SPACE JAM (1996)

PrintE-mail Written by Ryan Pollard

The Looney Tunes are among some of the best cartoon characters of all time, standing alongside the likes of Disney and their line-up of classic characters. Also, Michael Jordan is one of the greatest basketball players of the 1990's, and basketball is a universally adored sport. Combining both of them together, however, is like the equivalent of mixing matter with anti-matter, resulting in one epic catastrophe, which this movie sadly is. Granted, there are some audiences out there who still enjoy it for what it is, but to this reviewer, though, it does both the Looney Tunes and Michael Jordan with basketball a huge, massive disservice.

Starting out life as a short Nike commercial, Warner Bros. decided (for some reason) to turn that into a feature-length film, and watching the movie, you can tell this is just one long commercial to advertise products rather than trying to actually be a film. Regardless of what everyone thought of Looney Tunes: Back in Action, at least that was a massive improvement and actually cared about being a film. This feels very much like a product that was made by committee, built and structured to make sure it aimed at certain demographics. Being the product that it is, there is no sign of a comprehensible story whatsoever with Michael Jordan’s story being so dull, boring and woodenly-acted, it makes you want to go back to the Looney Tunes aspect of the story.

Aaaaaaand then you get into the Looney Tunes aspect and, surprisingly, even they aren’t funny in the slightest. It’s like as if the four writers involved haven’t researched or watched these characters before, and as a result, the characters come off as pale imitations of their original counterparts. If this were actually Looney Tunes, Bugs Bunny would’ve easily outsmarted the aliens (regardless of how big or small they are) in a few minutes flat and then go back to taking care of Elmer Fudd or Yosemite Sam. Even Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies legend Chuck Jones was bitterly disappointed with how the film turned out. True, the animation is incredible and the voice acting is spot-on, but that’s not enough to help salvage this film. Another major problem is the fact that the film occasionally devolves into extreme close-up shots with weird camera angles. Is this supposed to be avant-garde filmmaking or are they deliberately trying to invade our personal space? Oh, and the soundtrack is just abominable.

Space Jam is really a product of its time, but that just only shows how badly dated it is. There’s no form of narrative in sight, the live-action segments and actors are lifeless, the Looney Tunes themselves are surprisingly lacklustre, but most of all, it feels like an extended commercial that we didn’t ask for. The fact that both Bill Murray and Wayne Knight aren’t actually that funny in the film shows just how badly things have turned out. If you want a solid movie that combines live action with the Looney Tunes then check out the underrated Back in Action, which wasn’t perfect but was a hell of a lot better than this thing. Oh, and the fact that Warner Bros. is still trying to get a sequel of the ground is absolutely mind-boggling.

SPACE JAM (1996) / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: JOE PYTKA / SCREENPLAY: LEO BENVENUTI, STEVE RUDNICK, TIMOTHY HARRIS, HERSCHEL WEINGROD / STARRING: MICHAEL JORDAN, WAYNE KNIGHT, LARRY BIRD, BILL MURRAY / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

 


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