Monday, 6 January 2014

Space Jam (1996)

Not too sure why this film is called Space Jam but I guess it sounds kinda cool doesn't it. Despite the fact the film stars all the Warner Bros Looney Tunes characters the whole thing is really all about Michael Jordan. A fictional account of a small segment in his career if you will.

So if you haven't already guessed the film is also all about basketball, this makes me wonder if the film was as much of a hit here in the UK as it inevitably was in the US. Obviously the Looney Tunes characters had a lot to do with the appeal for many as the film serves as more of an animated adventure rather than a true basketball feature. That being said it does give plenty for both sides of this spectrum.

Should I really have a go at the plot? this is after all a cartoon of sorts. Basically MJ must do battle on the court against some aliens who want him to be their slave within their intergalactic theme park. Thing is these crafty aliens have pinched the talents of fellow NBA All-Stars Muggsy Bogues, Larry Johnson, Shawn Bradly, Pat Ewing and Charles Barkley (what about John Stockton or Scottie Pippen?). So end of the day its Michael Jordan vs a selection of other NBA players, guess who wins? I wonder what the films trying to say?

As far as an animated flick goes this is a fun time, its bright bold and colourful, there's plenty of toon action, the usual visual gags, in-jokes, sly homages etc...and of course the WB roster is always good see. The problems I have is the fact the animation is nowhere near as good as the classic original toons of Chuck Jones and co naturally...and they never will be ever again. The voice talent is nowhere near as good as Mel Blanc and co...and they never will be again. Plus of course they mix in CGI with hand drawn animation which kinda works in places but looks awful in others.

I think the worst voice work going in this film must be the attempt at Pepe Le Pew. Wasn't a fan of the stereotypical female version of Bugs either, wasn't required, was just added for the young female audience and felt totally out of place. On the other hand the baddie alien characters weren't too bad if a little bland, they became more interesting in massive monster mode of course. I think if I were Bradly I might have been upset my animated alter ego was made out to be a slow towering numbskull. Using Danny Devito as the chief alien bad guy was a smart move, again his character wasn't overly intriguing and kinda standard in design but it worked.

The actual basketball game is good fun even though you'd think it wouldn't be. Its certainly looney, has some slick moments, a nice 'Pulp Fiction' homage, the gag about Michael's special drink is cute, its fun watching the lofty NBA Stars trying to act and Bill Murray adds some much needed fizz for adults. You know what happens in the end, its no surprise, luckily it is a good ride getting there. Definitely an unexpected hit straight outta left field.