Director: Joe Pytka
Writers: Leo Benvenuti, Steve Rudnick, Timothy Harris, Herschel Weingrod
Cast: Michael Jordan, Wayne Knight, Theresa Randle, Manner Washington, Eric Gordon, Penny Bae Bridges, Brandon Hammond, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, Thom Barry, Bill Murray, Charles Barkley, Muggsy Bogues, Ahmad Rashad, Bill Walton, Danny Ainge, Del Harris, Vlade Divac, Cedric Ceballos, Jim Rome, Paul Westphal, Dan Castellaneta, Shawn Bradley
Voice Cast: Billy West, Dee Bradley Baker, Danny DeVito, Bob Bergen, Bill Farmer, June Foray, Maurice LaMarche, Kath Soucie, Jocelyn Blue, Charity James, June Melby, Catherine Reitman, Colleen Wainwright, Dorian Harewood, Joey Camon, T.K. Carter, Darnell Suttles, Steve Kehella, Frank Welker, Mel Blanc
Synopsis: Michael Jordan agrees to help the Looney Toons play a basketball game vs. alien slavers to determine their freedom.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some mild cartoon language
One of the original Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny commercials
I Believe I Can Fly By R. Kelly
Isn't it funny how some films aren't as great as we remember them?
To all my readers out there, I have a huge confession to make. Back when this movie came out, I not only loved every minute of it, but I actually used to consider this to be arguably one of the best films ever made. Why you may ask? Well when this movie came out, I was sixteen years old at the time, and I used to literally love basketball. Not only did I used to watch every single game, but I was a huge Chicago Bulls fan back in the day. Mainly because of Michael Jordan. Growing up as a child, I used to look up to Jordan as something of a role model if you will, as I used to love watching him play. Not only did he have a competitive streak that was vastly unmatched, but his work ethic to overcome various odds and doubters was always a very admirable trait.
Plus, when I was a child, I grew up watching a lot of Looney Tune cartoons as well, and I was a huge fan of the hit TV show, "Seinfeld", at the time too; thus having Wayne Knight in the movie certainly did help out a lot. You add those things together, and it's fairly easy to understand why I loved this film as a child. Granted, there are some films we love watching as children, and still enjoy as adults. However, for every film that stands the test of time, there's a few films that tend to make us wonder......what the hell was I was thinking?!? Unfortunately, "Space Jam" falls under the latter of the two. Don't get me wrong, it's fairly decent for what it tries to be, and it definitely has it's moments too. But would I say this is one of the best family movies that I've seen? Or say it definitely meets up with the hype that it got back in the day? Certainly not. If anything, I'd probably have to argue that "Space Jam" is one of the most over rated family films of all time.
Although, I know most critics would bash this film for it's obvious commercialism that it shoves in audiences' faces in place of an actual story, but we have to consider the source the material of this film. Unlike other great family films, "Space Jam" didn't have a great source material to base itself on, as the movie is loosely based on the old Nike commercials that Michael Jordan did back in the nineties; where we'd see him promoting his latest sneakers alongside various Looney Tunes like Bugs Bunny and others. .Sure, we can try to hold it up to the standard of a film like the "Lion King" if we want, but we have to keep in mind that "Lion King" had a strong source material to work from. It drew from a lot of great influences such as "Kimba the White Lion", Shakespeare's "Hamlet", and "Bambi"; thus it's expected that "Lion King" would turn out to be the epic masterpiece that it did. Whereas "Space Jam", the whole concept was based around commercialism to begin with, so it's hard to expect much from it.
As for the story of this movie (I use the term loosely) , it essentially follows Michael Jordan after he retires from the NBA in the mid nineties, when his father died. From this point, he tries his hand at becoming a Major League Baseball player, but struggles miserably to adapt in the Minor Leagues. Wayne Knight plays the gullible and annoying suck up named Stan, who's been assigned to make Mr. Jordan's life easier while playing for the Chicago Barrons (the minor league team for the White Sox).
