Ok, so two “kid-friendly” movies in a row, but this one may be more of an adult drinking game…
Space Jam is an utterly zany movie, much like the Warner Bros. cartoons they represent. In it, Michael Jordan has to help the friendly toons of Warner Bros. Land win a basketball game so that they aren’t captured by aliens from Moron Mountain.
And for the aliens to win, they steal the talent from five big basketball stars from that era: Patrick Ewing, Muggsy Bogues, Charles Barkley, Shawn Bradley, and Larry Johnson. With these skills, the Nerdlucks (I had no idea either) turn into Monstars.
Yes, so in the end the Looney Tunes beat the Monstars and are NOT slaves to the alien Mr. Swackhammer (voiced by Danny Devito).
Wait, is he wearing sandals?!
Ok, so I wanted to skip the plot of the movie, because any of these are true:
- You’ve seen the movie
- You don’t care
- I get bored
Actually, I’m sure all of those are true.
Space Jam took the floundering Looney Tunes characters kept the ball in the air (wrong sport metaphor). And yes, earlier in the 90s Steven Spielberg brought the Tiny Toons in the fold and helped carry the team, but this film sure did… something.
The insane part of this film wasn’t really the premise (which we’ll get to in a moment), but it was the sheer talent involved in the film.
Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters) produced it. The aforementioned basketball stars (including Larry Bird). Wayne Knight (Newman/Dennis Nedry). Some of the best in today’s voice actors playing the roles they studied as kids: Billy West (Fry and Prof. Farnsworth Futurama and Stimpy); Dee Bradley Baker, Maurice Lamarche, Kath Soucie, Bill Farmer, and one of the O.G. pros– June Foray to name a few.
And Bill FREAKING MURRAY.
Where/ when did I first see it?
I saw this movie in my last year of only watching home video: 1997. This was the year that I heavily started going to the movie theater, Plourde Century Theatre in town. This was one of those box-boxed VHS tapes that I persuaded my Dad to buy us (thanks again Nickelodeon for the ads, my Dad’s wallet thanks you).
How does it hold up?
Not well. But seriously, Space Jam is a silly ride into the world of both the NBA and Looney Tunes. Michael Jordan plays basketball with cartoons. The special effects are God awful, especially when he’s rolled up like a ball by the Monstars and or when Wayne Knight is flattened then inflated by the Tunes only to sputter around the gym like an untied balloon.
Not to mention the gross goo special effects. Haunting.
The jokes are cheesy, and there is little left to enjoy for parents who watch with their children, except basketball fans. And speaking of basketball, the stars featured, some of them aren’t as well remembered as the others. The once stars can only be celebrated properly in hindsight due to their zeitgeist status. Sure, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan made it out okay (and to a lesser extent Charles Barkley), but the others have fallen to the wayside.
Again, that is if you aren’t already a basketball fan.
Then again, I do remember a few blue jokes. At one point Daffy comes in with a towel, “It’s getting so a guy can’t get wet over here.”
Also when Bugs (and we) see Lola for the first time, he hardens up like a wooden plank (like us) complete with sound effects and all.
And finally, when they Tunes show Michael their facility, Daffy ends on the line: “We’ve got balls!” To which Michael replies: “Sure do, this place is a mess.”
What did I like about it and why?
Okay, so here is where we get into this insane plot. I know more about it than I do now, but the idea of this story was to pull from the real world and show an alternate take on what happened to Michael Jordan as he retired from basketball in 1993, only to play for the baseball team, the Chicago White Son, only to return in 1995.
What’s more is that this film also takes from other real-world instances:
- Michael Jordan’s ads with Bugs Bunny playing basketball against Marvin the Martian
- The product placement line from Stanley (Wayne Knight)
- Commercials Bill Murray trying to play in the NBA
I’m telling you, meta-humor is one of my all-time favorites. Read that product line from Stanley: “C’mon, Michael! It’s game time! Get your Hanes on, lace up your Nikes, grab your Wheaties and your Gatorade, and we’ll pick up a Big Mac on the way to the Ballpark.”
All of those were then current ads in which he was featured. Pretty wild, huh?
Besides what holds up, the film did have a little nostalgia going for it. I didn’t watch this movie as much as I did others in this series, but the little that remains is enough to be noticeable.
The biggest thing that came out of watching Space Jam as a child was that I actually began to watch basketball after. A fat kid who never played sports once began to watch one regularly after watching Michael Jordan play basketball with Daffy and Bugs.
I won’t say that I went overboard with it. It’s pretty much how I watch football now: sparingly and without any team preference. But I did like picking out the real world basketball stars of the film in their respective teams.
Oh and I suppose NBA Jam (no relation) prior to this moment made it easier to watch the sport.
The soundtrack was actually pretty dope. It was my first experience with a Steve Miller Band song, and eventually led to me buying their albums. Thanks, Seal!
And I must mention how incredibly bad Charles’ Barkley’s acting was when he lost his powers. I about lost it when revisiting the movie.
- Michael Jordan was a God in basketball.
- Bugs Bunny was a God in animation. Heck all Looney Tunes are. Seriously, none of them could die, they’re everywhere and they’ll live forever.
- Bill Murray winds up in the most random roles sometimes (See: Garfield).
Where can you see it?
Check out Space Jam on CanIStream.It?
Bonus! Here’s the now infamous website.