Space Jam - * 1/2*

Space Jam

There’s surprisingly little amusement in this mixed animation-live action basketball flick. The story begins with an alien amusement park, Moron Mountain, run by the evil alien capitalist Swackhammer (voiced by Danny DeVito). His park is falling apart, and he decides he needs new attractions, and the Looney Tunes would be just the type of act he needs. He sends a team of five short, wimpy aliens to capture and enslave the cartoons. Bugs and co., of course, aren’t too keen on the idea, and manage to convince the aliens to let them compete in a basketball game for their fates. The aliens, up to dirty tricks, agree, and proceed to siphon the talent from several basketball players (including Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing), becoming the monstrous Mon-stars. The Looney Tunes then decide to enlist the then-retired Michael Jordan to compete on their side. Although the film is mixed live-action and animation, director Joe Pytka doesn’t seem on solid ground in the real world. At times, there’s humorous potential in some of the scenes, but Pytka’s sense of pacing just isn’t made for the real world, and he lets these scenes drag out. As for the animated scenes, some of them work, but most of the time the looney tunes just don’t do anything looney. For the most part, they simply seem dreadfully earnest, or, during the basketball game, angrilly determined. I mean, have them do something funny, rather than just stare with wide-eyed amazement at Michael, or sneer at the bad guys as they pull a slam dunk. Do we really want to see Tweety in an iron lung? Well, depending on your tastes, maybe…but it just doesn’t fit the whole Looney Tunes mood. None of the Looney Tunes is put to good use in the film (although Daffy Duck does get a few grins here and there)… it’s amazing that a three minute cartoon short can have more laughs and character development than a 90-minute movie. As far as the basketball goes, the movie would probably have been better served by letting Michael just shoot for 90 minutes straight. The whole game is simplified to about the level of a slam dunk highlight reel. There is no excitement, and with the conclusion a given, little suspense beyond which toon is going to get his chance to dunk the ball next. The animation in the film is nothing spectacular. The animators don’t seem to have any more tricks up their sleeves than when Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was made, and in fact, some of the animated scenes seem even cruder. Well, given that the whole movie is derived from the Bugs Bunny-Michael Jordan “Hare Jordan” Nike commercials of a few years back, Space Jam is about what you can expect from a movie based on a commercial.

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