Though it is not, as yet, a sure thing, the Internet was abuzz yesterday with speculation that LeBron James would be making a Space Jam sequel, thanks to reports that (a) he signed a production deal with Warner Bros., (b) WB renewed the relevant trademarks and (c) LeBron once Tweeted that he’d like to make Space Jam 2.
It’s a terrible idea for many reasons, primarily in that Space Jam was based on sneaker commercials and it was really, really bad. And I’m not just saying it because when I saw it, the theater played “Fly Like an Eagle” on a constant loop before the feature started. Duh duh duh-duhhh!
Now, if you must start remaking bad movies from the ’90s starring athletes, I have a few thoughts. First, pick ones that are actually fun-bad….
1. Stone Cold (1991)
The Athlete: Seattle Seahawks linebacker Brian Bosworth.
The Premise: Back when Steve Austin was still merely stunning, Bosworth was playing Joe Huff, an undercover cop who plays by his own rules. Sent undercover to infiltrate a racist biker gang, he finds himself at odds with Lance Henriksen, who ultimately sends his gang to attack the Mississippi Supreme Court. Huff delivers justice…AT GUNPOINT!
How to Reboot: Bosworth is still acting in commercials, so let’s bring him back. Steve Austin is now also acting, so hire him as the villain and the new face of the Brotherhood, and the title Stone Cold 2 will have a double-meaning. Because nobody’s going to give this movie a budget big enough to shoot in Washington DC and have them storm the real Supreme Court, we’ll set it in Louisiana for the tax breaks, and as a bonus have the bad guy be into voodoo too.
2. Firestorm (1998)
The Athlete: L.A./Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Howie Long.
The Premise: Long is Jesse Graves, a fireman who parachutes into a series of forest fires to fight the evil arsonists who have escaped from prison and are looking for buried treasure in the woods, as you do. William Forsythe, who was also in Stone Cold, is the main villain whose face ultimately gets burned to ashes by Long.
How to Reboot: Instead of Howie Long vs. arsonists, make it Tim Tebow vs. Satanists. You’d watch.
3. Suburban Commando (1991)
The Athlete: Hulk Hogan.
(I really wanted to put No Holds Barred on here instead, but it’s from the ’80s)
The Premise: Hogan plays an alien warrior named Shep Ramsey, who hides out on Earth by renting a room from Christopher Lloyd. In a role he filmed before becoming The Undertaker, Mark Calaway is one of the alien bounty hunters sent after him, and the butt of a toilet joke. Like the real Hogan, Ramsey is somewhat clueless as to how regular humans think and behave. We are clueless as to how anyone persuaded Lloyd, Shelley Duvall and Larry Miller to costar in this.
How to Reboot: Today’s wrestlers are too self-aware to play it with quite the natural obliviousness Hogan did, so I’d substitute Mike Tyson instead, as his Mike Tyson Mysteries cartoon has made great use of his ability to play a total moron. Lewis Black would have to take over the Christopher Lloyd role – can’t you already hear him yelling “I was frozen today!”? Ryback might work for the Calaway part, and that annoying mime would have to be replaced by a David Blaine “street magician” type. Throw in enough jokes about not understanding Twitter and hashtags, and you’ve got yourself a Hollywood pitch.
4. Steel (1997)
The Athlete: Basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal.
The Premise: In a really, REALLY loose adaptation of the character from the Superman family of comics, Shaq plays John Henry Irons, a brilliant inventor of high-tech weapons who must don a metal suit and stop them being sold in the inner city by an old military rival (Judd Nelson). Jokes about Shaft and MC Hammer abound.
How to Reboot: It’s a DC Comics property, so: with a whole lot of angst and too many extra characters. Give former NFL player Terry Crews the lead role,as he’s long overdue for superhero duty, then watch some “visionary” director of commercials fuck it all up in brand new ways by trying to cram the entire “Reign of the Supermen” story arc in one movie. By the time they’re done, you might miss Shaq.
5. Kazaam (1996)
The Athlete: Shaq again.
The Premise: A rappin’, rhymin’ genie, who doesn’t look especially Middle-Eastern, emerges from a boombox to yell at kids, grant wishes, and totally fails to save the main kid till he gets a Mulligan at the end.
How to Reboot: The thing is…
What is called for here is not a reboot, but…
The movie they should have made originally anyway…
Giant, completely indestructible genie. Flying camel that grunts like Scooby-Doo. Dorky retro teenagers with a magic ring. And a Hanna-Barbera pedigree!
As long as Shaq can convincingly say “Ho HO!,” he can even come back and star again.
6. Nemesis (1992)
The Athlete: Middleweight kickboxing world champion Olivier Gruner.
The Premise: When a Masters of the Universe movie sequel fell through, it was converted into Cyborg. When a Cyborg sequel initially fell through, director Albert Pyun made Nemesis, and replaced Jean-Claude Van Damme with a lead actor whose kicking skills (and relative lack of acting chops) matched Mr. Muscles From Brussels pretty well. Nemesis actually got three sequels, probably because any movie where the hero has a martial arts fight with a stop-motion stick-figure with a skull deserves one.
How to Reboot: Van Damme’s dull-but-ass-kicking protegee Scott Adkins is the obvious choice to take the Nemesis franchise into the future. Nobody does stop-motion any more, but as long as the CG is, like, original Power Rangers-movie bad, we’re in business.
7. Double Team (1997)
The Athlete: NBA power-forward and flamboyant dresser Dennis Rodman.
The Premise: While many of our athletes on this list have had hilariously fake “manly” names, Rodman’s character in Double Team is simply named Yaz, possibly because his silver muscle shirts say more than any name could, or because they saved the hilarious name for Jean-Claude Van Damme, who goes by “Jack Paul Quinn,” because he’s so believably Irish, right? A multiple Razzie award-winner by the normally acclaimed Hong Kong director Tsui Hark, it somehow all builds to a battle in the Roman Colosseum, in which Rodman and Van Damme fight Mickey Rourke and a tiger, which seems totally fair.
How to Reboot: Have Rodman’s new BFF, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, fund the movie, casting himself in the Van Damme role. It’ll be like The Interview, only real. And instead of Mickey Rourke and a tiger, they can face Barack Obama (played by some Korean solider in blackface) and a unicorn (because those totally exist in North Korea, according to North Korea).
Luke Y. Thompson has been writing professionally about movies and pop-culture since 1999, and has also been an actor in some extremely cheap culty and horror movies you will probably never hear much about (he is nonetheless mostly proud of them, as he met his wife on one). As editor of The Robot's Voice since 2012, he can take the blame for the majority of the site's content, all of which he creates because he loves you very, very much. (Although he loves nachos more. Sorry.)
Prior to TRV, Luke wrote for publications that include the New Times LA, Los Angeles CityBeat, E! Online, OC Weekly, Geekweek, GeekChicDaily, The L.A. Times, The Village Voice, LA Weekly, and Nerdist