Space Jam (1996)



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I was eight years old when Space Jam was released. I believe I went to a birthday party focused on it. Space Jam was made during Michael Jordan’s first retirement. The movie offers a comical reason for Jordan’s return to the NBA. This movie was fantastic when I was a kid and I was worried it would not hold up to a re-watch as an adult. Those fears were unfounded as it was an enjoyable nostalgic look back in time.

As I write this the Covid-19 crisis is on-going and the NBS stopped its season mid-game. In Space Jam, after several NBA star’s talents disappear with no explanation the entire league ends the season due to players’ health concerns. Arenas are tented for fumigation and gasmasks are dawned by several players. It felt a little strange how similar the fictional NBA’s reaction was relative to the actual reactions during Covid-19.

The Looney Tunes cartoons do not have a great history when looking back through a modern lens. Fortunately, Space Jam seems to avoid most of the controversy. Lola Bunny is a highly sexualized female rabbit that makes the male tunes jaws drop. She does have skill on the court, but it is a bit out of taste to have the lone female be such an objectified object.

I found myself saying the lines along with the movie multiple times. Somewhere in the back of my brain, these lines must have been stored for the last 24 years. Most of the jokes still made me laugh despite being a very different person from when I first saw this movie. Michael Jordan is not asked to do much acting, which is good since it is not his forte. Wayne Knight of Newman fame plays his type-cast role very well. Bill Murray plays himself in a wonderful way like Zombieland. At one-point Murray is asked by the Tunes how he got to their universe and he says he is friends with a producer. It is certainly the truth about how he made it into the movie.

Lots of movies from my childhood don’t stand -up to an adult revisit, but Space Jam does. The 2D animation ages well, but some early CGI makes you appreciate how far we have come. Blending real actors into the 2D universe is done effectively. If you grew up with this movie and have kids now, I think you should share it with them. If you want to remember a simpler, pre-Covid time, and can handle the easy parallels drawn to today’s pandemic, then this movie is a solid 1:30 escape to a fun nostalgic place. Also, head on over to www.spacejam.com to see a time-capsule of a website.

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©2019 by Sean Whitehurst