SPACE JAM is a 1996 American live-action/animated sports comedy film
starring basketball player
Michael Jordan and featuring the Looney
Tunes cartoon characters. The film was produced by
Ivan Reitman , and
Joe Pytka , with
Bruce W. Smith ,
Korey Coleman , Spike
Tony Cervone directing the animation.
Nigel Miguel was a
basketball technical advisor .
Released theatrically by
Warner Bros. under the Family Entertainment
label on November 15, 1996, the film presents a fictional alternate
history of what happened between Jordan's initial retirement from the
NBA in 1993 and his comeback in 1995, in which he becomes embroiled in
Bugs Bunny and his friends.
Space Jam opened at No. 1
in the US and grossed over $230 million worldwide, becoming the
highest-grossing basketball film of all-time. The film marks the first
appearance of new
Looney Tunes character
Lola Bunny .
* 1 Plot
* 2 Cast
* 2.1 Voices
* 3 Music
* 4 Merchandise
* 4.1 Video games
* 4.2 Home media
* 4.3 Toys
* 5 Reception
* 5.1 Critical response
* 5.2 Box office
* 5.3 Accolades
* 6 In other media
* 7 Sequel
* 8 References
* 9 External links
On a summer night in 1973, a young
Michael Jordan is practicing
basketball . His father steps out and tells him it's bedtime, but lets
him make a few more shots. Jordan shoots while making several wishes
like going to the University of North Carolina , playing on a
championship team, joining the NBA , going on to play baseball, and
successfully scores every shot. Impressed, Jordan's father jokingly
asks if next he is going to wish he could fly, and Jordan turns to
make one final shot.
In 1993, Jordan announces his retirement from professional basketball
to follow his now deceased father's career as a baseball player.
However, it becomes evident that he is not as skilled in baseball as
he was in basketball. Jordan is assigned a publicist and assistant,
the bumbling Stan Podolak, to make his new career less bumpy.
Elsewhere, in outer space, an intergalactic amusement park called
Moron Mountain faces dwindling popularity, so its owner, Mr.
Swackhammer, sends his diminutive minions, the Nerdlucks, to capture
Looney Tunes as new entertainment. The
Looney Tunes live in an
animated world called "
Looney Tunes Land" hidden in the center of the
Earth, but ignore the Nerdlucks' threats and challenge them to a game
The Nerdlucks steal the talents of professional basketball players
Charles Barkley ,
Shawn Bradley ,
Patrick Ewing , Larry Johnson and
Muggsy Bogues , leaving them incapable of playing. The Nerdlucks
absorb the talent, transforming into the gigantic "Monstars" who
easily intimidate the Looney Tunes. While playing golf with Bill
Larry Bird and Stan, Jordan is sucked down a hole and is
Bugs Bunny to help the Tunes win against the Monstars.
Jordan at first refuses, saying he does not play basketball anymore,
but changes his decision after he is insulted and humiliated by the
Monstars when they call him "baldy". He then sends Bugs and Daffy Duck
to his house to retrieve his basketball gear.
Meanwhile, Stan has been digging out the golf hole to find Jordan,
but spots Bugs and Daffy leaping down another one and pursues them,
reuniting with Jordan in the Tunes' world and joins their team, the
Tune Squad. Another new recruit is
Lola Bunny , a skilled basketball
player whom Bugs falls in love with. On the day of the match, the
Monstars dominate the first half, leaving the Looney Tunes
unconfident. Stan overhears a conversation between the Monstars and
Swackhammer, learning of how they gained their talent and informs
Jordan and the Tune Squad. Bugs and Jordan convince the rest of the
Tune Squad to fight back and the first quarter of the second half
allows the Tunes to catch up using old school gags and Acme weaponry .
During a timeout, Jordan raises the stakes of the game with
Swackhammer: a win by the Tune Squad would require the Monstars to
surrender their stolen talents, while a Monstars win would win
Swackhammer Jordan as a new attraction.
To ensure his victory, Swackhammer has the Monstars play rough and
injure all of the Tune Squad until only Jordan, Bugs, Daffy, Lola and
Stan are left. Stan becomes the fifth player and manages to score, but
is literally flattened by the Monstars and is removed from the court
to be inflated. The referee,
Marvin the Martian , informs Jordan that
unless the team gets a fifth player, they will have to forfeit the
game, at which point Murray appears and volunteers to be the team's
fifth member. In the final seconds of the game, Jordan gains the ball
and manages to use cartoon physics to extend his arm and score the
winning points. Murray retires from the sport and the Monstars blast
Swackhammer to the Moon in a rocket when Jordan makes them realize
that they do not have to take his abuse anymore. Jordan convinces them
to give up the stolen talents, and the
Looney Tunes agree to recruit
the reformed Nerdlucks in their ensemble. Jordan and a recovered Stan
return to the surface, the Nerdlucks dropping them off at Jordan's
next baseball game. Later on, the two visit the incapacitated
basketball players and return their talent. The players invite Jordan
to a three-on-three match, but when he declines, they question his
loss of talent. In 1995, Jordan returns to the
Chicago Bulls to resume
his basketball career.
