LeBron James and I are both Millennials. I’d guess that’s all we have in common. (Well, apparently we’re both Hufflepuffs.) Despite what you read about Millennials being the youths who are killing Applebee’s (RIP) and whining, many of us are turning the corner of our mid-30s toward 40. We’re raising kids and getting nostalgic for our youth—the 1990s in all their DayGlo glory. You know what sells? Nostalgia. That market factor is the only way I can explain how Space Jam: A New Legacy and Netflix’s Fear Street trilogy were released.
In Space Jam: A New Legacy, LeBron James is struggling to connect with his younger son, Dom (Cedric Joe), who is more interested in coding a video game than in playing basketball. Through an absurd, convoluted setup, LeBron is sucked into the Warner Bros. universe by the vindictive Al G. Rhythm (Don Cheadle). He then has to put together a crack team of Looney Toons to play a basketball game against the characters of his son’s video game in order to come back. Meanwhile, Al G. Rhythm is playing on Dom’s insecurities to foster hostility between father and son, exactly like Captain Hook does in the classic film Hook.
Nothing in this movie is original. The premise is a remake; the jokes are all built off of references to Warner Bros. properties from Harry Potter to Wonder Woman; and the central conflict is a common trope in kids’ movies. On top of that unoriginality, the screenplay is trite and boring and no one in this movie can act, not even Don Cheadle. The result is an unwatchable cash grab. I can’t believe the hype about this movie lasted for years without producing an enjoyable movie.
Space Jam: A New Legacy was directed by Malcolm D. Lee based on Space Jam, written by Leo Benvenuti, Steve Rudnick, and Timothy Harris. It runs 1 hour 55 minutes and is rated PG.
Although I enjoyed the original Space Jam and its amazing soundtrack, my R.L. Stine reading was limited to the Goosebumps series. Because I never branched out to the Fear Street books, I came to the trilogy of movies without any context. The Fear Street movies pickup the origin story for the series’ setting, Shadyside, and dives deep into the story of a witch, Sarah Fier (Elizabeth Scopel), whose curse on the area resurfaces every generation resulting in a mass murder. With a strange series of killings breaking out in 1994, teenagers Deena (Kiana Madeira), Samantha (Olivia Scott Welch), Josh (Benjamin Flores Jr.), Kate (Julia Rehwald), and Simon (Fred Hechinger) find themselves at the center of the latest incarnation of the curse. Their fight for survival leads them to investigate the sole survivor of the 1978 killings at a local camp, Ziggy (Sadie Sink/Gillian Jacobs), and to “time travel” back to the hanging of Sarah Fier in 1666.
The Fear Street movies are at their most fun when they are riffing on the horror movies set in the same time periods. For example, the opening of Fear Street 1994 has a similar vibe to the original Scream movies. Fear Street 1978 is clearly playing on the Friday the 13th movies. Fear Street 1666 diverges in tone from the first two movies and is also surprisingly racy for a movie set among Puritans.
While those moments of playing with the horror genre are the best part of the trilogy, I also enjoyed the development of the core group of friends in the first movie. It’s a shame that they don’t all make it, because the ensemble has fun chemistry. The performances of Fred Hechinger and Julia Rehwald were especially charming. Kiana Madeira’s Deena serves as an anchor for the characters across all three installments, tying the threads of the story together with her rebellious approach to Shadyside and her fervent desire to stay with her girlfriend, Samantha. In contrast, as Samantha Olivia Scott Welch gives a pretty bland performance. It is hard to know how much fault lies with the writing, which sorely under develops most of the characters, but especially hers.
Overall, the Fear Street trilogy is about the quality you could expect from a TV movie. It does not feature stellar performances or great writing, but it is a fun enough diversion, especially for fans of old school slasher movies.
Fear Street Parts I-III were based on the novels by R.L. Stine and directed by Leigh Janiak. Each run about an hour and 45 minutes and are rated R for bloody violence, drug content, language, and some sexual content.
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