Twenty years ago, the world beheld the greatest onscreen duo of all time. Not Bogey & Bacall, Abbot & Costello, or even Batman & Robin. No, I’m talking about Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny. Sunday evening, I took my son to the Fathom Events screening of the 20th Anniversary of Space Jam. The film debuted twenty years ago this week when I was a spry 14 years old. My then 4-year old sister LOVED this movie and nearly wore out the VHS tape we had… yes, we owned the VHS.
The minute the film starts I am transported back to 1996, listening to R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly.” As an adult watching Space Jam with his son who loves the NBA, it was so gratifying seeing the great players of my era again. For those who somehow missed this classic mash-up of real life and animation, a group of cartoon aliens try to kidnap Bugs and his friends to their interstellar amusement park. A winner takes all basketball game is set up, but the aliens steal NBA players’ talent in order to become “Monstars”. This leads to the recruitment of then baseball playing Jordan to help Bugs, Daffy, Elmer Fudd, and the rest of the gang.
Alongside Michael Jordan, along for the ride are Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Shawn Bradley, Mugsy Bogues and Larry Johnson. You can tell they are having so much fun playing silly versions of their real life personas… especially Charles Barkley who was and still is a brash loudmouth never afraid to speak his mind. Director Joe Pytka and his team of writers obviously knew they weren’t getting Oscar winners here, but the players do the best they can with their material. The casting outside of the players is perfect. Bill Murray doesn’t need a script and tosses in some terrific in-jokes. Towards the end Daffy Duck asks, “How’d you get here?” to which Murray replies that he knows the producer… Ivan Reitman, who directed plenty of early Murray films including Ghostbusters. Joining Murray is Wayne Knight who was popular in ’96 as Newman on Seinfeld, and Theresa Randle as Jordan’s wife.
This is a perfect way to have fun with your kids. They’ll enjoy the cast of Warner Brothers classic cartoon characters and you’ll be so stuck in nostalgia mode you won’t have time to realize how really not good the movie is. Plus, the soundtrack is worth the price of admission anyway. The film, presented by Fathom Events features an animated short before hand, “I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Cat” featuring Sylvester and Tweety. You can catch Space Jam just one more day, tomorrow, Wednesday, November 16th at 2:00pm and 7:00pm ET. Go to Fathom Events for theaters near you.
Space Jam (1996) Official Trailer – Michael Jordan, Bill Murray Movie HD