Michael Jordan as himself, an NBA shooting guard for the Chicago
Bulls who retires to pursue a career in baseball .
Brandon Hammond portrays a younger Jordan.
Wayne Knight as Stanley "Stan" Podolak, a publicist and assistant
who helps Michael Jordan.
Theresa Randle as Juanita Jordan, Michael's supportive wife.
Bill Murray as himself, an actor and Jordan's friend.
Larry Bird as himself, the
Boston Celtics forward and Jordan's
Charles Barkley as himself, the
Phoenix Suns power forward who
gets his talent stolen by Pound.
Patrick Ewing as himself, the
New York Knicks
New York Knicks center who gets his
talent stolen by Bang.
Shawn Bradley as himself, the
Philadelphia 76ers center who gets
his talent stolen by Blanko.
* Larry Johnson as himself, the
Charlotte Hornets power forward who
gets his talent stolen by Bupkus.
Muggsy Bogues as himself, the Hornets point guard who gets his
talent stolen by Nawt.
Thom Barry as
James R. Jordan, Sr. , Michael's father.
Penny Bae Bridges as Jasmine Jordan, Michael's daughter.
Dan Castellaneta and
Patricia Heaton as basketball fans.
Billy West as
Bugs Bunny and
Dee Bradley Baker
Dee Bradley Baker as
Daffy Duck , Tasmanian Devil and Toro
Bob Bergen as
Marvin the Martian ,
Porky Pig ,
Tweety Bird , Hubie
Bill Farmer as
Foghorn Leghorn ,
Yosemite Sam and Sylvester the
Maurice LaMarche as
Pepé Le Pew
Pepé Le Pew
June Foray as Granny
Kath Soucie as
Lola Bunny , a female rabbit who plays for the Tune
Squad. Lola is a new character introduced in this film.
* Frank W. Welker as Charles, Michael's pet bulldog who menaces both
Bugs and Daffy when they are in Michael's house.
Danny DeVito as Mr. Swackhammer, the proprietor of the
intergalactic theme park "Moron Mountain" who seeks new attractions to
save his failing business.
* Colleen Wainwright as
Sniffles , a tiny mouse.
* Pound, the orange leader of the Nerdlucks, is voiced by Jocelyn
Blue as a Nerdluck and Darnell Suttles as a Monstar.
* Bang, the belligerent green Nerdluck, is voiced by June Melby as a
Joey Camen as a Monstar.
* Bupkus, the giggly and crazy purple Nerdluck, is voiced by
Catherine Reitman as a Nerdluck and
Dorian Harewood as a Monstar.
* Blanko, the dim-witted and gangly blue Nerdluck, is voiced by
Charity James as a Nerdluck and Steve Kehela as a Monstar.
* Nawt, the diminutive and clever red Nerdluck, is voiced by Colleen
Wainwright as a Nerdluck and
T. K. Carter as a Monstar.
Space Jam (soundtrack)
The soundtrack sold enough albums to be certified as 6x Platinum. It
also served as a high point for musical artist
R. Kelly , whose song
I Believe I Can Fly " not only was a hit, but earned him two Grammy
Awards. Other tracks included a cover of
Steve Miller Band
Steve Miller Band 's "Fly
Like an Eagle " (by Seal ), "Hit \'Em High (The Monstars\' Anthem) "
Busta Rhymes ,
LL Cool J
LL Cool J , and
Method Man ),
Basketball Jones " (by
Barry White ">
Looney Tunes director Chuck
Jones heavily criticized Space Jam.
On the critical response aggregation website
Rotten Tomatoes , the
film holds a rating of 37%, based on 52 reviews, with an average
rating of 5.1/10. The site's consensus reads, "A harmless mishmash of
basketball and animation that'll entertain kids but leave adults less
than thrilled." On
Metacritic , it has a score of 59 out of 100, based
on 22 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Roger Ebert of the
Chicago Sun-Times gave
Space Jam a thumbs up, as
Gene Siskel of the
Chicago Tribune , although his zeal was more
subdued. In his print review, Ebert gave the film 3 1/2 stars,
Space Jam is a happy marriage of good ideas—three films for
the price of one, giving us a comic treatment of the career adventures
of Michael Jordan, crossed with a
Looney Tunes cartoon and some
showbiz warfare. ... the result is delightful, a family movie in the
best sense (which means the adults will enjoy it, too)." Siskel
focused much of his praise on Jordan's performance, saying, "He wisely
accepted as a first movie a script that builds nicely on his genial
personality in an assortment of TV ads. The sound bites are just a
Leonard Maltin also gave the film a positive review
(three stars), stating, "Jordan is very engaging, the vintage
characters perform admirably ... and the computer-generated special
effects are a collective knockout."
Todd McCarthy of Variety praised
the film for its humor. He also praised the Looney Tunes' antics and
Janet Maslin of
The New York Times
The New York Times criticized the film's
animation, she later went on to say that the film is a "fond tribute
to past." Michael Wilmington of the
Chicago Tribune complained about
some aspects of the movie, stating, "...we don't get the co-stars'
best stuff. Michael doesn't soar enough. The
Looney Tunes don't
pulverize us the way they did when
Chuck Jones ,
Friz Freleng or Bob
Clampett were in charge." Yet overall, he also liked the film, giving
it 3 stars and saying: "Is it cute? Yes. Is it a crowd-pleaser? Yup.