Meanwhile, on a distant planet far away, there lies an amusement park called "Moron Mountain" that's ran by a ruthless cutthroat businessman named Swackhammer (Danny DeVito). After seeing a video of one of the customers being bored at his theme park, he decides to order his hapless stooges to find a new attraction. However, what could this new attraction be? To make a long story short, Swackhammer inevitably decides to kidnap the Looney Tune characters for their park. Fortunately, the stooges that he sends, from "Moron Mountain", certainly live up to their names, as they're rather...for lack of a better term..STUPID; which allows Bugs Bunny to come up with a fool proof plan to trick the aliens. What does Bugs Bunny have up his sleeve you ask? Well considering these aliens are only about four to five inches tall, Bugs figures that he can easily beat these aliens along with his friends in a game of basketball. The aliens accept the challenge, but what the Looney Tunes fail to realize is that the aliens aren't planning to play fair. Without the Looney Tunes knowledge, the aliens go to the NBA games on Earth, and steal the talent from some of the game's best players. Once the aliens steal the talent from some of the NBA's top players, they grow into becoming seven to ten foot giants that scare the living p*** out of Porky Pig on sight. It's from here that Bugs goes out to recruit Michael Jordan to help them win against the newly formed Monstars. Reluctant at first, Michael inevitably accepts Bugs Bunny's invitation, as they even manage to recruit another new character named Lola Bunny (no relation to Bugs). And without giving too much away, that's basically the entire film's story in a nutshell.
As I stated before, I used to love this film a lot as a child simply because I was such a huge fan of Michael Jordan back in the day. However, looking at this film now as an adult, I can clearly tell that my fan worship of the man clouded my judgment of this film at the time. Not only is the story rather weak, but the Looney Tune characters in this movie aren't that funny. No, I think the word annoying would be more of the proper wording for it. Hell, I got more chuckles from watching the NBA players trying to get their talents back more so than I got from the Looney Tunes in this movie, and that's kind of sad.
Although to be fair, I did like some of the breaking the fourth wall jokes in this movie, and I thought Bill Murray was hilarious in this as well. Unfortunately, the rest of film tends to fall flat on it's face to impress me. Not only is the animation inconsistent at times, where it's obvious Michael Jordan was playing basketball with CGI characters created around him half the time, but it doesn't help when the story focuses on a person that isn't that great of an actor. I do apologize to Michael Jordan if he's reading this (I doubt it, but still). However, as I've said in previous articles, I make it a point to never ignore the painfully obvious; which sadly means that I can't ignore the fact that Michael Jordan is a lousy actor. Great basketball player, and arguably the greatest that ever played in the NBA. But as an actor? I don't think so...
As for story, it's pretty much what you'd expect. It's predictable and cliched ridden to where you'd have to be absolute imbecile not to tell how this movie will end. However, one point that I'd like to cite before giving out my final rating for this movie, it's that I didn't really care much for Lola Bunny.
Don't get me wrong, it's nothing against her personally, but her character wasn't really developed. For one, it's obvious she was designed primarily for sex appeal, as she walks around in skimpy clothing half the time. But to make matters worse, it seems her only purpose, besides acting as a sex symbol (in a kid's film mind you), was to become Bugs Bunny's girlfriend.
At the time, many talk shows speculated about Bugs' sexuality considering that he was always putting on women's clothing to trick his enemies; while never having a steady girlfriend that most die hard fans could recall. Needless to say, Warner Bros. designed Lola to not only to act as a weird sex symbol (in a kid's film), but she was designed to prove that Bugs Bunny wasn't a homosexual. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but just stating an observation. Besides, this wouldn't be the first time something like this has happened. Back in the fifties, many people questioned Batman's alleged sexuality, due to a controversial graphic novel entitled "Seduction of the Innocent." Needless to say, D.C. Comics introduced Bat Woman to become Batman's new girlfriend, and to prove Batman's heterosexuality at the time. Of course, the irony of it all is that eventually D.C. writers recreated her character to become a lesbian in recent issues. Gee, isn't it ironic that the character designed to prove that Batman was straight turned out to be a lesbian herself? What are the odds? Anyone want to take a guess if that same fate awaits Lola Bunny down the road? Who knows? Only time will tell.
Overall, I wouldn't say this is a bad movie by any means, but it's certainly not as great as the hype it got at the time. In the end, I'd have to say that this film is okay at best. Sure, if you had asked me to rate this movie back when I was sixteen, I probably would've given this a higher rating. However, as my tastes have evolved over time, I'd have to reduce that rating down to a two out of four instead. It's definitely worth checking out if you want to watch a decent film with your family, but I just wouldn't expect too much out of this.