The first thing you might think at this time is, “Dude, what the heck? We’ve been on stand by for over a month!” I’m devastatingly sorry for the “hiatus”, and I’ll explain everything at the end of the post. But for now, let’s kick off our movie review, shall we? Basketball is one of the most famed sports on the face of the earth, and I can name a round of players right off the bat: LeBron James, Shaq O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan. And few people may know it, but Shaq was actually in a 1996 fantasy comedy called Kazaam. Needless to say, he was the titular genie. Needless to say, it received horrendous reception and is actually deemed one of the worst movies in history. Later that fall, Michael Jordan decided to try his luck at a crazy movie like Shaq’s. And honestly, throwing Looney Tunes into the mix is crazy enough. Add basketball, baseball, golf, and the physics of the cartoon world, shake vigorously, and you’ve got yourself today’s movie: Space Jam.
Released in November 1996, Space Jam is a live-action/animated family comedy from the director of over 80 Super Bowl commercials, plus music videos for the likes of the Beatles and Michael Jackson. This movie actually marked the debut of Lola Bunny, Bugs’ “female merchandising counterpart”. In simpler language, she’s his girlfriend. The plot of the movie is that space aliens known as Nerdlucks are sent by their nasty boss to capture the celebrated Looney Tunes cohorts for space amusement park attractions. Michael has also thrown in the towel and given up his spot on the Chicago Bulls to pursue a career in–*shiver*–baseball! In this period he meets publicist Stan Podolak, who tries his best to ensure nobody bothers Jordan. It was just one fateful day on the golf course when everything changed. Michael was just posing for a picture, reaching down into the hole to retrieve the ball. That’s when he got sucked into the hole and was transported to the cartoon world. Turns out that Jordan was recruited to whip up the Tunes into sporty shape after they are challenged by the Nerdlucks to an all-or-nothing basketball game. Jordan is reluctant at first, but he seems to be in it to win it after being squeezed into a ball and dribbled up and down the court. And by seeing the Nerdlucks, you’d think that this would be a piece of cake:
Not for long, though. When the Nerdlucks intrude a basketball game disguised as a spectator, they use their powers to harness the bodies of players on the court and make them look bad on purpose. They also steal the ball, too. We later realize that when they touch the ball, it gives them some sort of power that turns them into grotesque beefcakes known as the “Monstars”. Now the tables have turned, haven’t they? But Jordan and the “Toon Squad” have some secret weapons up their sleeve, and the end of the match is nothing but a surprise…80
Don’t get me wrong, Space Jam is a good Looney Tunes movie. Actually, it’s a great Looney Tunes highlight. But it’s actually not a very good real movie. Sloppy crossover animations, a weak script, an uninspired plot, some questionable soundtrack (especially in the showdown), and a lack of faith towards both Jordan and the Tunes makes this probably one of the most…what’s the word? Oh, yeah– disappointing, obscure, and just plain weird movies I’ve ever seen. But that doesn’t stop this movie from becoming a true cult classic in my eyes. It’s no Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but it works well enough for me. In a nutshell, Space Jam is good in the light of Looney Tunes alone, but bad in any other light. Yep, from its messy opening credits all the way to its exceptionally special “That’s all Folks!” call-off. Roll the chart, please. But before we do that, how about we see a clip or two?
1 3/4 out of 5 – Positive messages – The Tunes and Jordan work together in the b-ball showdown to put off their best effort against the Monstars. (Or Nerdlucks, technically. ) Jordan shows perseverance and tries to cheer up his team whenever they are down. And in this case, they are down a lot.
2 out of 5 – Positive role models – The Tunes and Jordan work together in the b-ball showdown to put off their best effort against the Monstars. (Or Nerdlucks, technically. ) Jordan shows perseverance and tries to cheer up his team whenever they are down. And in this case, they are down a lot. (What, I got a little roped up!! ) Bugs pushes Lola out of the way and takes a devastating hit for her, which proves that he has the hots for her and will do anything to protect her.
