The Dinglehopper

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Review: Space Jam (1996)

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imageMy toddler is 2. He loves all things balls. He has three different basketballs of differing sizes and textures, and a toddler-sized hoop. He says “dribble” and “dunk” and is actually quite a decent player considering his age. As we considered which movies might engage him, I thought of Space Jam, which I had never seen but which I knew was partly animated, starred Michael Jordan, and involved a solid amount of court time. With these things in mind, we watched it last week. Oh, how I wish I could unsee it now.

The most egregious aspect, in my opinion, was the mix of three types of animation, two of which are now really dated. If they’d been smart, they would have stuck with just one dated animation. Instead, they started with 1996’s version of computer animation (think Reboot), then went to a 3D-esque 2D animation in the style of Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), then went to the basic 2D flat Looney Tunes style, then went back to the 3D-esque. Ultimately, anything that wasn’t the normal 2D Looney Tunes style looked wrong. But the choice to mix them? That truly was loony.

The second most egregious aspect was the pure lack of characterization throughout. The most fully developed character was Bill Murray, playing “himself,” attempting to become a pro-basketball player. Michael Jordan as himself was more of a special effect than a character, and the Looney Tunes characters were mere shadows of their former selves.

The third most egregious aspect was the fat-nerd mocking. One character who was given way too much screen time was Wayne Knight’s Stan, who is put in charge of making sure Michael Jordan the baseball player (this film takes place during his “retirement”) is happy. So he is an annoying lackey/sycophant with his body pummeled and mocked in the cartoonish way of Looney Tunes.

I’m not even going to delve into how much this film has its head up its own arse in self-promotion and advertising.

But perhaps as an adult in 2014, I’m not a fair judge. So what did my toddler think of it? He liked the basketball. He did not remember any character names, despite that being an unnatural talent he has. He has not talked about it much afterwards, so it appears to have made no lasting impact. I am grateful we will not have to watch it again.



Author: Erin Perry

I'm a high school English teacher specializing in AP Literature and Film Analysis. I'm interested in most things geeky, including superheroes, vampires, zombies, teen culture, postmodern philosophy, pop culture analysis, and combinations of the aforementioned. Follow me on Twitter @eriuperry.

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