A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Directed By: Joe Pytka
Produced By: Ivan Reitman, Joe Medjuck, Daniel Golberg
Written By: Leo Benvenuti, Steve Rudnick, Timothy Harris, Herschel Weingrod
Starring: Michael Jordon, Wayne Knight, Danny DeVito, Theresa Randle
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Nostalgia is a beautiful thing. For a film that is so much of an era, Space Jam has surprisingly but gallantly stood the test of time, embracing every aspect of its quintessential 90’s charm.
Celebrated and recognised to be one of the most iconic children’s sporting films to grace our screens, a cult following has developed regarding this ‘masterpiece’, and with good reason. With outrageous effects, fantastic characters, antics and cameos utilised the way they should be, Space Jam is not just a personal favourite, but a classic of sorts. They certainly don’t make films like they used to…
Michael Jordan (the athlete, not The Human Torch) stars as the saviour of the world we all grew to know and love, the world of The Looney Tunes. After an extravagant plan to boost traffic at his inter-galactic amusement park is devised, Mister Swackhammer (voiced by Danny DeVito) instructs his grovelling servants to capture and imprison beloved Looney Tunes characters, exhibiting them as attractions.
After a legal debate concludes, the decision is settled in the form of a basketball match, a game the Looney Tunes are confidently awaiting. Following a tactical extraction of certain NBA stars’ abilities, the grovelling minions transform into monolithic sporting titans, resulting in cowering and quivering on the Looney’s part.
Their only hope is Jordan, the former king of the sport. Having recently retired from the game, Swackhammer is unaware of Jordan’s talents; therefore they remain untouched, available to assist the now-desperate Looney Tunes in their forthcoming battle to save themselves from slavery.
With a fantastic concept, vastly entertaining character dynamics and an excellent script to match, Space Jam is entertaining from the first frame. The opening credit sequence in itself is lengthy, however it adds quite a lot to the story, even if it is simply a montage of Jordan’s career highlights.
The special effects are laughable by today’s standards, as are some choices on camerawork (the occasional extreme Dutch tilt for example), however there is something endearing about their ambition for the time. Flattening bodies, warping faces and stretching individuals in between dimensions, Space Jam had the intention of bringing the animated realm into the real world and vice versa, and it definitely pays off.
Space Jam is hysterically funny at times, capturing authentic stupidity at its finest and utilising it properly. The cast is by definition an ensemble, and although certain characters are restricted to only a handful of lines, there is an even spread throughout the slew of familiar faces, both two and three-dimensional.
One of the most cameo-heavy films in cinematic history, most of the end credits contain the word “himself” opposed to an actual character name.
Charles Barkley, Muggsy Bogues, Larry Johnson, Shawn Bradley, Patrick Ewing, Larry Bird and Bill Murray all feature rather heavily within the film, providing some pivotal, entertaining moments in the story.
When we reminisce about the 1990’s from a cinematic perspective, sure, we were treated to the classics like Pulp Fiction, Forest Gump, Jurassic Park and The Shawshank Redemption, but to many (myself included), Space Jam was the rare film that boldly combined elements that were true to the era in which it was made and simply got it right.
It has aged significantly over the years, and watching from the present day, you can’t help but laugh at some of the effects, dialogue and editing, but that’s what makes Space Jam timeless in a sense.
As previously mentioned, nostalgia is a beautiful thing, and it counts for so much, particularly in the wonderful world of cinema.