4 out of 5 – Violence – Lots of pratfall from both live-action and animated characters, but it soon gets out of hand. Stan is on the level above Jordan after his turn at a baseball game, but he falls off. Michael gets sucked into the hole and through to the Tune world kinda gruesomely. Speaking of gruesome, the Nerdlucks transform into Monstars in very grotesque ways. Oh, I also said that Michael gets squeezed into a ball, right? Also, the Monstars seem to easily crush the Tunes during the game…literally. At the bench, the Tunes are in obviously horrendous shape. Elmer’s actually in a straitjacket! The tables turn and the Monstars face various problems: the hoop is covered with explosives that trigger when a Monstar attempts to dunk, creating an explosion that covers the whole screen. Yosemite Sam and Elmer Fudd use guns to shoot the teeth out of a Monstar. The same Monstar tugs Daffy off his face, stretching his skin at uncomfortable lengths. When the skin retracts, his face is in a mangled mess. As I said, Lola is almost crushed by a Monstar, but Bugs takes the hit for her. But all of this is typical Looney Tunes slapstick cartoon violence, meant more for laughs.
1 out of 5 – Inappropriate Content – A Monstar gets his shorts snagged, revealing his butt to the audience. Bugs and Lola share a few steamy kisses. Bugs also kisses Jordan (clean on the lips), to ensure that he is in the Tune world.
3 out of 5 – Product Placement – Big Mac, Gatorade, Nike, Looney Tunes (obviously), etc. Technotronic’s “Pump Up the Jam” can be heard during a select scene in the movie, and you may recognize a few other tunes as well, including “I Believe I Can Fly”.
Smarts: C- (2 pts)
Fun: A- (4 pts)
Humor: A (4 pts)
Entertainment: A+ (5 pts)
Style: A+ (5 pts)
FINAL SCORE: 20 out of 30 (even I’m surprised.), 3 stars out of 5, 59% out of 100%
CONSENSUS: Space Jam may serve well in Looney Tunes terms, but it’s actually an underrated movie with an uninspired plot, a cheesy script, obscure animations, and drab jokes. This sports comedy mishmash could serve kids well, but could leave older audiences less than entertained.
PRICE: On Amazon new copies cost $27, while used ones cost $5. On Amazon Instant Video, you can rent the movie for 2 days for $3. Like what you see? Buy it for $10. Don’t forget the two-disc special edition, though; it costs $18 on average, new ones cost $11, used ones cost $8, and collectibles cost $23. There’s also another 1-disc 2000 version which buys for $6, while new and used copies cost $4 on average. The movie’s OST costs $10; new ones cost $4, used ones go for a penny.
I told you I’d explain this huge break in the schedule. Two words: house rules. Apparently I’m on the web a tad bit too much, so I’ve been adjusted and that’s why we haven’t seen something new for weeks–I haven’t been on the computer half the summer! It’s a new record! I am really, really sorry and will try to make this up to you as best and as soon as possible. Anyway, here’s Sammwak, calling off from Skokie, Illinois! Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, and/or good night, folks.
p.s. Would You Rather o’ the Week: Would you rather be a small guy with large skill, or a large guy with small skill?
p.p.s. Random Video o’ the Week: Over the summer, I’ve become an official Disney XD fan due to shows like Lab Rats, Kickin’ It, Pair of Kings, and Ultimate Spider-Man. This summer’s format? A “Nonstop Summer”. Adam Hicks, a Disney XD veteran (formerly the Luther of Zeke and Luther, now on Pair of Kings), even created/deejayed a song about this Nonstop Summer with the help of fellow deejay Cole Plante. You’ll instantly recognize stars from Lab Rats, Pair of Kings, and Kickin’ It. This upload of the video, as there are many of them, had the most views overall at almost 30,000, with 140 likes and only 4 dislikes. It was released in June this year by somedia, and don’t underestimate the fact that it’s only a minute long; trust me, it’s awesome. (Also check out a “Nonstop Summer” video collection of “we’ll be right backs”, “coming up nexts”, and “you’re watchings”! )