For an ultimate childhood nostalgia trip, Space Jam is my go-to. As a younger child, I wasn’t into basketball, nor do I remember being the die-hard fan of the Looney Tunes, however, I vividly remember my enjoyment in front of the television wearing down my VHS copy of Space Jam.
The film opens with the iconic Michael Jordan in his youth putting up shots in his back garden until his father quizzes him regarding the future. Cue a montage of his Airness himself killing it on court with the Chicago Bulls, before he announces his retirement from the game. Space Jam takes on a fabrication of what happens in between his first retirement and his second coming.
Michael Jordan is pulled into the Looney Tunes world due to a basketball game that has been issued for fates of the Looney Tunes themselves. Mr Swackhammer (Danny DeVito) the owner of the Amusement Park Moron Mountain notices a decline in the Park’s attendance. He sends his minions to kidnap the Looney Tunes and intends them to become the star attraction.
Bugs Bunny tricks the minions into playing a game of basketball thinking they’ll cream them easily, due to their size. That is until the minions steal other NBA superstars’ talent, including Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing. They embody these stars talent, growing enormously and of course scaring the Looney Tunes into action. So they kidnap the greatest of all time, Michael Jordan.
Let’s be honest, it being a great feel-good children’s film, you know whats going to happen in the grand finale when The Tune Squad and the MonStars face off. So I won’t spoil the excellent, smile-inducing ending for you.
Of course the acting throughout from the NBA stars is cheesy, but also hilarious with side jokes I never got as a child. Charles Barkley’s “I’ll never go out with Madonna again” or “I’ll never get another technical” are some of the best remarks.
The comedy doesn’t stop there though, in true Looney Tunes fashion they get up to a number of hijinks during the big game, including Acme explosives, enticing a bull with red paint and of course a man being literally flattened. This is all the while an absolute masterclass of a soundtrack is teased throughout full of 90s pop jams, including Steve Miller’s ‘Fly Like An Eagle’ and R Kelly’s ‘I Believe I Can Fly’.
Everything has to be taken with a pinch of salt of course as the animation is exactly seamless as it transitions from Michael Jordan to the Looney Tunes, but the enjoyment trumps it by far. This is also helped by the comedy and the appreciation of the NBA Stars taking on these roles over the 80-odd minute runtime. But time slips away from the pure enjoyment that comes from Space Jam, with it’s pop culture references, (including an ode to Pulp Fiction) and the stars taking digs at themselves throughout the picture.
Now I may be a little bit bias when it comes to Space Jam because of the childhood ties to this, but I don’t think I’ll ever not enjoy this film. I have since started to enjoy watching the NBA, and the appreciation of watching these now NBA legends on screen is hilarious. I challenge anyone to watch this film and not enjoy it.