IN SELECT THEATERS — If you haven’t had a massive amount of nostalgia to frame the memories for “Space Jam,” then odds are you won’t really enjoy the mix of Michael Jordan, The Looney Tunes, and Bill Murray, for some reason. Without the nostalgia, “Space Jam” is just a mediocre animated comedy that is made by a committee, and used to boast the waning popularity of Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes. There’s also Bill Murray for some reason. Back in the mid nineties, Michael Jordan was sports royalty and was playing baseball professionally; someone had the bright idea to give him a movie co-starring timeless cartoon characters because that’s how stuff works. For all its faults (and there are a lot of them) “Space Jam” is a perfect storm of urban appeal, and family appeal that managed to make it a veritable marketing juggernaut in 1996.
Growing up in the nineties, I would watch cartoons all day long during the weekdays; hell I pulled seven hours at school and was a grade A TV junkie, so I watched a ton of television. During the cartoons, between the toy and candy commercials, there were about thirty anti-drug and alcohol PSA’s played between the hours of three and six. Hey, mock me all you want, but those PSA’s worked and worked well on me. It’s not enough that I always found the idea of drug use disgusting, but the PSA’s that would air on television scared me straight, just as they intended.
Prepare to be schooled in classic music as “Looney Tunes Musical Masterpieces” is an eighteen toon class in some of the finest music. Beyond that it’s also a very fun compilation of the some of the best musical mash ups Termite Terrace has to offer, and you’d be a fool to pass this one up. “A Corny Concerto” garner various short segments including the battle of Bugs, Porky, and his hunting dog, as they outwit one another, and a mother Swan’s attempts to outmatch Beaky Buzzard.
I am very surprised that “Space Jam” continues to garner such a cult following, even to this day. I remember watching it for the first time back in 1996 and leaving it thinking “That kind of sucked.” Even years later, I remember it as a movie that did nothing but pander to audiences, push massive merchandise, and worked as a PR tool for Michael Jordan who’d garnered some poor fan fare after his foray in to baseball. “Space Jam” is not that good a movie.
Even in my current love for nineties nostalgia, you’d have to argue very hard for me to buy the movie on DVD or Blu-Ray. And I almost bought a bag of old pogs on online, a few days ago. In either case, Warner is hoping to cash in on fans of the first movie by creating a sequel tentatively titled “Space Jam 2.” This installment will apparently star Lebron James, in place of Michael Jordan.
1996’s “Space Jam” was a goofy movie, with a paper thin plot, and lackluster comedy obviously constructed by a committee of corporate suits, Jordan’s PR team, and some writers who built the perfect publicity machine for Air Jordan, all the while selling off some Looney Tunes crap with McDonald’s.
That said, we have our fond nostalgia for the movie, however minuscule, so here are 5 Things We Love, and 5 Things We Hate About “Space Jam.”
Mel Blanc was a genius, and with the driving force of his multi-faceted voice work for Warner Bros. on the Looney Tunes library, he managed to pack a lot of power and life in to some of the most iconic cartoon characters of all time. From Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Foghorn Leghorn, and Tweety, to Sylvester, Elmer Fudd, and yes, Bugs Bunny, he gave them personality, idiosyncrasies, and quirks that made them feel alive, even though they were animated.
Originally a wacky ne’er do well, Bugs Bunny turned in to a sly and quick witted under dog hero whose humility and charm was contradicted by his sharp wit, and ability to out match any villain mentally. Except for that damn tortoise. But that’s another story for another day. Bugs Bunny is easily the best cartoon character of all time, and he’s managed to pack more laughs than most iconic cartoon characters combined. Paying tribute to ol’ Bugsy in the new year, we count down our top ten Bugs Bunny toons of all time!
So Easter is coming up and Warner is looking to celebrate that by releasing a small grouping of Easter themed DVD’s. One is a compilation of Bugs Bunny cartoons set to the theme of Easter! Normally I’d call this a lame repackaging in an attempt to gauge money in the spirit of the holiday, but I hate Easter and I love Bugs Bunny so nuts to you. Oddly enough this is actually a movie about Bugs Bunny. For some reason Granny is friends with the Easter Bunny. Sadly he’s very sick and can not deliver eggs to children, so Granny seeks out Bugs to fill in. Bugs can’t because he’s in the studio filming his latest movie and the ever reluctant hero as he is, decides to fill in for the real deal.
5. Tie: Fred Flinstone/Snoopy
In the end, I really couldn’t decide who I loved more. They’ve both had a significant impact on my childhood, they’ve both managed to garner more than a few chuckles out of me over the years, and they’re also interesting creations who have garnered a long shelf life thanks to the innovation of their creators. Snoopy was the much needed edge in the “Charlie Brown” cartoons always giving the characters a run for their money, even during hard times. And I don’t know a single person who didn’t like the Red Baron. From his interaction with Woodstock, to his battles with Peppermint Patty, Snoopy is an enduring icon. Fred originally began as a spoof of Ralph Kramden and thankfully gained his own individual cult status in one of the funniest cartoons ever created. Fred has that particular personality to him that warrants the same laughs as Kramden did, but also revealed a sweet center that showed on more than one occasion. Even at its absolute worst, “The Flintstones” strived thanks to the combined comedy of Fred and Barney.
How do you even describe the riches behind “Academy Awards Animated Collection”? As an animation geek, and a film geek who follow the Oscars, this is such an immaculate and extraordinary DVD set with some of the best animated shorts ever produced. From “Knighty Knight Bus,” to “Superman,” this has some of the best animated shorts ever concocted, and it brings together all nominated shorts, and winners from Warner Bros. with three entire discs. In the discs there are some utterly fantastic attached and optional commentary from Paul Dini who explores Superman, animation historians who discuss Popeye Meets Sinbad the Sailor.