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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