Space Jam (1996): 20th Anniversary Steelbook [Blu-ray/DVD/Digital]

spacejamYour enjoyment of “Space Jam” may depend on your nostalgia factor and your love for Michael Jordan. Ultimately, “Space Jam” is a serviceable kids and family animation hybrid that teams up one of the most iconic sports heroes of the nineties with one of the most iconic animated characters of all time. Michael Jordan’s popularity was somewhat waning in 1996 thanks to his stint playing baseball, and “Space Jam” is something of an image boost that also happened to be a pretty huge marketing success during the mid-nineties. With toys, music, VHS tapes, and everything else, “Space Jam” was a pretty big pop culture storm that built a larger and loyal audience.

“Space Jam” teams the Looney Tunes with Michael Jordan when aliens from outer space threaten to enslave the cartoon characters for their galactic theme park. They prove to be formidable foes even for Bugs and Daffy and the Warner gang seek the help of Jordan who helps combat their attempts to invade Earth. They then challenge Michael to a no holds barred basketball showdown and Michael has to come out of retirement to help his friends and keep his freedom, lest he too get taken hostage and forced to perform for their theme park. “Space Jam” has a nice balance of comedy, sports, and appeal toward both audiences. While “Space Jam” is primarily about Michael Jordan with the frame of the movie about how Jordan deals with meeting the Looney Tunes (there’s an adorable scene when Jordan’s youngest son meets Bugs and Daffy for the first time), the characters do get their chances to shine.

Pretty much every Looney Tunes character available is featured here in some capacity, from Bugs right down to Granny. There’s even a brand new character for the sake of merchandising added named Lola, who is a female equivalent to Bugs. Here she’s introduced and becomes official canon for the rest of the Warner Looney Tunes universe. “Space Jam” is short but sweet and has a charming energy about it; as well there are a lot of appearances from celebrities like Bill Murray, Wayne Knight, and a ton of brilliant voice actors like Maurice LaMarche, Billy West, Dee Bradley Baker, respectively. If you’re a fanatic for the Looney Tunes like I am, “Space Jam” is a good cinematic outing for the characters that isn’t a weird excuse to feature clips from past animated shorts. I still enjoy it as a silly and passable animated/live action adventure.

The Steelbook from Warner Bros. comes with a DVD copy and a Digital copy for consumers. Featured in the two disc edition is an audio commentary with Director Joe Pytka and the characters Bug and Daffy as voiced by Billy West and Dee Bradley Baker. This isn’t so much a technical commentary as a comedic shtick for the kids; the actors take on the characters whole hog and never break from the routine. Some older audiences might think it a bit grating, but for younger audiences and folks that like the novelty, it s a hoot. There are two music videos from the soundtrack of “Space Jam” one of which is Seal’s cover of “Fly Like an Eagle,” and “Hit ‘Em High” which teams hip hop stars B-Real, Busta Rhymes, Coolio, LL Cool J, and Method Man. There’s “Jammin’ With Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan” a twenty two minute behind the scenes which explores the history of the Looney Tunes, the creation of the film, and Michael Jordan’s involvement with the creation. It’s more a glossy EPK than anything. Finally there’s the original theatrical trailer for “Space Jam.”