Sorry movie fans, according to critics, it turns out that Space Jam: A New Legacy is a shallow cesspool of commercialism, unlike the original Space Jam, which was … a shallow cesspool of commercialism that occasionally featured Bill Murray. We’re not here to lament the artistic degradation of a franchise that began with a literal shoe commercial, but one moment in the new movie is particularly confounding.

The entirety of Space Jam: A New Legacy is an embarrassingly sweaty advertisement for Warner Brothers’ streaming service HBO Max, somehow even more so than those promotional DC comic books about a magical dog named Max. We’d like to tell you that there’s not a scene in which Foghorn Leghorn rides a dragon while dressed as Daenerys Targaryen, but … sadly, we can’t do that.

Most insane is the climactic basketball game, which is played in front of a crowd of characters from Warner’s stable of intellectual properties, some of which kind of make sense, like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, Batman, The Mask. Some, though, are oddly inappropriate for a family movie, like Pennywise the murder-clown and Alex and his Droogs from A Clockwork Orange. When the trailer first hit the internet, cinephiles were quick to notice one particularly odd inclusion; one of the nuns from Ken Russell’s controversial 1971 film The Devils.

And now that the movie is out, there she is clear as day, hanging out next to the Batman and Robin version of Mr. Freeze in the craziest pop-culture crossover since Slimer and Winnie the Pooh teamed up to shame a teenager for trying pot.

Warner Bros.

Which is nuts for more than a few reasons. For one thing, this is a goddamn Space Jam movie we’re talking about. Sure, the original made reference to Pulp Fiction, which isn’t exactly kid-friendly, but The Devils is a whole other tier of shock. It was rated X in the US for its graphic violence, including torture, and loads of sexual content, much of which was allegedly blasphemous because of its focus on the hypocrisy of the Catholic church. When The Devils was released it “inspired waves of protests across the world” and was censored and banned in several countries. To describe what said nuns do in this movie would make even cartoon sex criminal Pepe Le Pew’s head spin. 

Warner Bros.

This is extra-frustrating for movie fans because, while A New Legacy is one long commercial for HBO Max, The Devils is nowhere to be found on the app. Not only is it not available to stream, but Warner Brothers also refuses to release it on home video at all. It once showed up on iTunes and was yanked down just three days later. This isn’t a totally forgotten topic of conversation within Warner Brothers, either; according to director and critic Joe Dante, The Devils is basically their Song of the SouthAllegedly, executives refuse to release the film out of fears of incurring the “wrath of the religious right.”

So someone involved in the production of this Looney Tunes-fronted commercial for Warner Brothers home video was somehow able to slip in a reference to the one movie Warner Brothers won’t ever release on home video -- which is either admirably subversive or incredibly infuriating. Incidentally, in 2017 The Devils was made available to stream on the horror service Shudder -- but sadly, Shudder has yet to scrape together enough capital to make their own self-aggrandizing cartoon seizure factory of a movie.

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter! And check out the podcast Rewatchability.

Top Image: Warner Bros.

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