Space Jam

Dir: Joe Pytka
Star: Michael Jordan, Wayne Knight, Bill Murray, Danny DeVito

Okay, I confess: I enjoyed this far more than expected. Sure, it's crass and commercial, Michael Jordan is no actor, it's about basketball, my least favourite of the big American sports, and the human-toon interaction isn't a patch on Who Framed Roger Rabbit. And yet, it is still thoroughly entertaining. There are enough lines for the adults (such as Bugs Bunny's "What kind of a Mickey Mouse outfit would name their team the Ducks?") to make you forgive its flaws, even without Bill Murray's brilliant uncredited deadpanning.

The 'plot' centers around a basketball game, in which Bugs Bunny + friends play the Mon-Stars, with the Looney Toons' freedom at stake. The Mon-Stars have sucked the talent from various NBA stars (including Charles Barkley, who subsequently promises God he'll never go out with Madonna again!); as a counter, the Toons recruit Jordan from his life in the baseball minor-leagues. While there's never any doubt who'll win, the road there is fun, and surprisingly violent by modern cartoon standard - the fate of Sniffles the mouse, making his first cinematic appearance in 50+ years, merited several rewinds.

The inevitable product placement is done with tongue in cheek, and another pleasant surprise was the jabs Jordan made at himself; he really was mediocre at baseball, and took almost four months to hit a home run, even playing two levels below the majors. Compared to recent dire attempts at combining animation + live-action (for some reason, most of which star Brendan Fraser), this sticks to the basics of bright, loud and busy, and is a great deal better for its simplicity.

June 2004

Not bad. Just drawn that way.
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