Plot: What’s it about?
Swackhammer (voiced by Danny DeVito) runs the amusement park at Moron Mountain, and business hasn’t been that good as of late. As such, he has decided to add some new attraction in an effort to perk up business, and the attraction he wants are Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and the rest of the Looney Tunes gang. He sends his short and stumpy associates the Nerdlucks to acquire them, whether they agree or not. When they arrive Bugs thinks he can overtake them because of their small stature, but soon discovers they are packing some serious heat. Bugs gathers his thoughts and challenges the Nerdlucks to a contest to determine the freedom of the Looney Tunes. Due to the small size of the Nerdlucks, Bugs decides that basketball would an easy win for him and his friends. But the Nerdlucks have the last laugh when they steal the skills away from some NBA superstars and become masters of the court, renamed the Monstars. In a state of total desperation, an idea is hatched. Bugs and Daffy go into the real world to entice Michael Jordan to join their team, which could be just enough to overcome the odds. After some convincing Jordan agrees, but in order for him to play, he has to strike a deal with Swackhammer. If Jordan and his friends win then they all go free, but if they lose, then Jordan becomes a slave to Swackhammer and will be forced to work Moron Mountain forever.
This is a family oriented movie, so this review will treat it such. I will overlook plot holes, continuity errors, and all other problems, simply because this movie is a fun ride and is acceptable for viewers of all ages. While the rating is “PG” as opposed to the usual animated “G,” there isn’t much that’s scary or inappropriate for little ones. This isn’t rocket science by any means, so if you’re a cynic or need to analyze films in order to enjoy them, then move along because this isn’t the disc you’re looking for. When Warner first issued Space Jam it was a bare bones release, so I was hoping for a future re-release…and here it is! This disc retains the somewhat disappointing open matte full frame transfer, but does come equipped with some terrific extras, which makes it worth the upgrade. But I’ll talk about the disc later on, it’s on the feature film itself. This film combines the live action antics of several NBA stars as well as some normal actors with the cartoon world of the Looney Tunes, including even the most obscure of toons. While the effects and animation are not of Industrial Lights & Magic level, they work very well and are quite effective. I recommend this release to all those who love the Looney Tunes and also those in need to family fare, but make sure you pick up this special edition version and not the original barren release.
This film was directed by Joe Pytka, who is considered to be the finest director of commercials ever and has won a slew of awards in his career. While Pytka has only one other feature film to his credit, he manages to make it all happen with this film. This film offers certain challenges that normal films don’t, such as extensive animated characters and backgrounds, which I’m sure made the shoot a hectic and difficult one. Despite those obstacles and even more I am sure, Pytka has created a terrific and fun movie for all ages to enjoy. The lead in this film is played by Michael Jordan, former NBA star who portrays himself here. Mike makes a much better basketball player than actor, but he does handle himself well in this movie. He has some humorous lines and seems to have a lot of fun with his role. The other lead is Bugs Bunny, who is voiced here by Billy West and provides his usual array of hilarity. And I know she’s a cartoon rabbit and all…but Babs Bunny sure looks hot in that jersey! The rest of the cast includes Dennis Knight (Jurassic Park), Daffy Duck, Bill Murray (Groundhog Day), Elmer Fudd, Patrick Ewing, and many other NBA and Looney Tunes performers.
Video: How does it look?
Space Jam is presented in it’s cropped full-frame version. Now, there come an argument here…Warner is widely known for their commitment to DVD and adding supplements as well. On most every occasion, there is either a widescreen (anamorphic at that) version and a full frame version, but the widescreen is usually standard. This disc has no widescreen version, but it shown in it’s full-frame format only. Their logic is that it’s a children’s movie and the kids would be distracted by the black bars (assuming they had no widescreen TV). It makes sense to me, but I’m one who would rather see it as the director intended (and as we saw it in theaters). Still, the image is close to flawless, with fleshtones being very solid and detail being very good. The kids should have no complaints here, but it’s us adults who write the reviews…
Audio: How does it sound?
Space Jam is all about sound. The opening credits rock (literally) and had me very impressed to begin with. The dialogue is very clean and sounds very natural. If I’m not mistaken, the old LD was a 5.1 mix, so nothing was lost in the transfer to the “new” 5.1 mix. Surrounds are prevelant throughout the entire movie, and the movie’s soundtrack takes full advantage of the wide range of speakers. All in all, this is a very good sounding track, let your friends know by playing the opening credits for them. This will show off your system…
Supplements: What are the extras?
Space Jam was one of the first DVD’s on the market and now, as Warner (and other studios) have, gone back and made a special edition of it. Included in the extras is a full-length feature commentary with the director. He has two guests…Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. Usually I find that commentaries by Bugs and Daffy are kind of dull, bit this one had some kick to it (only kidding). A nice touch, but I wonder considering Warner’s focus towards the younger audience, how many kids would be interested in it? Also included is some DVD ROM content, the usual cast bios, production notes and a theatrical trailer. Also included is a feature that I love, an isolated score. We also find three music videos, one by R. Kelly (I Believe I can Fly) and another by Seal (a remake of Steve Miller’s “Fly Like an Eagle”), these highlight the movie’s score and are a treat to have on the disc. Overall, if you’re a fan of this movie, then you have everything you wanted…except a widescreen version of the film.