Lace up your sneakers, because Space Jam is the Greatest Movie EVER.
Click on the movie poster or the title above to download our review of the film, featuring Katherin the Great.
Review in a Nutshell: In our continuing efforts to ruin Katherin’s childhood, we take a look at Space Jam. It’s definitely a movie designed to appeal to children, and the Looney Tunes’ wacky antics strike the adult me as just obnoxious and gross, but the movie still has its moments.
Katharine asks; “Who’s Chuck Jones?”
You made an old cartoon fan feel very, very sad, Kat.
The channel “Boomerang” is owned by Time Warner, same with Cartoon Network. Though I normally don’t check schedules of channels at all, I see CN still airs Looney Tunes somehow. They appear to have a half-hour of three cartoons Saturdays at 6AM. Admittedly not the same as it was 30 years back and I was watching stations carry those cartoons in morning/weekday afternoon slots across the country. I suppose those days are over.
Never did watch “Space Jam” at all, but by then I was already in college and had no time for those type of films but can recall whatever ‘popularity’ and ‘success’ it had, especially with the introduction of Lola Bunny. Do recall though in the recent “The Looney Tunes Show” Lola’s personality got dumb down a bit, but I suppose people still latch onto her anyway. Aside from her and Gadget from Rescue Rangers, don’t forget Animaniacs’ Minerva Mink (despite only being in two episodes) for giving the furry fandom some traction.
Aside from the voice casting that was adequate if not properly directed, I was amused to noticed some of the animation in this was farmed out to a small outfit here in Ohio called “Character Builders”. One of the founders of the studio was Jim Smith (creator of the Bone comic books). Somehow that impressed me at the time that such a studio could exist near me (though not in Toledo, this was near Columbus). They apparently handled all sorts of projects within the short live span of the place (though according to a few articles I’ve read, they were pretty small staff so the chance of me trying to get in would’ve been slim anyway). I guess the studio was finally disbanded 11 years ago but it seemed like a nice ride while it lasted even though they were working on stuff like Rover Dangerfield and Bebe’s Kids. There was apparently one animated short produced there that wasn’t too bad really.
Hearing a mention of Looney Tunes: Back In Action, I was flooded with rather painful memories of having to pay whatever to see it on the big screen and found it a tad obnoxious for my own tastes the way it was written. Obviously this was written like a Looney Tunes film should be, but it came off rather loose in the way it was executed with the live-action character mingling with the animated figures and how the story plays out (really, did we need a Wal-Mart in the desert?). The one moment that annoyed me was a scene involving the Brandon Fraser character having lost his pants through something stupid and basically steals ones from another character to wear for the meanwhile. What made it dumb to me was that the character was Papa Bear (of The Three Bears in some of Chuck Jones’ popular cartoons). That character never wore pants in any of those classics, yet for sake of convenience he had to wear a pair so that our main protagonist could get on to the next moment. It was at this moment I started re-writing the film in my head as I sometimes do while going to movies. In my mind, it was Junior Bear’s diapers that were the substitute. Instead of Maw having to conceal Paw’s shame in a banner, I see it as Junior cowering over his nakedness while Paw knocks sense into his noggin (in the usual literal way) stating “Shad-up, you hardly ever use ’em!” See, I can write this far better than who they paid on it! I wouldn’t really blame them if some of these guys aren’t too familiar with the characters at all but that was one bit that rubbed me the wrong way.
“You made an old cartoon fan feel very, very sad, Kat.”
She certainly breaks my 36 year old heart, and I had to beg my mom to get me the “Chuck Amuck” book when that came out back in ’89.
WTF? Was Katherin punking us, Paul? I haven’t heard the podcast yet, but she seriously doesn’t know who Chuck Jones was?
I would like to point out that Space Jam was not Joe Pytka’s first feature film as a director. His only other credit before that was a forgettable gambling comedy from 1989 called Let It Ride starring Richard Dreyfuss.
A few notes on the podcast, Paul. First of all, loved it. Terrible movie but great ‘cast. I grew up about an hour and a half of Chicago and have lived in Illinois my entire life, so anything Michael Jordan related was obviously big for me. This movie is a fictional account of his first retirement, parodying several elements of it. He initially retired after the 1993 season and returned at the end of the 1995-96 season.
In the 95-96 season, Jordan returned in March of 1996, debuting the number 45 instead of his iconic 23. The Bulls lost to the Orlando Magic and Shaquille O’Neal in the playoffs that year and the Magic went on to lose in the Finals against the Houston Rockets. Jordan, who obviously had a huge chip on his shoulder after being humbled in the playoffs, led the Bulls to a 72-10 record the next season, one of the greatest team accomplishments in NBA history. A team winning 50 games in the NBA is a big enough accomplishment in and of itself, but 72 is legendary. The ’96 Bulls are often mentioned alongside the greatest teams of any league in any sport in history.
Anyway, this movie debuted in November ’96, about eight months after Jordan’s return to the league. For a deeper look at Jordan’s time spent in the Chicago White Sox (my favorite baseball team, btw) minor league system (he played for the Birmingham Barons), check out the Ron Shelton documentary “Jordan Rides the Bus,” which is available on Netflix. It’s not Grade-A material, but interesting enough and it does a decent job at chronicling one of the stranger sports stories of our times. There are all kinds of conspiracy theories about Jordan’s time away from basketball. Some people legitimately believe that Jordan was banned for 2 years from basketball by then commissioner David Stern, allegedly due to Jordan’s infamous gambling problem (Jordan has openly admitted to losing millions of dollars gambling). Others, like me, simply believe the pressure of being the world’s greatest athlete as well as his father’s untimely death really affected Jordan, similar to how fame perhaps affected Dave Chappelle years later.
Whatever the case, this is a bad movie. It’s unpleasant and unfunny and even as a 14 year old I didn’t think it was passable entertainment. The unnamed white basketball player was Shawn Bradley, by the way. He’s best known for being incredibly lanky and awkward, and getting dunked on all the time because he wasn’t particularly athletic. Anyway, great podcast. Hope some of this filled in the gaps.
Jordan returned at the end of the 1994-95 season. The 95-96 season was his first full year back. Sorry about that.
Paul – here’s an article from today on the AV Club about Chuck Jones’s work at Warners that Katherin can read – http://www.avclub.com/article/unleashing-cartoon-anarchy-and-wacky-violence-loon-203404 .
I see someone had to bring up that old web site, thanks K-Money for reminding us that Warner Bros. just don’t care!
“Paul – here’s an article from today on the AV Club about Chuck Jones’s work at Warners that Katherin can read”
Might I suggest Chuck’s autobiographies too (Chuck Amuck and Chuck Reducks).
Yes, Absolutely, Chris! I just wanted to suggest something short, online and easily digestible to start – if Katherin’s interested, she can dig deeper.