Space Jam is a 1996 American live-action/animated sports comedy film starring Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes characters. The film was produced by Ivan Reitman and directed by Joe Pytka, with Tony Cervone and Bruce W. Smith directing the animation.
A fictional account of Michael's first retirement from the N.B.A., the film was released theatrically by Warner Bros. under the Family Entertainment label on November 15, 1996. It plays out as an alternate story of Michael's initial return to basketball, this time with him being inspired by Bugs Bunny and others. Space Jam was a box office success, opening at #1 in the U.S., and grossing over $230,000,000 worldwide.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Cast
- 3 Production
- 4 Music
- 5 Video games
- 6 Printed or Published Media
- 7 Home media
- 8 Reception
- 9 Box Office
- 10 Awards
- 11 In other media
- 12 Trivia
- 13 Quotes
- 14 Video releases (America/Australia/South Korea)
The film opens in 1973, with Michael Jordan practicing basketball shots late at night. His father notices this and says to come inside. The young Michael then asks if he can get a couple more shots in, which his father accepts and notices how good he is, he then lets him keep shooting until he misses. As Michael shoots he discusses with his dad his plans for the future, to become a basketball player.
He also notes that once he’s done with this he'll play baseball, a sport that his dad loves. As young Michael dribbles the ball to the basket the scene then segues to footage of Michael as a basketball player at his prime.
Twenty years later in 1993, professional basketball player Michael Jordan announces his retirement from the NBA to follow in his father's footsteps and turn to a career in baseball.
Meanwhile, a group of criminal aliens called the Nerdlucks, led by their boss, Mr. Swackhammer, plot to capture the Looney Tunes characters, who really exist in a secret animated world called Tune Land hidden under planet earth, and make them their newest attractions at Moron Mountain, a failing amusement park. Swackhammer believes enslaving the Tunes in this way will bring in more customers and save Moron Mountain from foreclosure.
They arrive to Tune Land, and since the aliens aren't very intelligent or tall, the Tunes bargain for their freedom by challenging the Nerdlucks to a basketball game. To ensure their victory, the Nerdlucks return to earth and steal the talents of Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, Charles Barkley, Muggsy Bogues and Shawn Bradley, who are rendered incapable of playing basketball as a result. The Nerdlucks use the stolen talent to transform into gigantic creatures now called the Monstars that the Looney Tunes are unable to defeat by themselves without the help of a professional, in which Bugs Bunny says "I think we might need a little bit of help."
To help them win, the Tunes choose, abduct, and recruit Michael, and he reluctantly agrees after the Monstars squash him into the shape of a basketball and bounce him around like one. A new arrival named Lola Bunny is added to the team thanks to her amazing talent as Michael says "That girl's got some skills." Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny go to Michael's house to collect what he needs to play, barely dodging his dog, Charles. Michael's publicist Stan (Wayne Knight) sees Bugs and Daffy return to Tune Land and follows them, stays to support Michael, whose team will be called the Tune Squad. In the real world, the NBA commissioner, over concerns about the players' well-being, announces that the season will be suspended until further notice.
Despite Michael's leadership, the Monstars dominate the first half of the game. After sneaking into the Monstars' locker room and being detected despite hiding in a locker and scorched as a result, Stan informs the Tune Squad that the Monstars stole the talent from the NBA players. Bugs then motivates the team with a special drink, and the Monstars' commanding lead is reduced to a significantly smaller margin. Seeing Swackhammer that the Monstars did not steal Michael's talent, Michael takes the chance to raise the stakes. If the Tune Squad wins, the Monstars must give the NBA players their talent back, but if they lose, then Swackhammer is to spare the Looney Tunes in exchange for Michael. He readily accepts it and Bugs tries to talk him out of it, all the while being aware of what it means if Michael is subjected to humiliation on Moron Mountain for all time.
