Space Jam: the movie we can’t forget

20 years later we still need more Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Tune Squad

via YouTube

It’s been 20 years since Michael Jordan did something people thought was impossible — saved Looney Tunes. 

When Jordan retired from basketball for the first time in 1993, because he lost his motivation for the game, people thought he was crazy.

But during his 1995 comeback, he shot Space Jam — a movie about an alternate version to his comeback to basketball. What athlete in their right mind would take time away from practicing to star in a half-animated, half-live action movie with the Looney Tunes?

Only the greatest athlete in the world.  

More importantly than being a box-office gold mine, this animated movie inspired the kids of its generation. And it’s for that reason that I believe it has stood the test of time. 

Space Jam has transcended both time and space to remain on our minds two decades after its release. 

How is it that a movie made up of cartoon characters and the G.O.A.T (Greatest Of All Time) of basketball stand the test of time? Because it’s about more than basketball.

Even though people might forget the exact plot and the actors may now be obscure  — don’t worry Bill Murray we still love you — to me, the takeaways from the film are still relevant. 

The Monstars — a group of aliens from Moron Mountain — steal the talent of the NBA’s best players at the time, becoming almost super creatures who intimidate Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Tune Squad. 

For many of us, this was the first time we encountered the idea of a bully and were taught how to deal with them. Rather than back away, we were taught that success is the best revenge.

Although Jordan’s acting might be sub-par at best, pairing a sports hero with our old Saturday morning companions makes the movie a story in which anyone can triumph.

Lola Bunny is the perfect example of this. Although not originally accepted on the team, when she makes Bugs Bunny look like a fool on the court, her line, “don’t ever call me doll,” represents one of the first times I encountered a strong female character.  

I was never much of a cartoon watcher as a kid, but whether they were providing comedic relief or battling the villains, these characters stand the test of time because their familiarity unites a group of twenty-somethings who still get goosebumps when they hear ‘I Believe I Can Fly.’

I might be a bit dramatic here, but in times of despair, all they had was hope and “Michael’s Secret Stuff”.

The soundtrack has also stood up to multiple replays. Travelling to the United States for vacation, I would always force my family to listen to the soundtrack on loop. Those closest to me might hate it, but I never get tired of ‘Fly Like An Eagle’. 

Although the ending is farfetched — with Michael Jordan’s arm stretching the length of the court to win — it’s a classic example of good triumphing over evil.

Space Jam is beyond the scope of the imagination. I could go on for a long time, and I have, about how the formula of a cartoon bunny, a redeemed group of aliens and the greatest athlete on earth makes me believe in the impossible. 

But I won’t, because Jordan says it best. At the end of the basketball game, he tells the Looney Tunes, “Thanks guys, you got a lot of... a lot of... well, whatever it is, you got a lot of it.” 

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