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Space Jam
1996 - PG - 81 Mins.
Director: Joe Pytka
Written By: Steve Rudnick
Starring: Michael Jordan, Bill Murray, Wayne Knight, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Yosemite Sam, Tweety Bird
Review by: John Ulmer
   
There's a great scene far into "Space Jam," when comedian Bill Murray makes an unbilled appearance at a basketball game with Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes. An alien creature (voiced by Danny DeVito) says, "Hey! I didn't know Dan Aykroyd was in this picture!" Bill Murray helps out the Looney Tunes team and then leaves the scene. But he comes back later again at the end when Larry Bird takes a seat next to Bill, who, watching Michael Jordan dribbling the ball on court, says, "That coulda been me."

Humor like that comes in abundance during "Space Jam," a fun family film that has been ridiculed by critics and audiences alike for, as far as I can see it, no purpose whatsoever. Roger Ebert saw the side of the movie that I saw in "Space Jam," and that is an energetic motion picture that is fun for both the adults and kids in the audience.

I saw "Space Jam" in the theater when it was released. I think it was a good choice. There was a lot of laughter and a lot of joy in the cinema--kids were laughing at certain physical gags and adults were laughing at in-jokes referencing such subjects as Michael Jordan's sports career to political humor to Bill Murray humor like mentioned above.

Daffy Duck has always been my favorite Looney Tune, and he's given the usual treatment here. Take the scene when his team is introduced. Claps echo from the stadium until he walks out into the court. You can hear a pin drop it's so silent. People accuse this of being a cheap film made to boost Michael Jordan's career (which would end and then spark again in the years to come).

"Space Jam" opens with Michael Jordan as a young boy shooting hoops outside his home in North Carolina. We skip forward years later and, during the opening credits, see flashes of him soaring through the air in pairs of Air Jordans. Then the movie really starts: Michael has retired from basketball, taking up a career in baseball. Needless to say, he's not too great at baseball--and we're given good proof of that.

Then Bugs Bunny drops in for a visit from the cartoon world. A pack of aliens has challenged the Tunes to a basketball game, and if they lose, something catastrophic happens (don't blame me for not remembering, folks). Little did the Tunes know when they agreed to the bet that the space creatures would steal the talent from NBA players and morph into huge, skilled b-ball players.

So Michael Jordan strikes a bet with the aliens in Tune World. If they lose, they have to give their powers back to his NBA friends. If he loses, he is their slave for eternity. (Or until he dies in the next forty years.)

Fun comes in big doses for this film. I understand how some people could be turned off by the way Michael Jordan is treated as a god and becomes the highlight of the entire motion picture, as if he is the primary star and the Tunes are just there for comedy relief. But, folks, that really is the point of this movie. The Looney Tunes are getting their own movie soon with Brendan Fraser. But in "Space Jam," they are merely sidekicks to Michael Jordan--co-stars, if you wish to say. But they do provide some great comic relief, as does Bill Murray and Wayne Knight. And Michael Jordan playing basketball in a cartoon world with no limits? No way!

The Tunes' world is brought to life through great animation, and as "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" contributed to the animation genre, "Space Jam" adds its own touch, too. I liked this flick. Michael Jordan is in it a bit too much--who cares? After all, there's a reason he's on all the posters.

And Daffy Duck is still better than Bugs Bunny.
 
Movie Guru Rating
An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater.
  4 out of 5 stars

 
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