We Should Bench LeBron James from Comedy
Calm down, LeBron apologists. Just because your guy could be basketball’s GOAT doesn’t mean he has to be the FOAT (Funniest of All Time) or anywhere close to it. So why does Hollywood keep giving the guy chance to prove he’s not even a junior-varsity comedian? As an actor and a producer, the guy keeps launching comedy airballs, including this week’s House Party reboot.
Let's go to the tape and check out the movie’s trailer, with the Los Angeles Laker adding “hilarity” by showing up as a grinning hologram.
It’s LeBron giving himself some creepy Lebron love, calling himself “one handsome motherfucker” and patting his own back for handling the signing-with-the-Miami-Heat situation perfectly. (Does anyone outside of serious hoop-heads remember what that brouhaha was all about?) But it gets worse. He’s remade the beloved Kid ‘n Play 1990 comedy (a classic listed in the National Film Registry) into a hot mess, currently running at a putrid 19% on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Deeply unfunny,” raves The Los Angeles Times. “(LeBron’s) House Party is one to skip,” recommends The Guardian. Could there have been something funny about a couple of idiots throwing a party at LeBron’s house? Maybe if they could have poked fun at the King. But as The Wrap wisely notes, “perhaps letting LeBron James produce the film, setting it at his house, and giving him a cameo wasn’t exactly a formula conducive to criticizing LeBron James or his close network of friends.”
It sounds like it couldn’t get any worse for aspiring comedy mogul LeBron, but AV Club’s Luke Thompson believes it can: “House Party is a definite improvement over Space Jam: A New Legacy.” Whoomp, there it is.
Look, Michael Jordan was no comedian either. The key is, he knew it. In the original Space Jam, Jordan let Bill Murray and Wayne Knight do the heavy laff-lifting, with the good sense to make fun of his own failed baseball career. LeBron tries for more in Space Jam: A New Legacy and clanks one off the glass. It’s a movie “full of jokes but almost bereft of humor,” says The New Yorker. “Here's the thing about basketball: It is extremely watchable,” says Entertainment Weekly. “Here's the thing about Space Jam: A New Legacy: It's not.”
It even fails to work as a commercial for better, funnier Warner Bros. IP. In the right hands, Bugs Bunny is hysterical. But with LeBron as his straight man, what hope does the hare have?
In Space Jam: A New Legacy, LeBron jokes that athletes acting rarely goes well. Now we know that goes for athletes producing comedies as well. The Hollywood Reporter nicely sums up the lesson of House Party and Space Jam: A New Legacy. As a comic and producer, James makes a great basketball player.