Space Jam (1996)   3/53/53/53/53/5


Daffy Duck and Michael Jordan in Space Jam (1996)

Looney Tunes take the Michael

To put it simply "Space Jam" could have been about a preserve manufacturing factory on the planet Zorg and it would have still been good for the simple reason that it's the Looney Tune crew, Bugs, Daffy, P-P-P-Porky Pig and all your favourites bringing their wacky antics to the big screen. It's not about a preserve manufacturing factory, in fact "Space Jam" is about transferring the popularity of Michael Jordan the sports star into a movie star with a cartoon comedy about basketball, what else. But it is the comedy of the Looney Tune's which makes "Space Jam" so much fun rather than the charisma of Michael Jordan.

With his amusement park on Moron Mountain struggling, Swackhammer decides he needs new attractions and those attractions will be Bugs Bunny and his Looney Tune friends. Sending down his little minions, the Nerdlucks, to bring back the Looney Tune crew they find themselves being duped into playing a game of basketball. Whilst the Nerdlucks steal the power from several NBA basketball stars so that they can win, Bugs Bunny and his friends get the help of Michael Jordan who having retired from playing Basketball is trying his hand as a baseball star.

Bill Murray, Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan in Space Jam (1996)

The most important thing about "Space Jam" is that it's fun, from the opening series of homage playing clips as we are given a brief history of Michael Jordan's career through to the credits, there's never a scene which ends up dull. And you really expect nothing else from a Looney Tune movie which is why it doesn't matter that the storyline is slim, simple and stupid. In fact it's amusingly stupid as we follow Michael Jordan's attempts to play baseball following retirement from basketball and then into the world of the Looney Tunes where they persuade him to help them out against a bunch of Nerdlucks from Moron Mountain.

But the thing is that whilst stupid "Space Jam" is also comically clever, the various interactions between all the Looney Tunes and Michael Jordan are all good fun, a little obvious but amusing. But then you get the minor points such as the basketball star that has lost his skill on the psychiatrist couch, his legs over hanging the end because he is so tall. It's these little things, the occasional double entendre and visual gag which makes "Space Jam" amusing for young and old alike.

What is also amusing in a cynical way is the treatment of Michael Jordan. Now it's plainly obvious that "Space Jam" was the tester to see if Michael Jordan could make it as an actor at the same time as capitalizing on his popularity. The thing is that whilst Jordan's charisma comes over as a really good, wholesome guy his acting is certainly not as good as his basketball playing. And this is not helped by the sort of reverence he is held in as you would expect him to take a few comical beatings, be the butt of various Looney Tune jokes but those moments of comedy are lame. It all feels like whilst happy to have some fun, Jordan wasn't really happy to have his public image made fun off.

Whilst "Space Jam" is very much about Michael Jordan it is the supporting stars which end up delivering the comedy. Wayne Knight is amusing as Michaels annoying assistant Stan Podolak, fussing about and being overly nice all the time. And Bill Murray is as reliable as ever playing himself as a buddy of Michael's delivering some of the funniest moments including playing golf with an umbrella hat, intentionally daft and intentionallyfunny.

What this all boils down to is that "Space Jam" is simply a good fun movie. It may appear like it's an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of Michael Jordan whilst launching a movie career but it is the cartoon characters which make it work along with the clever writing. And that is the best thing as whilst there is plenty which will amuse young audiences there is just as much to entertain older audiences as well.


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