Many times Warner Brothers have tried to create a fantastical universe where real-life characters came together with cartoons in real-life scenarios, none better than in Space Jam 1996. With the reimagining of Space Jam recently it makes sense to revisit this classic, that brought us Michael Jordan, a basketball player, to the big screen alongside some of our favorite Looney Tunes characters in a sports movie classic.
Space Jam 1996 stars Michael Jordan, a real professional basketball player who in 1992-1993 had been in ads with Bugs Bunny, the titular character of Warner Bros Looney Tunes. The project was put together at the time but was put on hold because Jordan had retired from basketball. The film was put back into action when Jordan went back into basketball in 1995. The film was then pitched and denied by many studios until Warner Bros agreed to produce the movie.
Space Jam also has supporting roles from Wayne Knight, who is Stan, Jordan’s agent, Theresa Randle who plays Jordan’s wife, and Bill Murray as himself. Alongside them includes many basketball players who made cameos including Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing of others.
Space Jam was the first of many movies to be made in a virtual studio. This means that there was a 360-degree green screen that Michael Jordan used when he was doing scenes with the Looney Tunes characters. This was very forward-thinking for a movie that was made in the mid-’90s.
The film was not only known for Michael Jordan, but for the soundtrack. This album included hits like I Believe I Can Fly by R. Kelly, I Turn to You by All 4 One, For You I Will by Monica, and Fly Like an Eagle by Seal. The soundtrack was number 2 on the Billboard Top 200 charts in April 1997. Most of these songs ended up being mainstream successes for these artists despite being soundtrack songs. The album itself has gone platinum 6 times.
The film overall had a budget of 80 million dollars and grossed a worldwide total of 250 million dollars at the box office. This movie was an overwhelming success at the time despite being critically panned. Although, most movies in this style are critically panned.
Space Jam is a funny, heartwarming story. It makes it hard to not compare the one that was recently made with LeBron James. (I will do a comparison at some point because they are starkly different) This is the story of Michael Jordan coming back to his love of basketball. Despite immense odds and wanting nothing to do with basketball, it just brings him back in.
I enjoyed the addition of the Looney Tunes. It feels realistic for the 90s and is very similar to Who Framed Roger Rabbit, in how they present the characters in everyday life. I appreciated that they also had a real-life character present in a “toon” world. There is a really well-established “toon” plot as well. So it’s not just a movie about Michael Jordan but sets it up for him to be a hero and also has both plots to coincide together.
Wayne Knight as Stan and Bill Murray, playing himself, are my favorite parts of the film. They bring comedic timing that Jordan does not have. Is Michael Jordan the worst athlete to act? No, anyone who has watched any athlete on SNL can tell you that. I also have to give Jordan credit because there weren’t many people who have worked on movies that are animated and in real life. So, there weren’t many examples to look at as of 1996.
Between the soundtrack (Despite one song being from R. Kelly) and the seamless animated- real-life scenes, the movie is nice. It is one I can always go back to because it is a great family movie. It also reminds me of sitting in the gym at my elementary school watching the movie on the projector. Overall, it is a humorous, fun journey.
Does it Hold up: ⭐
With the new one that just came out, and with Michael Jordan not being relevant other than his sneakers, it doesn’t hold up to today’s standards. With technology today, movies like this can be made so much better.
This movie has so many iconic songs, cartoon characters, and scenes that are easily remembered that this movie is very nostalgic.
Do you agree with my assessment? Post your thoughts in the comments below!
As always, Creating Nostalgia Millennial Style!
1 thought on “Welcome to the Jam! Space Jam (1996)”
Also, the Space Jam website from 1996 still exists and it is pure 90s internet style. https://www.spacejam.com/1996/