After twenty years, ‘Space Jam’ is still a uniquely bad movie

This is a picture of the author’s grandmother with Michael Jordan. This is completely irrelevant to the article other than that the author’s grandmother met Michael Jordan once. / Courtesy of Evelyn Frick

I need to preface this article by saying that I have never seen the classic docudrama “Space Jam.” That being said, this is a review, and I give “Space Jam” three and a half stars. I know, dear reader, you must have a lot of questions right now. But bear with me. Or raccoon with me. Or Bugs Bunny with me. Whatever, you get the gist, just keep reading. I guess to answer what inevitably is your first question: yes I am single and ready to mingle. As for your other questions, yes I have really never seen “Space Jam.” I’m not quite sure why my childhood was robbed of this delight; my sister and I loved watching the Looney Tunes gang when we were younger. And we are true ’90s kids, I promise. Like many other things (proper sex education, going to the dentist, my current sleep schedule, to name a few), I guess watching this movie slipped through the cracks.

Also, yes I realize that I am perfectly capable of taking the time to watch the movie now and then review it. But, here, dear reader is where we disagree. It is one thing to watch cartoon characters and Michael Jordan do some jammin’ up in space when you are a small, hopeful child. It is something completely different to watch your heroes of old and Michael Jordan get into some classic shenanigans when you are a nineteen-year-old on antidepressants.

Not that it would be any less fun! However, I think my worldview has substantially shifted over the course of these years. And thus, I think it is only fair, to myself and to you, that I review this movie without having ever seen it. (To clarify, I will be reviewing this movie based on my assumptions, any anecdotal information I have about it and a quick perusal of the movie’s Wikipedia page. Without looking at the plot section, of course.)

So here we go. One of my favorite things about this movie was the soundtrack. I didn’t think it was possible to make “Adagio for Strings” by Samuel Barber any more beautiful than it already is, but the slow-motion compilation of Looney Tunes completely destroying some Martians during their game, was enough to make me tenderly weep. I also thought it was an interesting choice to pair such a beautiful piece with the likes of MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This,” but shockingly it really worked. The yearning of the strings in Barber’s piece meshed with the synthetic beat of Hammer’s pop ballad. Kudos producers. I’ll have to make sure to put both of those songs on my pump-up jam playlist.

Although, I am a bit confused why Charles Barkley of the Phoenix Suns, Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics, Patrick Ewing of the New York Knickerbockers, Shawn Bradley of the Philadelphia 76ers, Larry Johnson of the Charlotte Hornets and Muggsy Bogues of the Charlotte Hornets co-starred. They are all basketball stars and this movie is clearly about Michael Jordan’s post-basketball, baseball career. Watching basketball players playing baseball on a basketball court with aliens was really not that believable to me. I’m not sure how this seemingly gaping flaw could have gotten past the directorial team on this movie, but to each their own I suppose. I am not one to shame artists for their artistic choices.

The most intriguing thing about this movie was how much it reminded me of “Breathless” by Jean-Luc Godard; another movie I have not seen. Both made me ponder about the complexities of human emotion and feeling and condemnation of the world-at-large. It also occurred to me that “Space Jam” is another perfect example of French New Wave cinema. Despite that this movie was not made in France, written in French and that closest francophone connection in the film is that Pepé Le Pew is one of the characters, both films express an interesting experimentation with the film genre. They are both trailblazers for their cinematic time and as a movie viewer, I owe a lot to the genius of “Space Jam” and “Breathless.” Finally, they are also similar in that they are, in fact, both movies.

All-in-all, “Space Jam” was marketed as a children’s movie, but in reality I see it more as an existential journey through space and time as a crude allegory for the female orgasm. The sensuality and blatant eroticism of the Looney Tunes characters permeate every aspect of the movie. It left me aroused in ways I never knew I could be. It is more than a children’s movie–it is a wisely informed soft porn.

And yet, I was left wanting more; I needed more emotion from the Tasmanian Devil and Michael Jordan could’ve worn tighter gym shorts. Also, they definitely had the budget to film in outer space and despite a slightly convincing extraterrestrial set, they clearly did not. I expected higher quality production value from Warner Bros. and was let down. I’m truly baffled how a movie company could hit and miss with a movie mixing cartoon and real-life characters who team up to play sports in a place without gravity. That seems like a slam dunk to me. (Too bad this film isn’t about basketball, otherwise that would’ve been a solid pun!)

For these reasons, I have decided to give “Space Jam” three and a half stars. However, check back in in this series of articles for another review of “Space Jam.” I haven’t decided whether or not I will review it after watching it while high or while suspended upside down, but either way, I’m willing to see if the change in perception changes my opinion.

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