Nearly 18 years ago, when Kristin was 11 and Sam was 6, the greatest basketball player in the world — Michael Jordan — joined forces on the big screen with the Looney Tunes gang in one of the most loved films of the 1990s — Space Jam. But one must ask: Is a film where a retired basketball star stuck in minor league baseball who gets recruited to play on a basketball team with a bunch of Looney Tunes characters in order to save said characters from being enslaved by aliens running a theme park actually a good movie? We decided to re-watch it in order to figure it out.
These were our thoughts before we started watching…
Kristin: I don’t think either of us have ever watched this movie as sober adults, right?
Sam: It was playing at a bar I was at a few weeks ago (random!) So I think it’s been what like, 18 years since I last watched it when it first came out? I mean, to put things in perspective, Clinton was president and I was in kindergarten the last time I saw this movie.
Kristin: I watched the beginning of it a few weeks ago, but I was pretty hammered, and it made NO SENSE. But maybe it was because I was drunk?
Sam: No, it’s INSANE. I saw five minutes at the bar and was like, this makes absolutely ZERO sense. And I was buzzed, not even drunk.
Kristin: But it’s still a good movie! How is that possible?
Sam: I feel like it doesn’t just break cinematic conventions, it just blatantly ignores them. It is a hot mess through and through. But it’s a true seminal classic of our childhood.
Kristin: It’s the best worst movie ever.
Sam: Or maybe the worst best movie ever.
Kristin: Maybe this movie isn’t as ridiculous as I remember it being.
Kristin: I totally forgot that this movie starts off with Michael Jordan as a kid trying to please his dad.
Sam: See, this is like a normal start to a sports movie. You wouldn’t know a shit storm of animation is about to screw things up. I mean, all he wants to do is play at UNC. There is no mention of playing against an intergalactic team of aliens.
Kristin: Also, that kid makes a ton of baskets, but they never actually show him making a single basket. They just keep cutting away. Was this actual kid that bad at basketball?
Sam: PLOT TWIST: Michael’s quitting to go play baseball.
Kristin: This is possibly the first time a ridiculous plot twist like “I quit basketball… TO PLAY BASEBALL!” was based on a true story.
Kristin: Also, it looks like they are doing this press conference live from a funeral home.
Sam: I mean, he did just kill his basketball career to play minor league baseball in some podunk town.
Sam: Meanwhile, on another planet …
Kristin: LOL, meanwhile, IN A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT MOVIE.
Sam: DANNY DEVITO!
Kristin: When you think about it, Danny DeVito is the perfect villain for this movie because physically speaking he is basically the anti-basketball player.
Kristin: Also, WTF? WHY IS THAT ONE ALIEN LICKING DANNY DEVITO’S SANDALS?
Sam: I get some people have a foot fetish, but that is some nasty shit. Like, use a soap and a towel? Maybe it’s the inner germaphobe in me but I feel like there are more effective ways to clean someone’s feet. Or like, Danny DeVito could just wear shoes.
Sam: Honestly, the main question I keep asking myself in this movie is whether or not this a whole PR stunt for his baseball career?
Kristin: I like how MJ was such a dominant force of nature that the only way to make him an underdog was to literally stick him in a different sport.
Sam: Like, was this movie some sort of apology or explanation for why he quit basketball to pursue a career in baseball?
Kristin: Why is the opposing team’s catcher helping MJ? I also like how one of MJ’s “problems” is that everyone is too nice to him about being bad at baseball. And he just kind of rolls his eyes at them like the boss bitch that he is. AND WE STILL LOVE HIM FOR IT.
Sam: WAYNE KNIGHT. NEWMAN.
Kristin: Wayne Knight has third billing in this movie. We are officially in that weird period in the 90s when Wayne Knight is a hotter part of the zeitgeist than Bill Murray, who is also in this movie.
Sam: Wayne Knight also starred in Jurassic Park. What a career. He’s truly a treasure of American cinema.
Kristin: Also, apparently you can just fall into a dugout at a minor league game.
Sam: And meet the world’s most famous athlete.
Kristin: This is pre-9/11 America, right here.
Kristin: That spaceship just rolled by and everyone in the stands was just sort of like, that’s cool. This movie has no rules.
Sam: The first rule about Space Jam is that there are no rules.
Sam, turning to Kristin, very matter-of-factly: You know, I don’t think those are his real kids OR his real wife.
Kristin: You can tell because he’s being super attentive towards them.
Sam IMDB’s Space Jam: Nope, none of these people are really his family! Michael Jordan totally went all Hollywood on us.
Kristin: Gotta love the Budweiser product placement all over the kids movie.
Sam: The only downside is you can’t legally get a Bud Light with your Happy Meal.
Kristin: Seriously, can no one see this crazy basketball talents stealing goo thing?
Sam: This was before HD.
Patrick Ewing has his “talents” sucked dry by the aliens, and lets a basketball hit him in the face.
Sam: Ewing is drunk.
Kristin: I love how these players are so talented in real life that the only way they can pretend like they’re untalented is for them to just stop moving.
Kristin: WOW, THAT WAS FIVE BRANDS IN ONE SENTENCE.
Sam: How much product placement can we hit you over the head with?
Kristin: Also, Michael Jordan is topless again. Holding a McDonald’s cup.
Sam: Seriously, there are so many slow shots of his abs in this movie! Looney Tunes is strangely homoerotic.