As the game resumes, the Monstars, under orders from Swackhammer, begin playing even dirtier than before. As a result, the Looney Tunes are injured, one by one, until only Michael, Bugs, Lola and Daffy are left, leaving them short one player. Reluctantly, Michael puts Stan in the game, and though he is quickly taken out of action, the Monstars' lead is now down to one. Marvin the Martian, who is the referee, informs them that if there is no fifth player, the team will have no choice but to forfeit the game. At the last second, Bill Murray appears in the stadium and joins the team, breaking the fourth wall along the way.
With only seconds left, Bill pulls some clever manueuvering and gets the ball to Michael. Extending his arm to superhuman lengths since the laws of physics work differently in Tune Land, Michael makes the basket and wins the game. He helps the Monstars realize that they're bigger than Mr. Swackhammer, who confronts them for losing. Fed up with their abusive boss, the Monstars tie him up to a rocket and send him to Moron Mountain on the moon. At Michael's request, they reluctantly return the stolen talent to the other players by transferring them to a basketball, which is how they stored the stolen talent earlier in the film. This reverts the Monstars back to the Nerdlucks. Refusing to return to Moron Mountain, the Nerdlucks decide to stay with the Looney Tunes, who only agree if the Nerdlucks can prove themselves to be looney, which they arguably complete on the spot.
Afterwards, Michael returns to earth in a Nerdlucks' spaceship, where he makes a dramatic appearance at a baseball game of an audience, despite being late. The next morning, Michael gives the stolen talent back to the NBA players, who immediately regain their lost skills. Two years later in 1995, Michael is later prompted by his rivals to return to the NBA, mirroring his real-life comeback with the Chicago Bulls.
- Michael Jordan as himself
- Wayne Knight as Stan Podolak
- Bill Murray as himself
- Theresa Randle as Juanita Jordan
- Larry Bird as himself
- Thom Barry as James Jordan
- Manner Washington as Jeffrey Jordan
- Eric Gordon as Marcus Jordan
- Penny Bae Bridges as Jasmine Jordan
- Del Harris as himself
- Charles Barkley as himself
- Patrick Ewing as himself
- Shawn Bradley as himself
- Larry Johnson as himself
- Muggsy Bogues as himself
- Billy West as Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd
- Dee Bradley Baker as Daffy Duck, Tasmanian Devil, Toro the Bull
- Bob Bergen as Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Hubie and Bertie, Marvin the Martian
- Danny DeVito as Mr. Swackhammer
- Bill Farmer as Yosemite Sam, Sylvester, Foghorn Leghorn
- June Foray as Granny
- Maurice LaMarche as Pepé Le Pew
- Kath Soucie as Lola Bunny
- Jocelyn Blue as Nerdluck Pound
- Charity James as Nerdluck Blanko
- June Melby as Nerdluck Bang
- Catherine Reitman as Nerdluck Bupkus
- Colleen Wainwright as Nerdluck Nawt, Sniffles
- Darnell Suttles as Monstar Pound
- Steve Kehela as Announcer, Monstar Blanko
- Joey Camen as Monstar Bang
- Dorian Harewood as Monstar Bupkus
- T.K. Carter as Monstar Nawt
- Frank Welker as Charles
For more information on Production, see Production.
For more information on Production Art, see Production Art.
The soundtrack sold enough albums to be certified as 6x Platinum. It also served as a high point for musical artist R. Kelly, whose song "I Believe I Can Fly" became a hit after it was featured on the film's soundtrack. Other tracks included a cover of "Fly Like An Eagle" (by Seal), "Hit 'Em High (The Monstars' Anthem)" (by B-Real, Busta Rhymes, Coolio, LL Cool J, and Method Man), "Basketball Jones" (by Chris Rock and Barry White), and "For You I Will" (by Monica). The movie's theme song was performed by the Quad City DJ's.
There was a video game adaptation by Acclaim based on the film and a video game for the PlayStation, Sega Saturn and MS-DOS. Ports for the Windows PC, SNES and the N64 were cancelled for unknown reasons. A pinball game was also manufactured by Sega in 1996.
