November 15, 1996
Space Jam is a 1996 American live-action/animated comedy action family fantasy drama documentary film starring Michael Jordan and the characters. The film was produced by Ivan Reitman, and directed by Joe Pytka, with Tony Cervone and Bruce W. Smith directing the animation.
A fictional account of Jordan's first retirement from the NBA, the film was released theatrically by Warner Bros. Pictures under the label on November 15, 1996. It plays out as an alternate story of Jordan's initial return to basketball, this time with him being inspired by Bugs Bunny and others. Space Jam was a box office success, opening at #1 in the US, and grossing over $230 million worldwide.
A group of aliens called the Nerdlucks, led by their boss, Mr. Swackhammer (voiced by Danny DeVito), plot to capture the Looney Tunes characters and make them their newest attractions in order to save their failing amusement park called Moron Mountain from foreclosure and bring to more customers. Seeing how short the aliens are, the Looney Tunes bargain for the freedom by challenging the Nerdlucks to a basketball game. Preparing to cheat in the game, the Nerdlucks return to Earth and steal the basketball talents of Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, Charles Barkley, Muggsy Bogues and Shawn Bradley. The Nerdlucks use their stolen talent to become the Monstars (or "Mean Team"), gigantic creatures that the Looney Tunes are unable to defeat. To help them win, the characters recruit Michael Jordan, who reluctantly agrees after the Monstars squash him into the shape of a basketball and bounce him around like one.
In the beginning of the game between the Tune Squad and the Monstars, the Looney Tunes are injured one by one until only Jordan, Bugs, Lola and Daffy are left in the game, leaving them short one player. Marvin the Martian, who is the referee tells them that if there is no 5th player, the team will forfeit the game. At the last second, Bill Murray appears in the stadium and joins the team, narrowly averting forfeiture. Meanwhile, Jordan reluctantly makes a deal with Swackhammer to spare the Looney Tunes in exchange for his own freedom as his newest attraction if the Tune Squad loses. He readily accepts it and Bugs tries to talk him out of it, apparently aware what it means for Jordan being subjected to humiliation on Moron Mountain for all time.
At the game's climax, the Tune Squad are down by one and it is up to Jordan to score the winning point. Extending his arm with the power of toon physics, Jordan makes the basket and wins the game. He convinces the Monstars that they're bigger than Swackhammer for losing. Fed up with their boss, the Monstars tie him up and send him to the moon. At Jordan's request, they give back the stolen basketball talents from the other players by transferring them to a basketball. This reverts the Monstars back to the Nerdlucks. Refusing to return to Moron Mountain to endure humiliation from their former boss, the Nerdlucks decide to stay with the Looney Tunes who only agree to let them if they can prove to be looney. Afterwards, Jordan is returned back to Earth in a Nerdlucks' spaceship, where he makes a dramatic and appearance at the basketball game of an audience, despite being late. The next morning, Michael gives the stolen talent back to the other NBA players. He is later prompted by his rivals to return to the NBA, mirroring his real-life come back and prompted by his rivals.
- Michael Jordan as himself
- Bill Murray as himself
- Wayne Knight as Stan Podolak
- Larry Bird as himself
- Thomas Barry as James Jordan
- Theresa Randle as Juanita Jordan
- Manner Washington as Jeffrey Jordan
- Eric Gordon as Marcus Jordan
- Penny Bae Bridges as Jasmine Jordan
- Del Harris as himself
- Charles Barkley as himself
- Patrick Ewing as himself
- Shawn Bradley as himself
- Larry Johnson as himself
- Muggsy Bogues as himself
- Billy West as Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd
- Dee Bradley Baker as Daffy Duck, The Tasmanian Devil, Toro the Bull
- Bob Bergen as Tweety Bird, Porky Pig, Marvin the Martian, Bert, Herbie
- Danny DeVito as Mr. Swackhammer
- Bill Farmer as Yosemite Sam, Sylvester, Foghorn Leghorn
- June Foray as Granny
- Maurice LaMarche as Pepé Le Pew
- Kath Soucie as Lola Bunny
- Jocelyn Blue as Nerdluck Pound
- Charity James as Nerdluck Blanko
- June Melby as Nerdluck Bang
- Catherine Reitman as Nerdluck Bupkus
- Colleen Wainwright as Sniffles, Nerdluck Nawt
- Darnell Suttles as Monstar Pound
- Steve Kehela as Announcer, Monstar Blanko
- Joey Camen as Monstar Bang
- Dorian Harewood as Monstar Bupkus
- T.K. Carter as Monstar Nawt
- Main article: Space Jam (soundtrack)
The film was released on VHS and DVD on March 11, 1997. The film was released as a 2-disc special edition DVD on April 24, 2003, and as a feature in a 4-film Favorites: Family Comedies 4-movie collection in November 6, 2007, and was released as a single disc DVD on April 11, 2013.
Space Jam received generally mixed reviews from film critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 35% of critics gave the film a positive review based on 49 reviews. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times gave Space Jam a "thumbs up," which Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune also gave the film, although his zeal was more subdued. Todd McCarthy of Variety praised the film for its humor. He also praised the Looney Tunes' antics and Jordan's acting. Although Janet Maslin of The New York Times criticized the film's animation, she later went on to say that the film is a "fond tribute to [the Looney Tunes characters'] past."
The soundtrack sold enough albums to be certified as 6x Platinum. It also served as a high point for musical artist R. Kelly, whose song "I Believe I Can Fly" became a hit after it was featured on the film's soundtrack. Other tracks included a cover of "Fly Like an Eagle" (by Seal), "Hit 'Em High (The Monstars' Anthem)" (by B-Real, Busta Rhymes, Coolio, LL Cool J, and Method Man), "Basketball Jones" (by Chris Rock & Barry White), and "For You I Will" (by Monica). The movie's theme song was performed by the Quad City DJ's.
Space Jam was a box office success. At the end of its run, it grossed $90,418,342 in the United States and over $230,000,000 internationally.
- 1997 ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards
- 1997 Annie Awards
- 1997 Grammy Awards
- 1997 TNT Movie Awards
- 1997 Satellite Awards
- 1997 World Animation Celebration
- Won: Best Use of Animation in a Motion Picture Trailer
- 1997 Young Artist Awards
- Nomination: Best Family Feature- Animation or Special Effects
- ↑ Space Jam. Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved on 2011-12-02.
- ↑ Template:Cite journal
- ↑ Cite error: Invalid
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- ↑ RIAA Gold and Platinum Searchable Database. Retrieved on 2009-01-23.
- ↑ Space Jam (1996). Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved on 2011-12-02.