Is it classic? Nope. (Though it could have been.)"
TV Guide gave the
movie only two stars, calling it a "cynical attempt to cash in on the
Warner Bros. cartoon characters and basketball player
Michael Jordan, inspired by a Nike commercial." Margaret A. McGurk of
The Cincinnati Enquirer gave the film 2 1/2 stars, saying, "Technical
spectacle amounts do nothing without a good story."
Veteran Looney Tunes/
Merrie Melodies director
Chuck Jones was highly
critical of the film. In a 1998 interview, he expressed his views that
the film was "terrible" and said, as a man who worked with the
characters for almost thirty years, the story was deeply flawed. "I
can tell you, with the utmost confidence," he said, "
Porky Pig would
never say 'I think I wet myself.'" Jones also added that, had the film
been more true to the source material,
Bugs Bunny would not have
enlisted the help of Jordan or the other
Looney Tunes characters to
defeat the Monstars "and moreover, it wouldn't have taken him an hour
and a half. Those aliens, whether they were tiny or colossal, would've
been dealt with in short order come the seven minute mark."
Space Jam was a box office success. At the end of its run, it grossed
approximately $90.4 million in the United States and an estimated
$230–$250 million internationally. As of July 2017, Box Office
Mojo ranks it as the highest grossing basketball film of all time.
The film made its television premiere on ABC 's The Wonderful World
of Disney on November 14, 1999.
* 1997 ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards
* WON: Most Performed Songs from Motion Pictures (
Diane Warren for
the song "For You I Will ")
* WON: Top Box Office Films (
James Newton Howard
James Newton Howard )
* WON: Best Individual Achievement: Technical Achievement
* Nomination: Best Animated Feature
* Nomination: Best Individual Achievement: Directing in a Feature
Bruce W. Smith and
Tony Cervone )
* Nomination: Best Individual Achievement: Producing in a Feature
Production (Ron Tippe)
* WON: Best Song Written Specifically for Motion Picture or for
R. Kelly for the song "
I Believe I Can Fly ")
MTV Movie Awards
* Nomination: Best Movie Song (
R. Kelly for the song "I Believe I
Can Fly ")
* Nomination: Best Motion Picture- Animated or Mixed Media (Daniel
Joe Medjuck ,
Ivan Reitman )
* 1997 World Animation Celebration
* WON: Best Use of Animation in a Motion Picture Trailer
Young Artist Awards
Young Artist Awards
* Nomination: Best Family Feature- Animation or
IN OTHER MEDIA
The Monstars make a cameo in the
Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain
episode "Star Warners" (a parody of
Star Wars ). Jordan himself, who
was a spokesman for
MCI Communications before the film was made, would
appear with the
Looney Tunes characters (as "his
Space Jam buddies")
in several MCI commercials for several years after the film was
released before MCI merged with WorldCom and subsequently Verizon
Communications . Bugs had previously appeared with Jordan as "Hare
Jordan" in Nike ads for the
Air Jordan VII and
Air Jordan VIII. In
2013, Yahoo! Screen released a parody of
30 for 30 about the
game shown in the film. The short dates the game as taking place on
November 17, 1995, although Jordan's real-life return to basketball
occurred on March 18.
In a November 2016 interview with Mr. Wavvy,
Space Jam director Joe
Pytka revealed that following the first film's success, he had been
pitched a "really weird" idea for a sequel that would have starred pro
Tiger Woods , with Jordan in a smaller role. Pytka explained
how the idea came from an out of studio script conference, with people
who worked on the original film allegedly involved. Ultimately,
nothing materialised from the idea. Producer Ivan Reitman
participated in similar interview with Mr. Wavvy, also in November
2016, in which he also revealed an idea he had for a sequel, though
his sequel would have starred Jordan.
In February 2014,
Warner Bros. announced a potential sequel set to
LeBron James . Charlie Ebersol was set to produce, with a script
by his brother, Willie. Representatives of James denied the claim
that he would be involved. In May 2014, James was quoted as saying,
"I've always loved Space Jam. It was one of my favorite movies growing
up. If I have the opportunity, it will be great." In July 2015, James
and his production company, SpringHill Entertainment, signed a deal
Warner Bros. for television, movies and digital content after
receiving positive reviews for his acting role in Trainwreck . On
May 2, 2016,
Justin Lin was said to be in talks to direct the sequel;
co-writing the screenplay with Andrew Dodge and Alfredo Botello. In
August 2016, the Sneaker Bar Detroit company said that the movie is
still in the works. On November 15, 2016, the film's anniversary, a
teaser trailer, in the form of a Nike advertisement, was released on
Twitter under #MonstarsBack. On December 1, 2016,
Bugs Bunny and the
Monstars returned in a Foot Locker commercial starring Blake Griffin
and Jimmy Butler .
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