Printed or Published Media
For more information on Printed and Published Media, see Books and Magazines.
The film was released on VHS and DVD on March 11, 1997. The film was released as a 2-disc special edition DVD on April 24, 2003 and as a feature in a 4-film Favorites: Family Comedies 4-movie collection in November 6, 2007 and was released as a single disc DVD on March 20, 2012 and for the first time in widescreen HD on Blu-ray.
Space Jam received negative-to-mixed reviews from film critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 35% based on 49 reviews. Roger Ebert gave Space Jam a "thumbs up," which his partner, Gene Siskel, also gave the film, although his zeal was more subdued. Todd McCarthy of Variety praised the film for its humor. He also praised the Looney Tunes' antics and Michael's acting. Although Janet Maslin of The New York Times criticized the film's animation, she later went on to say that the film is a "fond tribute to the Looney Tunes characters' past."
Many critics compared it unfavorably to Who Framed Roger Rabbit, a popular film in which cartoon characters and live-action humans coexisted in the same film as well. Basketball fans thought the movie to be demeaning to the sport, and to Michael Jordan himself.
Those who liked the film praised the visual effects, which were groundbreaking at the time. Roger Ebert was among the few major critics to give Space Jam an enthusiastic "thumbs up." Some of his readers theorized that Ebert did so because he works in Chicago, and therefore would be supportive of any of Michael Jordan's endeavours. Leonard Maltin also gave the film a positive review.
Despite the negative press, the film served as a high point for musical artist R. Kelly, whose song "I Believe I Can Fly" became a hit after it was featured on the film's soundtrack. Other notable musical numbers appearing in the film include a cover of Fly Like an Eagle (by Seal), Hit 'em High (Monstar's Anthem) (by B-Real, Coolio, Method Man, LL Cool J, and Busta Rhymes), and For You I Will (by Monica).
Space Jam was a box office success. At the end of its run, it grossed $90,418,342 in the United States and over $230,000,000 internationally.
- 1997 ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards
- Won: Most Performed Songs from Motion Pictures (Diane Warren for the song "For You I Will")
- Won: Top Box Office Films (Jamshied Sharifi)
- Won: Best Individual Achievement: Technical Achieve
- Nomination: Best Animated Feature
- Nomination: Best Individual Achievement: Directing in a Feature Production (Bruce W. Smith and Tony Cervone)
- Nomination: Best Individual Achievement: Producing in a Feature Production (Ron Tippe)
- Grammy Awards
- Won: Best Song Written Specifically for Motion Picture or for Television (R. Kelly) (For the Song I Believe I Can Fly)
- MTV Movie Awards
- Nomination: Best Movie Song (R. Kelly) (For the Song I Believe I Can Fly)
- Satellite Awards
- Nomination: Best Motion Picture- Animated or Mixed Media (Daniel Goldberg, Joe Medjuck, Ivan Reitman)
- World Animation Celebration
- Won: Best Use of Animation in a Motion Picture Trailer
- Young Artist Awards
- Nomination: Best Family Feature- Animation or Special Effects
In other media
Jordan himself, who was a spokesman for MCI Communications before the film was made, would appear with the Looney Tunes characters (as "his Space Jam buddies") in several MCI commercials for several years after the film was released before merging with WorldCom and subsequently Verizon Communications.
- The scuffed basketball used in the film is a treasured souvenir owned by director Joe Pytka. When held by Michael Jordan it is real, but whenever it is in flight or controlled by the cartoon characters it is animated.
- When flying towards "Moron Mountain", the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey can be seen at the very right edge of the frame floating in space.
- In order to fill up the audience from a limited selection of characters, one section was made from actual Looney Tunes. The rest were simply replicated over and over and then seated next to each other to create the illusion of a full audience.
- The gym where the Looney Tunes practice is called "Leon Schlesinger Gym" after Leon Schlesinger, the man who produced the first Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies.
