Throwback Thursday: Space Jam
Space Jam (1996) movie review
Released in November, 1996, Space Jam sees NBA star Michael Jordan teaming up with the Looney Tunes to win a basketball game set up by an alien intent on capturing the Tunes and using them as attractions in an amusement park. The now cult-classic had an ambitious marketing campaign that led to a worldwide gross of over $230 million at the box office on a whopping $80 million budget. That said, the film’s gross from North America barely covered it’s budget, so I’m not sure what country we have to thank for the cult classic status that warranted a sequel opening this weekend…
I do not like the original Space Jam. I’ve seen it twice and both times I thought it’s true sequel, Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003) was significantly funnier. So, like just about everyone else, apparently even those who like the original, I’m genuinely loathing watching another one of these NBA commercials. I should go ahead and say that I also don’t care about basketball, so I’m probably not this film’s target audience… Still I think Space Jam isn’t really held together by a love for Michael Jordan, rather a love of 90s nostalgia, of which this below average movie is still essential viewing.
One thing I think does not work in this movie is the direction. I get that Michael Jordan isn’t exactly an actor, but he also gives a very directionless performance that I don’t think he is to blame for. You get the sense watching Space Jam that people are just calling things out to him and forcing someone who hasn’t had really any true acting experience to very quickly improvise. (This film was also a bit of a nightmare in shooting when it came to the inclusion of the effects too, so that ‘sense’ is more or less what happened.) Here’s the thing though: This was done very well only eight years earlier in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), so you’d think they could simply learn from that and focus on making a movie that works.
Another thing that I don’t really care for is the tone. This movie doesn’t really focus on drama, so it should be a simply sports comedy. Except it’s not very funny, and it yada-yada’s through the sports with constant cheating, dunking, and not much else. It does have some funny moments that, I will admit, I laughed at both times I watched this movie. Looking at you Mr. Bill Murray. Such a treasure that man. But yeah, aside from a few self-aware jokes, it’s not a very funny movie. So I end up just not feeling anything watching this awkward tone of a film.
That said, there are a few things I can appreciate here. (Lola Bunny isn’t one of them.) For one, while his performance left something to be desired at no fault of his own, the film does focus on Michael Jordan as a character to a surprisingly decent degree. I liked that he has something of an actual character arc! Of all the film’s that could have messed up doing a crossover and having one story overshadow the other, Space Jam… isn’t one of them? Seriously, the plot is very Looney Tunes, while the ‘heart’ of the story is Jordan’s. Not bad Warner Bros. you evil overlords you…
Still though, in the end I don’t really care about this movie one way or the other. I’d give it a point back for me personally not caring about anything basketball, but that point just counteracts my ‘Lola Bunny is a horrible character’ point that I took away. So here’s the real question: Have you seen Space Jam? If you haven’t, I don’t think you really need to. And if you have, I’m curious to hear if you think it’s a good movie, or just a nostalgic time? Either way, I think it’s a 5/10. (Again I think that’s because I get such a kick out of Back in Action!)
Another big thing for me is the soundtrack. Most people love it. I don’t really care about any of it… So now the question remains, should we review Looney Tunes: Back in Action? And do o you have plans to see Space Jam: A New Legacy this weekend? Be sure to leave a like and/or a comment below and let us know! And if you liked this review, well we have a ton coming soon! So stay ‘Tuned’ if you will… That’s- that’s a Looney Tunes joke, but it doesn’t really come across- you know what, that’s all folks!
-review by Ryan Prince