In 1996, Warner Bros. released Space Jam, a live-action/animation hybrid starring NBA legend Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes. In the film, Michael Jordan joins forces with Bugs Bunny and friends to form a basketball team dubbed the Tune Squad. Their goal is to defeat the Monstars in a winner-take-all game so the Looney Tunes can avoid working at the Monstars' struggling amusement park. Though the movie was not exactly a critical darling, it earned $230.4 million at the worldwide box office and became a touchstone for an entire generation of youngsters who saw it.
Still, upon reflection two decades later, even the film's most passionate fans admit that there are some flaws, and now several of those shortcomings are being pointed out for all to see. As part of their Fan Appreciation Month, Screen Junkies viewers voted for Space Jam to receive the Honest Trailers treatment. You can watch the takedown of the beloved '90s classic above.
The biggest target in the video is the laziness of the storytelling, with the implication being that the filmmakers stopped trying once they learned they had the rights to Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes. It is funny to consider that a majority of the movie does not take place in outer space, even though it is called Space Jam. There are also massive oversights in the script that are not addressed, such as nobody caring Jordan disappeared from his golf outing and Bill Murray traveling between dimensions to take part in the final act. It's true that children are not going to care about things like this, but for more savvy moviegoers, these aspects are admittedly hard to look past.
Screen Junkies also amusingly takes aim at the famous basketball game itself, questioning everything from the scorekeeping to officiating. Though the NBA was a bit more lenient back in the '90s compared to today, there are some rather egregious flagrant fouls taking place (including a Monstar getting shot in the face), and the refs only care about the rules on a selective basis. Jordan himself also is not safe from criticism, as just about all of his non-basketball actions come across as dubious. In a montage of clips, His Airness peer pressures Daffy Duck into drinking "Michael's Secret Stuff," demands that only he get the ball whenever the Tune Squad is on offense, and acts unconvincingly against cartoon characters. Jordan is many a basketball fan's hero, but it's safe to say kids should only try to emulate him off the court.
Last year, WB announced plans for a sequel, with Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James taking the role as the lead NBA player. It will be interesting to see if that film ever does come into fruition (developments have been few and far between since), but the Space Jam 2 creative team definitely have some improvements to make so that film can avoid a similar fate as its predecessor. Nostalgia can be a great thing at times, but even rose-tinted glasses weren't enough to save Space Jam from the hard hits. At least the film's soundtrack and website are cool.
Source: Screen Junkies
- Space Jam (1996) release date: Nov 15, 1996