Flashback Review: Space Jam

In The 90’s sneaker company Nike came up with a marketing campaign to promote a brand called “Air Jordan” as a sponsorship for Chicago Bulls basketball player Michael Jordan. In order to get the consumers their attention to buy the sneakers. Nike met Warner Bros. (WB for short) to allow the company to use the Looney Tunes so they can gain revenue. I bet WB thought it was a good idea to allow Nike to use the Looney Tunes as a way to introduce a new generation of fans to Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Marvin The Martian, Sylvester & Tweety, Foghorn Leghorn, Tasmanian Devil, Yosemite Sam & Elmer Fudd. The campaign became a massive success, as a result of gaining a truckload of cash, WB decided to develop a film based on the commercials, what do we get, “Space Jam.”

Space Jam was released in 1996. It received mixed reviews from critics. Despite mixed reception, it made a profit at the box office. Doug Walker/Nostalgia Critic did a review on it, he didn’t like it alongside Chuck Jones who disowned the film. “OUCH!”

Now that Kyrie Irving’s film Uncle Drew is out in theaters which is also based on a marketing campaign related to basketball. I would like to share the pros n’ cons surrounding Space Jam. Plus, a sequel is still under development with LeBron James taking over Michael Jordan’s role. Rumors speculate that Justin Lin might direct Space Jam 2. The sole reason why I want to review Space Jam, is because Uncle Drew has a similar premise minus Looney Tunes but with actual former basketball players covered in prosthetic makeup.

The following review doesn’t have any big fat SPOILERS whatsoever. If you’ve never seen Space Jam, feel free to read this article.

Winners & Losers

Winners: Michael Jordan did a good job for his performance. Space Jam marks the only film in his acting career other than his cameo in Looney Tunes: Back In Action.

Veteran voice actors such as Billy West all did a great job for their respective performances. If Mel Blanc were alive today, he would’ve liked to see and wished his successors the best of luck.

Danny DeVito provides the voice of Mr. Swackhammer, who’s the bad guy responsible for his henchmen to become The Monstars.

Other NBA players including Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Shawn Bradley, Muggsy Bogues & Larry Johnson have pivotal roles linked to The Monstars.

Bill Murray makes an appearance as himself.

Funny Moments retain the spirit of Looney Tunes humor.

Animation looked very gorgeous, bringing familiar iconic Looney Tunes characters to life.

James Newton Howard orchestrated the music.

R. Kelly’s signature song, “I believe I Can Fly” is used as the theme song. Why didn’t this song become an eligible nominee at The Oscars for “Best Original Song?” Oh that’s right his relationship with Aaliyah raised a bunch of gasps.

The film makes fun of Michael Jordan’s short lived career as a baseball player.

Bugs, Daffy & the rest of the Looney Tunes often “Break The Fourth Wall.”

Bugs Bunny is credited during the opening credits montage. I can already picture Daffy glancing at the camera saying “How despicable, he gets second billing but I don’t!”

Various TV screens depicts actual Looney Tunes cartoons, (minus banned shorts) meaning every single short and the film are considered canon. 

Elmer Fudd & Yosemite Sam made a reference to one of my favorite director’s films that won an Oscar.

Mel Blanc’s voice as Daffy is heard for just a few seconds. Even though he’s no longer around, this is the closest thing for a voice cameo.

Then newcomer, Lola Bunny makes her debut as Bugs Bunny’s love interest. Her personality is very different prior to Cartoon Network transforming her into a crazed stalker.

A character did a jab on Mickey Mouse. As we all know, Disney owns Mickey Mouse & Warner Bros. owns Bugs Bunny. Both movie studios tend to poke fun at each other’s works.

Wayne Knight’s character Stan, mentioned various products in one line. Michael actually sponsor for Wheaties, Nike, Gatorade etc.

The WB logo is shown and one of the characters addressed that they’re aware that movie studio owns them.

A fart scene was used to address a special ability on why the Looney Tunes are capable of cheating death. They even confirmed that in their world they can randomly use a variety of abilities.

An Acme product is shown, courtesy of the Looney Tunes trademark. Wile E. Coyote is a frequent buyer for purchasing explosive weapons.

One character mentioned Star Trek. Star Trek: First Contact came out around the same time as Space Jam.

Dan Castellaneta (voice of Homer Simpson) & Patricia Heaton (Debra from Everybody Loves Raymond) make cameo appearances.

Losers: Cinematography constantly uses so many extreme close-ups. Is it me or is the cinematographer also responsible for way too many extreme close-ups in Les Miserables? Seriously! Do we really need to see Bill Murray’s pockmarks in camera?!

The film is obviously dated, it takes place after Michael’s short-lived retirement prior to his permanent retirement in real life and becoming a billionaire.

An early romance felt unnecessary. Guess who I’ve mentioned which Looney Toon is a love interest. And I thought Pepe Le Pew gets a girl in one minute or less.

A Deus Ex Machina is used during The Climax. It’s never been explained. I’ll give it a pass that a film producer took “Deus Ex Machina.” I would assume that it might’ve been Goku (from Dragon Ball Z) who used instant transmission to teleport for a few seconds. Anything can happen if something is related to cartoons or anime.

The Final Verdict: B, FOR BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE!

Space Jam is an unforgettable live action/animated hybrid film that won’t make you easily bored. As a kid it was one of my favorite animated films, I have to admit the film introduce me to Looney Tunes. As an adult, it still holds up well despite being dated. If you have nothing else to do or planning on seeing Uncle Drew, go ahead and give it a watch.

I hope Space Jam 2 is officially green-lit, the producers & animators better get their butts back into making this long awaited sequel to one of my childhood movies.

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