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042: Space Jam

Maximilian Rivera January 10, 2017
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By Max Rivera | @MaxRiveraFilm

Premise: In a desperate attempt to win a basketball game and earn their freedom, the Looney Tunes seek the aid of retired basketball champion, Michael Jordan.

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Space Jam is one of those films that maintains a bit of respect in the millennial community — I mean, it combines Bugs Bunny with Michael Jordan, and features great cameos by Bill Murray, Wayne Knight, and a handful of other NBA athletes. But is the film itself good? It’s fun. Qualifying it as good or bad is kind of tough — it is an act of commercial brilliance, though. 

As far as plot and pacing, Space Jam flies through into the core conflict. Aliens from Moron Mountain (a poorly performing amusement park planet) are going to take the Looney Tunes hostage as their slaves, but Bugs and company challenge them to a game of basketball.  The aliens steal the talent of some of the NBA’s hottest stars (like Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing) and become the Monstars. The Loony Tunes then draft Michael Jordan to teach them how to win their freedom on the court. 

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However, Jordan finds that training these wacky cartoon characters is harder than it seems. This is where Lola Bunny comes in. She’s a natural at the game, adds some feminine mystique to the team, and is a total creation of the 90s.

Lola could be a fully realized and feminine cartoon character, but isntead toes the line between anachronistic girl power of the time and a sexualized anthropomorphic rabbit. That being said, she doesn’t really hurt the film in anyway. She’s barely in it, when you really add it all up. However, we learn that Lola hates being called doll. We see her challenge Bugs to one-on-one in her introduction and sharing a kiss with him by the end of the movie.

We also advise people not to google her without your browser safety settings on. 

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There are plenty of great toon antics throughout the film, and there are even a few adult-centric jokes in the B-plot involving the talentless athletes. As a kid’s film, though, you’re not going to get the most mature jokes. This doesn’t detract from the fun of Space Jam, but I can imagine plenty of parents tuned it out as they watched it. 

Space Jam was a successful film, too. On top of that, the soundtrack is a phenomenal microcosm of the mid-to-late nineties R&B and Hip Hop scene, with tracks from R. Kelly, Seal, Busta Rhymes, Method Man, Monica, and Quad City DJs. 

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I’m not gonna pretend that Space Jam isn’t fun just because of nostalgia — that very well could be the case. We started this podcast by watching Mac and Me, a McDonalds sponsered kids film that blatantly rips off E.T. When you take Space Jam into consideration based against that, you find it’s a movie that accomplishes its goals splendidly. It’s not as nuanced or self aware as The Lego Movie, but it makes kids laugh and tells (very simple) story. ​About Michael Jordan. Playing basketball with Bugs Bunny.

​In that sense, it’s a slam dunk. 

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Max is a marketing copywriter by day, filmmaker and screenwriter by night. He resides in Charlotte, NC, and loves his dogs, watching movies, building LEGO sets, and eating food. Lots of food.You can find Max at his personal website and twitter.