Space Jam (1996)

An animated tribute to North Carolina's most famous native not 
currently crusading against radical homer-sexual agendas, SPACE JAM 
is both a surprise and a disappointment.  Who would've thought that 
such a commercially crass premise (ninety minutes of Hare Jordan) 
would yield such a fun family film?  While the brilliant colors, 
frenzied characters, and pulse-pounding soundtrack are a dandy 
distraction for the wee ones, Mom and Dad are guaranteed a good 
time by the many flashes of adult humor, like a PULP FICTION gag 
here, a bit of sexual innuendo there, and all of those gloriously 
exaggerated (and refreshingly politically incorrect) speech imped-
iments.  (Watch when Daffy coats the lens after a particularly 
moist monologue.)  

Animation fans are also in for a treat, though they're likely to 
lament the absence of any discernible edge.  Missing are the Toons' 
twin trademarks:  rapid-fire wit and violent physical humor.  Sure, 
the final reel breaks loose, but most of the gags (and the animated 
characters themselves) are lamer, tamer versions of the originals.  
Even a bigger letdown is how... familiar the whole experience is.  
What does SPACE JAM say about our exposure to celebrities-- and the 
entertainment industry as a whole-- when a well-attended, decently-
reviewed blockbuster can be built by simply casting a bunch of 
basketball stars, cartoon characters, and one actor (Bill Murray) 
as themselves?  (Rated "PG"/88 min.)

Grade: B

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: November 17, 1996

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