Brace yourselves, dear readers…I’ve never watched this film prior to the Blu-ray release.
The world’s greatest legends collide in a future universe with Jordan as a live-action hero entering a spectacular animated world. Captured by Bugs Bunny to foil a ghastly gang of space creatures, Jordan must play the basketball game of his life to save the beloved cartoon heroes from a hideous kidnapping scheme.
So, my question here is, do you think Warner Bros. knew this was going to be an iconic hit for decades to come? It’s amazing how long this movie has survived and how many children growing up in the late 90s to early 2000s idolized this film and made it obtain a Citizen Kane-like status forever. Sure it’s never going to make it to AFI’s top 100 list, but some strange reason I’m certain this film is going to survive the test of time, even after Durant and the Warriors win 10 championships (kidding, kidding…gonna be the Cavs).
Anyway, having never seen this film in action, merely just hummed the words of the ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ song that came with it from R Kelly for a good portion of my adult life, I can see Space Jam’s appeal after my first viewing. The amount of dedicated stars that made this work, including Wayne Knight (fun supporting character), Bill Murray (a popular face for the 90s), Danny DeVito (antagonist Swackhammer), Patricia Heaton (as herself, love her) and Dan Castellaneta (Male Fan — seriously, that’s what it says on IMDB) was impressive. Sure, not all of them on this list are A-listers, but damn they gave a good performance for a film that was 10 notches below the quality of ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?’. They honestly seemed to enjoy themselves in the scenes they resided in and that helps push the believability of the film, even if the film is mostly animated.
Anyway, if you have been living underneath a rock, or swamped with reviewing since the 2000s began, then let me break how this film goes down.
The first act starts off by introducing us to Michael Jordan, who has had enough of basketball and has decided move on and into baseball. The transition between the sports doesn’t go so well, though. Struggling to make a name for himself, and step out of the shadows of the basketball image he had been know for during his professional career, he continually finds life on the diamond a little bit tough to handle; but he continues pushing himself.
The film then quickly moves to our antagonist, Swackhammer, who is an alien tycoon looking for the next big attraction for his struggling amusement park. He assigns his best set of aliens to go out and acquire the Looney Tunes and force them to play basketball until they are no longer useful. Sending his minions out to visit the Looney Tunes, who are not receptive to the idea, the aliens force the Looney Tunes into a game of basketball in order for the Tunes to win their freedom.
The second act begins with aliens prepping for their big game by going around the NBA and stealing the talents of Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Muggsy Bogues, Larry Johnson and Shawn Bradley. Those poor aliens. *Ahem* Jordan finds himself involved with the entire situation while playing golf with Billy Murray and Larry Bird, where he promptly gets sucked down the Looney Tunes hole on a green. I can’t write that any better. Upon arrival, he meets the gang of Looney Tunes and then soon after meets the Monstars, who are equipped with NBA talent, as well as their hunger to dominate Jordan and his newly acquainted Tune friends in a game of roundball (the first game does not go well). The second act concludes with Jordan and the Tunes getting ready to go up against the odds and hopefully come out on top.
The final act of the film revolves around the actual game against the Monstars. This is, as I can predict with confidence, the crux of the entertainment and memories of most young lads/lasses who saw this film at a young age. I’m pretty sure this is where Bill Murray’s career spiked again, but you know, that’s hard to tell. The 90s were good to Murray. Anyway, I won’t go on with how this movie ends, but I will say that it does entertain and it captured my kids’ attention, which speaks volumes about Space Jam. If a movie that is 20 years old can do that, even though the content is no longer relevant to a younger audience (because this generation’s Jordan is Lebron or Durant), it still continues to be something special.
Overall, my first Space Jam experience was a bit more entertaining than expected. It’s not the greatest movie in the world, but it does have some good longevity to its story. Plus, Jordan did a great job acting. He was certainly helped by his animated counterparts and animated real-life actors (Knight and Murray, especially), but he still sounded a lot better than the other NBA players in the movie. Anyway, darn good movie. I can see why people adore it.
On the Blu-ray side of the tracks, once again Warner Home Video has knocked it out of the ballpark. They did a superb job with the transfer of a 20-year old film and made it look the best way they could without too much outdated material getting in the way. There aren’t any imperfections or issues with it, as it looks superb in HD. Animation is tough to keep pretty after a number of years, but they did it well.
On the special features side of the tracks, here’s what you’re getting:
– Commentary from director Joe Pytka, Bugs Bunny (voiced by Billy West) and Daffy Duck (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker)
– Featurette: “Jammin” with Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan
– Music videos including Seal’s “Fly Like an Eagle” and Monstars’ anthem “Hit ‘Em High”
Not much going on, outside of some fun commentary, but most of you are getting this for the film.