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Thursday, March 7, 2019

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WIRTB Review: Space Jam

By Speed on the Beat

Greetings, all. Speed on the Beat back with the first WIRTB Review in a while on EOTR. Today, we’re going to take a different route. We’re still talking sports and the like, but we’re going to merge the worlds of WIRTB Review and talk a bit about Michael Jordan’s foray into children’s film. No, this won’t be a review of Come Fly with Me or Michael Jordan’s Playground. Instead, let’s keep it light and fluffy…like a bunny tail. With LeBron James recently passing Michael Jordan on the NBA All-Time scoring list—and a Space Jam sequel on the way, because what else can LeBron ape from Jordan Hollywood ran out of ideas yet again—let’s look at 1996’s perennial millennial “classic.” 


And, no, I won’t go all Nostalgia Critic and talk about bunny boobies. While furries are people, too, I think people have run the whole “I think Lola is ‘hot’” thing into the ground a while ago. Besides, I don’t understand the logistics behind it well enough to speak on it and think it’s odd. Sorry.

Space Jam isn’t really a movie that you can say definitively it’s good or bad without offending (or fake offending) someone. Call it good and you’re flying in the face of those who’d call it a by-the-numbers commercial for Jordan’s brand, the NBA, and Warner Bros. Call it bad and you’re pissing on the memories of millennials who cry (for differing reasons) when “I Believe I Can Fly” comes on. It more so lies in that middle ground; we know it sucks, but it’s our suck. It’s so ‘90s, you can smell the Surge and Pizza Cravers Doritos seeping from its pores and it doesn’t hide this. It revels in the fact that it wasn’t setting out to be timeless by lobbing in as many ‘90s references you could into a kid’s movie (Pulp Fiction gets lampooned, Madonna dating Charles Barkley gets spoofed, The Mighty Ducks gets riffed on—both the team and the movies).


On its surface, it’s a basic movie and is kind of a commercial that, ironically, sprang up from a commercial starring Jordan and Bugs Bunny. The plot is simple: Michael Jordan is coaxed back into playing basketball by the Looney Tunes to save them from being turned into alien slaves. Said alien slavers, led by Danny DeVito playing the Dad from Matilda, have sucked the basketball lifeforce out of MJ’s friends to become the Monstars (get it? They’re monsters and they’re stars). And it’s up to MJ and the Looney Tunes to save the players’—and their own—skins by doing Looney Tunes antics, taking placebo steroids, sexually harassing Lola Bunny until she turns the tables and lays a kiss on Bugs (is this equality or Stockholm’s. So confused), trotting out Bill friggin’ Murray, and Gurren Lagann-ing the already-loopy physics of the Looney Tunes mythos.


It’s a shameless cash-grab (though not as shameless as Looney Tunes: Back in Action). But, it’s also a ‘90s kids movie. Most of them, aside from the Disney ones, completely sucked. The fact that Space Jam was even halfway coherent is a victory in of itself. It has moments of brilliance and moments of putridness. But, to be completely frank, it’s not good.

It’s not “bad,” but it’s not good. It seemingly exists as a time capsule of the positives and negatives of 1990s consumerism where everything had to be a movie with an amazing soundtrack. It was fun and funny, but that’s because it was more in on the joke that it wasn’t all that deep or good/it was meant to be just “MJ getting money playing with cartoons while Charles Barkley is a real star.” It’s one of those “so bad it’s good” movies that knows what it is and doesn’t really hide it. Usually, I hate those, but here? It works, and not just because of the nostalgia.

I think that’s what has made it as revered among millennials and others as it is. Never mind the fact that it was Michael Jordan’s first—and only—starring film appearance (outside of the NBA Home Video documentaries and the like). The movie knows it’s ridiculous and runs with it, wallows in it, and reminds you of it until you’re forced to say “well, damn. This is brilliant in a so bad, it’s good sort of way.” Plus, it’s ‘90s as hell. So, if it comes on, would I say go out of your way and watch? Eh, no. However, if you want to see Michael Jordan play Stretch Armstrong and save Daffy Duck from working the corner working for aliens, by all means.

Just...don't expect me to sing R. Kelly ever again.

3 comments:

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