movie film review | chris tookey

Space Jam

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  Space Jam Review
Tookey's Rating
4 /10
Average Rating
6.50 /10
Michael Jordan ........... Michael Jordan, Stan Podolak ............. Wayne Knight, Juanita Jordan ........... Theresa Randle
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Directed by: Joe Pytka
Written by: Steve Rudnick, Leo Benvenuti, Timothy Harris and Herschel Weingrod

Released: 1996
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 87

Diminutive space aliens find that their theme park, less than enticingly called Moron Mountain, is struggling to attract customers. So their boss (voiced by Danny De Vito) decides to kidnap Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes characters and enslave them to work there. But Bugs Bunny has the bright idea of challenging the aliens to a game at which they can’t possibly excel, by reason of their size: basketball. If the aliens win, Bugs and his pals agree to go quietly; but if the aliens lose, the aliens must go home. Unfortunately, the aliens have a trick up their sleeves. They go to earth and steal the talent of five leading basketball players (all of them American sports stars, but pretty much unknown in Britain); whereupon Bugs and Co kidnap a recently retired basketball star, Michael Jordan, to help them defeat the newly talented, and vastly bigger, aliens in a sporting showdown.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Here’s a movie inspired by a 30-second TV commercial, and it looks like it. Though a hit in the States, this is not so much a family film as an exercise in product placement.

The mixture of live-action and cartoon may be the same that made a hit out of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? but the script hasn’t the same wit, or sense of fun. The film’s notions of sportsmanship are depressing - “win at all costs, if necessary by violence” appears to be the message. There’s something demeaning about the way much-loved cartoon characters are forced to play second fiddle to some remarkably charmless humans, including Bill Murray as himself, and Wayne Knight as a Uriah Heepish sports publicist.

Poor Sylvester and Tweetie Pie barely raise a smile. Elmer Fudd, Porky Pig, Yosemite Sam and Taz the Tasmanian Devil put in cheerless appearances, as though out of contractual duty. The normally resourceful Bugs Bunny is reduced to playing a romantic lead, opposite a sexually stereotypical bunny-girl built along the lines of Pamela Anderson.

Small boys may respond positively to the slapstick, and to seeing some of their favourite cartoon characters on the big screen; but they are likely to be bemused by sports heroes who are unknown to them.

Warner Brothers are evidently keen to sell Michael Jordan as a black role-model, now that other sports stars, such as O.J. Simpson and “Magic” Johnson, have been found wanting. Jordan has an easy-going charm, but the hero-worshipping of him here goes beyond tacky - it verges on the fascistic.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with films which generate merchandising - Star Wars being a famous example - but here’s a film which has been inspired by the urge to merchandise, and little else. It’s not a pretty sight.

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