Movie Review – Space Jam (The Original) 1996

I believe I can fly, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of this classic.

I can’t believe it, but yes, I said classic.

Have you ever had an ex that you dumped because of X reason, but then the years go by, the world beats you up, you suddenly realize nothing and no one is perfect, and all of a sudden, you wish you had them back in your life because the alternatives are so bad that X reason doesn’t even seem like a good reason for dumping them any more?

That’s how I feel about the original Space Jam in light of the new Space Jam.

When I was a kid, I thought the original was a horrid mess, just a dumb piece of film, sans plot, just one big ad for the NBA and Loony Tunes, a marketing ploy to get people to pay attention to both.

Ah, but the new one made me go and seek out the old and…well, it still is a very silly movie…but I’ll admit…there is a better attempt at a plot and much more success at humor.

The thin plot? Swackhammer (Danny Devito) is the crooked owner of the intergalactic theme park known as Moron Mountain. Sales are dwindling, so he wants to kidnap the Looney Tunes and force them to perform for park guests until the end of time. He sends his tiny minions, the wimpy nerdlucks, to kidnap Bugs and Co and while they lack physical size, they make up for it with enormous ray guns that the tunes can’t beat.

In true Bugs fashion, the wascally wabbit sticks a post-it note in a made-up rule book that says the Tunes get a chance to defend themselves (he could have just written you have to let the tunes go but then the movie wouldn’t happen.)

Long story short, Bugs challenges the nerds to a game of basketball, thinking his opponents are so small that he and his loony friends will easily dominate them. Alas, the nerds manage to steal the skills of famous 90s players like Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Muggsy Bogues and a few others whose names I forget already.

This makes for the funniest parts of the film, as it becomes an ongoing sideplot where the players and the NBA investigate how they lost their skills. The NBA assumes a mysterious virus is in play, so they cancel the season so they can tent and fumigate all the basketball forums, almost a blast from the past that we can relate to today in this age of covid.

Meanwhile, Prince Charles and friends visit doctors, healers and all manner of quacks in the hopes of figuring out how to regain their skills, each scene funnier than the last.

The Tunes kidnap Jordan so he can become their star player, and the film literally wastes no time on Jordan wondering how the heck he got there or being shocked that cartoons and/or aliens are real and so on. Like, it almost would have made more sense if they had spent a minute or two with Jordan being shocked about this, but His Royal Airness is just like, oh well this is just an unexpected pain in the ass thing I have to deal with.

Bill Murray and Wayne Knight round out the cast, Wayne of Seinfeld fame being Jordan’s toadyish sidekick/publicist and Bill declaring that he always harbored a secret desire to play pro ball. B-Ball legend Larry Bird has a few funny scenes, the funniest being when he and Murray witness Jordan being sucked down a golf ball hole and decide that they’re too busy to do anything about and not to worry because he’ll probably be OK.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Both the original and sequel have major plotholes, though both have the attitude of plotholes being so silly that they make the movie good. However, the original at least made an attempt at patching the holes together with tape and glue, while the sequel doesn’t try. I noticed more second and third billing tunes were allowed in the original, which makes me think these cartoons are so old that today’s kids only know about Bugs and his immediate friends. The original is only an hour and a half long, whereas the sequel drones on, and the Tunes get way more screen time. The film has a self-depricating approach, where the tunes themselves mock things that don’t make sense, spiriting plotholes away with a joke.

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One thought on “Movie Review – Space Jam (The Original) 1996

  1. Chel Owens says:

    I’m pretty sure it exists just for that shot of MJ’s abs.

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