Space Jam, a live-action/animation hybrid, makes its arrival on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray to celebrate the film’s 25th anniversary.
Prior to Space Jam, most Looney Tunes features were just compilation pieces merged into one. This certainly isn’t the case here as the film features a complete story arc. It’s not so easy to blend live-action with animation but they manage to get the job done. We have live actors existing in the toon world and vice versa. This is before CGI really took over the production of animated films so we’re looking at hand-drawn animation. Even for 1996 animation standards, the hybrid holds up on that account. It certainly makes me wonder to see how things improve with CGI technology for the 2021 sequel.
The film’s opening prologue starts out with young Michael Jordan practicing his game and telling his dad all his career plans. From there, a montage takes us to the present day where Michael announces his NBA retirement. You know what happens next. He decides to play baseball and that’s where are action begins. Over in outer space, Mr. Swackhammer’s (Danny DeVito) Moron Mountain is in need of new attractions. His minions, the Nerdlucks, are sent to first capture the Looney Tunes. But when Bugs Bunny and company challenges them to a game of basketball, the Nerdlucks start stealing the talent from several star NBA players. To give themselves any kind of a chance, Bugs also manages to kidnap Michael Jordan.
A number of NBA players are in the cast as are Larry Bird and Bill Murray. Several NBA players, coaches, and broadcasters make cameo appearances. Bird was already retired by this point so he doesn’t get affected when NBA players start losing their talent. It’s funny to watch Murray think he can play in the NBA once the star players lose their talent.
While the effects are certainly one of the most impressive aspects when looking through the lens in which it was made, we have to discuss the things that don’t age well. R. Kelly is one of the biggest factors. “I Believe I Can Fly” may have been a hit that earned two Grammy Awards but he is currently incarcerated after being arrested for federal charges in 2019. Another is Pepé Le Pew. Because of rape culture, he will not be appearing in the sequel. The film also emphasizes Lola Bunny’s feminine attributes and she’s also getting a new look for the sequel. Her new design will also be desexualized, too.
Space Jam boasts technical achievements with its live-action/animation hybrid approach and has some solid humor even if some jokes don’t age particularly well.
- Commentary from director Joe Pytka, Bugs Bunny (voiced by Billy West) and Daffy Duck (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) (4K/Blu-ray)
- Featurette: “Jammin” with Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan
- Music videos including Seal’s “Fly Like an Eagle” and Monstars’ anthem “Hit ‘Em High”
DIRECTOR: Joe Pytka
SCREENWRITERS: Leo Benvenuti & Steve Rudnick and Timothy Harris & Herschel Weingrod
CAST: Michael Jordan, Bugs Bunny, Wayne Knight, Theresa Randle, Charles Barkley, Muggsy Bogues, Shawn Bradley, Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, and the voice of Danny DeVito