- Noel Blanc (Mel Blanc's son) was originally booked to provide all of the regular Warner Bros. male cartoon characters' voices. But he and Warner Bros. couldn't agree on a contract, so the studio replaced Blanc with four other people to do the 12 male voices, instead of Blanc doing them all.
- While praying in church for the return of his basketball skills, Charles Barkley says, "I'm never gonna go out with Madonna again." This refers to his own fling with Madonna (not Dennis Rodman's fling, as previously reported).
- Michael Jordan actually wore his college basketball shorts under his Chicago Bulls uniform every game as a good luck charm.
- A picture of Bosko, Warner Bros. first cartoon star, can be seen hanging on the wall of the meeting hall, in the scene where Yosemite Sam confronts the aliens.
- The concept for this film originated from a series of highly popular Nike ads where Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan faced off against Marvin the Martian and his alien henchmen in basketball.
- The hat that Bill Murray is wearing at the Bulls game at the end of the film is the Saint Paul Saints, a minor league baseball team of which Murray was a part owner at the time.
- This film marks the debut of Lola Bunny, Bugs' love interest.
- When Larry Johnson says that his grandmother can play better than him, it is a reference to the Converse commercial where Johnson plays his grandmama.
- The Nerdlucks and the Monstars' names are Pound (orange), Bang (green), Nawt (red), Bupkus (purple) and Blanko (blue). None of their names are mentioned in the film, and neither is the word "Nerdluck".
- To keep Michael Jordan happy while filming, Warner Bros. built him his own basketball court.
- The soundtrack was composed of hit songs.
- The Nerdlucks and the Monstars are all voiced by women and men.
- Korey Coleman, founder of the award winning animated movie review site Spill, was an assistant animator for Space Jam, he animated Tweety's shadows.
- Patricia Heaton, who played Debra from 'Everybody Loves Raymond' is the one who notices that the guy next to us is doing something very weird in his raincoat.
- Dan Castellaneta, who played Homer Simpson from 'The Simpsons', plays her husband.
- Several NBA players make appearances.
- Many well known and recognizes voices appear in the film:
- Kath Soucie as Lola.
- Danny DeVito as Swackhammer.
- Jeff Bergman is both voiced by Bugs and Daffy and Sylvester.
- Bob Bergen is both voiced by Tweety and Porky.
- June Foray is Granny.
- Bill Farmer is Foghorn Leghorn.
- Charity James is Nerdluck Blanko.
- Joe Alaskey said in an interview he initially expressed interest in voicing some of Looney Tunes for this film (or at the very least, provide Daffy's voice). But, despite the fact that Alaskey had several years of experience doing spot-on renditions of Mel Blanc's characters, producer Ivan Reitman kept making him audition several times, and flip-flopping back and forth as to whether or not he should be cast. Alaskey finally got fed up and said, "Look, either you want me, or you don't!" Alaskey didn't hear from Reitman again after that. In the end though, Alaskey admitted he was glad he wasn't involved in Space Jam after actually seeing the film and realizing it was a terrible film.
- The sweat on Michael's jersey while he is warming up with the Looney Tunes.
- When Tweety is surrounded by the Monstars and he fights them off with karate, the timer is visible in the background, set at 12:00. Before this scene, the timer was at 5:01.
- After Wile E. Coyote crashes into the auditorium, Daffy steps on his nose. On the very next shot, Daffy is walking in the aisle, but Wile E. is not visible behind him.
- When the talent is stolen from Patrick Ewing, the first clock shows 6:07 left. When the camera pans the other way and when he heads to the free throw line, the clock shows 6:13 left.
- The arena and the arena floor change during the Knicks-Suns game at the beginning.
- After the alien steals Patrick Ewing's talent the referee throws the ball to him for a free throw. The ball hits Ewing in the chest. When Michael is watching TV and sees the replay of the incident, the ball hits Ewing in the forehead.
