film, Pytka had some harsh criticism for the new direction.
The director felt some of the weight of the difference fell in the fact that “when Space Jam was made in 1996, MJ wasn’t just the best basketball player … he was the biggest celebrity in the world.” He did praise LeBron as an amazing athlete and actor but stated, “the truth is that LeBron ain’t Michael.”
Pytka also intentionally connected the plot of the film to Michael Jordan’s real life at the time, and felt Space Jam: A New Legacy was missing that vital connection. Additional flaws included the supporting cast; in Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard. The director believed that MJ’s legendary cast of Charles Barkley, Muggsy Bogues, Shawn Bradley, and Bill Murray was far better.
Despite his opinion, Pytka objectively acknowledged that the original Space Jam faced criticism just as brutal, and still went on to become a classic. Only time will tell.
Check out our rundown of the film here.