If there was ever a film that didn’t lack in star power, it was Space Jam. Released in 1996, this live-action/animation hybrid teamed up two of the most popular pop culture icons of the day, Bugs Bunny and sports legend Michael Jordan to fight the forces of evil within the confines of a basketball court. The result delighted audiences of all ages and scored a big hit at the box office for Warner Brothers.
Bunny and Basketball player had teamed up for a commercial here and there in the past; and so, it was only logical to see what they might accomplish on the big screen. Set during a time when Michael Jordan had turned in the basketball for a baseball bat in real life, the film finds him content in his courtly retirement, free to spend time with the family and tee-off on the golf course when the mood strikes. Things aren’t going quite as well for floppy-eared Bugs Bunny and his cohorts though; they’ve all been kidnapped by a sinister outer space amusement park operator named Swackhammer, who is eager to boost the gate receipts at Moron Mountain. Bugs, Daffy, Porky and the gang, having been brought against their will to Moron Mountain by the diminutive henchmen called Nerdlucks, are desperate for an escape plan. So, they make a simple wager – if they can beat the Nerdlucks in a game of B-Ball, they get to go on their merry way. Their opponents accept the challenge.
Unbeknownst to the cartoon critters, however, is that their rivals have the deck stacked heavily in their favor, having stolen the skills from five of the NBA’s most treacherous players – Larry Johnson, Muggsy Bugues, Shawn Bradley, Patrick Ewing and the cantankerous Charles Barkley. With this experience under their tiny belts, the Nerdlucks, by all appearances, are unstoppable. But there is one superstar whose talent they have yet to steal, that of the formidable Michael Jordan. The Looney Tunes manage to recruit the amazing MJ to their team – granted, somewhat against his will. Only the big game can determine if they have the combined abilities necessary to emerge victorious and return to their home planet.
A winner with kids and adults alike, Space Jam received some additional superstar help in the musical department, with hit songs provided by R. Kelly (“I Believe I Can Fly”) and Seal (with a stellar remake of Steve Miller’s “Fly Like an Eagle”). The film also introduced a brand spanking new Looney Tunes character, a voluptuous female named Lola Bunny. All of this combined to make Space Jam a certified winner at the box-office. Unfortunately, before a sequel could be considered, Michael took his Air Jordans back to the basketball court and decided to resume his career as a legend. Bugs is reported to be somewhere between here and Albuquerque.
If you have fond memories of watching Bugs and pals perform their on-court antics in this classic film, feel free to share all your Space Jam memories in our comments section.