Quick-Thoughts: Space Jam (1996)

So this is basically just Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters but for Michael Jordan’s career, right? And instead of using mainly the work of his past to heft the film thematically they use mainly Looney Tunes shenanigans to do it instead. Da? 

I guess it’s hard not to at least applaud a film for being this outright weird, let alone one made for a large mainstream audience of 90s children, competitive basketball fans, and nostalgic adults hungry for some Looney Tunes crave. From aliens “talent-extracting” people, steroid references, a suspiciously casual slavery plot point, humans being ball-folded/inflated, and ummm… public masturbation jokes, yeah, Space Jam you could say was a “trip”. For a movie that creatively wants to be a representation of Michael Jordan’s transition from basketball to baseball and his booming revival then back to basketball, however, they sure do shadow his story for the mundane Looney Tunes narrative at hand. 

The beginning of the movie sufficiently explains Michael Jordan’s decision to switch over to baseball, but from there on out it gets loose with its reality-based comparisons. In the second act, Michael Jordan almost instantly decides to play basketball again when asked, leaving the core concept to such wasted potential as the rest of the film becomes your predictable, formulaic sports game flick that happens to have a few blatant allegories here and there. For example, there’s one about ominous contractors who are willing to sell the soul of their players, but it doesn’t do anything with it because of how restricted it is in this children’s narrative that can’t do anything but say said *parallel* exists and then leave it at that. Space Jam is either just a series of tame insinuations or really unfunny references to the familiar Looney Tunes characters’ quirks and pop culture of the 90s. 

The main theme is such a bop though. 

Verdict: C-

“Space Jam” is now available to stream on HBO Max and Hulu.

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