- In the scene where Daffy Duck is strutting down the runway showing off his many different looks, his basketball sneakers are shaped like regular sneakers at the toe. In the next shot, they are shaped like his webbed foot.
- When the green monstar says, 'you're all washed up, baldy', he is to the left of Michael Jordan. When Michael Jordan reacts and says 'baldy?', he looks up to the right.
- During the scene in Madison Square Garden, The court goes from having only the professional three point line and an orange lane, later on in the scene, there are two three point lines, college and professional, and the lane is now blue.
- When Stan is inflated out of his pancake state and flies past the scoreboard, the Tune Squad's score is shown as 67. Seconds later, their score is shown as 76.
- When Swackhammer says to the nerdluck, "Nice! Did you see the move on that one?" the nerdluck is red. Previously, the nerdluck had been a brownish color.
- When Bill was first shown on the court for the Tune Squad, he didn't have a hat on. Then in the next shot of him he has a hat on backwards.
- Lola is not among the tunes exercising to the Richard Simmons video, but appears in the gym out of nowhere a few seconds later, just after Michael Jordan enters in his uniform.
- When Michael is sucked through the golf hole by the Looney Tunes, his shoes fly off his feet and land on the green. When Michael emerges in the cartoon world, his shoes are back on his feet.
- When Michael is sucked down the golf cup, both of his shoes are left behind. When he arrives, he's got one shoe on.
- When Michael first arrives home after the baseball game, the name of the dog Charles is on the dog house. When Daffy goes to Michael's house to get his shoes and shorts and the dog attacks him, the name is missing.
Crew or equipment visible
- When Stan Podolak falls in the Birmingham Barons' dugout, you can clearly see the mat that he falls on.
- Many of the monstars jump and slam from beyond the three point line but every one is only counted as two points.
- When Michael's children Barkley the bulldog, the shot of the dog leaving is a mismatched composite shot. The dog is shot from a high camera angle, but the background plate is at a low angle.
- When Charles the Dog jumps on Michael Jordan to lick him when he comes home from his baseball game, the dog is clearly a stuffed animal.
- Larry Johnson only grazes the hospital doorway, but is still knocked out like Shawn Bradley and Patrick Ewing.
- Towards the end of the game, Michael asks Bugs how Stan's body cartoonishly inflated when filled with air, but Michaels body reacted a similar way when the Monstars crushed him into a basketball and dunked him.
- When it was shown on FX, Freeform, The Hub (now Discovery Family), Bounce TV, Nickelodoen, Teenick, VH1, MTV, Spike (now Paramount Network), Viceland, Cartoon Network, syndication, NBA TV, Nicktoons, and VH1 Classic, the part with Stan Podolak flatulent in the arena during the deflation was cut out due to the September 11 attacks in 2001. Another edit is the removal of the post credits scene with Michael Jordan telling viewers that if he wants to go home for some channels in order for the next programming/movie to start. Another removal for Viceland is the That's All Folks signature.
- Pound: You! All of you, are now our prisoners!
- Mr. Swackhammer: It smells like a spy!
- Lola: Don't ever call me doll!
- Blanko: Hey, little pig! Boo!
- Porky: I wet myself.
- Bill Murray: Whoa, I don't play defense.
- Bang: You're all washed up, baldy!
- Michael Jordan: Yeah, but I'm a baseball player now.
- Bugs: (holding a skull, as in Hamlet) Right. And I am a Shakespearean actor!
Video releases (America/Australia/South Korea)
Main film releases
- Space Jam (American VHS/DVD)
- Space Jam (1997 Australian VHS/1998 Australian DVD and Edition 2007 Australian DVD)
- Space Jam (South Korean DVD)
20th Anniversary releases
- Space Jam (20th Anniversary 2016 American DVD)
- Space Jam (20th Anniversary South Korean DVD)
- Space Jam (20th Anniversary 2017 Australian DVD)