Kristin: What is this weird membrane-like barrier at the end of the tunnel between our world and the Looney Tunes world? It’s like the spaceship is breaking the Looney Tunes’ world’s hymen.
Sam: At six years old, I was definitely not thinking about that. Actually, right now I really wasn’t thinking about that either.
Sam: OMG Bill Murray golfing with Larry Bird and Michael Jordan. Also, what happened to the baseball?
Kristin: Seriously, MJ spends as much time playing golf as he does playing baseball in this movie. Maybe that is the reason why he is struggling.
Sam: Also, digging Bill Murray’s umbrella hat. LOL, Bill Murray: “Larry [Bird] is not white, Larry’s clear.”
Kristin: I DID NOT catch that at all when we were kids.
Sam: Sophisticated humor! Who says this is a bad movie?
Kristin: Literally no one has ever said this is a bad movie. I have never talked to anyone who has ever not liked this movie.
Sam: One of the most ICONIC cinema kisses of all time.
Kristin: I believe it’s one of the first major on-screen same-sex kisses.
Sam: OOOOF. His ear canals are GROSS. Someone has to get a Q-Tip up in there ASAP.
Kristin: Why is there a paper clip in there?
Kristin: I feel like the real MJ would be significantly more pissed than this over being kidnapped.
Sam: LOVE how that is Michael Jordan’s answer as to why he can’t help the Looney Tunes win their basketball game in order to save themselves from being enslaved: “because baseball!”
Kristin: Seriously, MJ? You’ve spent almost the same amount of time eating McDonald’s in your hotel room as you have playing baseball in this movie. I don’t think you like baseball that much.
Kristin: Look at how sad Charles Barkley is!
Sam: Truly iconic. Why isn’t Sad Charles Barkley a meme?
Kristin: He looks comatose enough where even 1996 kids don’t want to play with him. And 1996 kids are basically his target audience.
Sam: He is totally destroyed mentally and physically. They could make an entire movie about Charles Barkley trying to put together the pieces of his shattered psyche.
Kristin: I know he gets his basketball “powers” back at the end of this movie, but hilariously enough, Charles’ skills took a real turn for the worse the season after this was filmed.
Sam: Bugs Bunny is so horny. He is the thirstiest animated rabbit in the world.
Kristin: Yeah, I sort of forgot that about halfway through this movie Bugs sort of stops caring about winning this basketball game.
Sam, after Bugs totally freezes up straight in arousal: Wait … was that what I think it was? Was that a boner joke?
Kristin: That was. That was a boner joke.
Kristin: Haha, I like how Michael’s pep talk is just “Let’s just have some fun out there.”
Sam: It’s not like there is potential eternal slavery on an alien planet at stake here or anything.
Sam: Also, THIS. SOUNDTRACK.
Kristin: Quad City DJs= voice of a generation. How did it not win an Oscar?
Kristin goes back and looks up who actually got an Academy Award that year for Best Original Song: EVITA WON? Whatever. Can anything from Evita be mashed-up with any possible song in the universe? I don’t think so. No.
Sam: Wow, Space Jam wasn’t even nominated. I’m calling bullshit. It was robbed!
Kristin: LOL, I love how they all just willingly taking “Michael’s Secret Stuff” even though it basically affects them like steroids.
Sam: Bugs Bunny is on a scooter on the basketball court. I’m pretty sure that isn’t in the NBA’s rulebook.
Kristin: So they’re cheating. They’re going to win this game through steroids and cheating. AND YET I AM STILL ROOTING FOR THEM.
Sam: Well, it’s either the band of adorable cheating misfits or the roided-up intergalactic bullies.
Sam: HOLD THE PHONE. We have Bill Murray in the building. I repeat, Bill Murray to the rescue!
Kristin: Yes. So much yes.
Sam: He is an American institution. Not to mention he is totally rocking the shirt-under-the-jersey look. So 90s of him. Also, I love how he’s like “I don’t do defense.” Of course you don’t, Bill. You’re a Ghostbuster, you can do whatever the hell you want.
Kristin: This is an iconic sports moment, right here. This should be on a postage stamp.
Sam: I know he has mad ups, but he was not even at half court when he jumped to make the shot. BUT NO ONE, not even a team of Monstars can stop him! DO WE BELIEVE IN MIRACLES?
Sam: This was a big deal in 1996. And it’s a big deal in 2014. One of the greatest upsets in sporting history, and it never even happened.
Sam: Wait, I’m just noticing this now. Why didn’t the Monstars send Danny DeVito away in a rocket at the beginning of the movie? Wouldn’t that have saved them a lot of time and perspiration on the basketball court?
Kristin: Because then Michael wouldn’t have rediscovered that he is the greatest basketball player on the planet.
Sam: (Nods head and goes back to watching the movie.)
Sam: There is NO WAY this movie was not a PR stunt! How else do you get the greatest athlete in the world and the most vicious competitor in all of sports to act against a green screen for an hour and a half?
Kristin: Back up the Brink’s truck in front of his house and just start dumping money?
Sam: The only way MJ’s story has a happy ending is if we sweep the whole baseball thing under the rug. Still: This movie is life changing.
Kristin: I know in my heart that he is not the nicest person and competitive as all get out and yet I still think Michael Jordan is the best. THAT IS THE POWER OF SPACE JAM.