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Culture Opinion

Space Jam celebrates 20 years

Morphing Into a Cultural Phenomenon, The Film Endures with a Multi-Generational Appeal



When Space Jam first dropped, I doubted that it would have a lasting legacy that would be celebrated for years to come. When my daughters were little in the early 2000's, I came to appreciate the film much more because whenever I popped it in, they'd sit transfixed from beginning to end, allowing me to get some much needed rest.

For those who have either never seen it, or for whom it has been some years since cheering on MJ and the Looney Tunes as they battled the Monstars, the plot revolves around an amusement park called Moron Mountain, where the boss concocts a plan to kidnap the beloved cartoon characters from earth in order to boost his bottom line.

A basketball game ensues where the Tunes are given a chance to win their freedom back. But as history has taught us, those in power never relinquish it without vicious attempts at duplicitousness and cheating. And let's not forget the standard page from the playbook of oppression: pillaging.

The aliens proceed to steal the talents of NBA stars such as Charles Barkley and Larry Johnson, though their scouting department must have gone on to work for the 2012 Bobcats and 2005 Atlanta Hawks, because they inexplicably purloined the skills (?) of Shawn Bradley as well.
The lilliputian aliens morph into the giant, menacing Monstars, forcing the Tunes to kidnap Michael Jordan, who's whiffing on more curveballs in the minor league's than Trump saying kind things about women and Mexicans.

I must say that Larry Bird and Bill Murray could never have my back in a bar fight, because they simply shrugged their shoulders and walked away when MJ disappeared down that golf hole. But that's a bigger discussion for another day about knowing who your friends are.

Long story short, Bugs, Daffy, Foghorn Leghorn, Porky Pig, Pepe LePew, Yosemite Sam and the rest of them have about as much talent as Miguel Nunez in Juwanna Man, but MJ is Air Jordan, so if you don't know how it ends, I'll spoil it for you: he leads the Tunes to victory, and everyone lives happily ever after. Well, except for Shawn Bradley, who just got dunked on again, right now as we speak, by somebody's grandma at an open run in Boca Raton.

Despite its shortcomings, Space Jam has morphed into a cultural phenomenon. There are rumors that LeBron James will soon star in a sequel and one of the most highly anticipated sneaker releases off 2016 is the Air Jordan 11 Space Jam, which will come in a Looney Tunes-themed box.

Image title Photo: The Shadow League

When the film was initially released, the critics panned it as if they were expecting the next coming of a cinematic masterpiece along the lines of The Shawshank Redemption. But they failed to recognize that, despite its shortcomings, the combination of Bugs and Air Jordan was more championship-worthy, long term, than him and Scottie Pippen.

Space Jam earned more than $90 million in the U.S. and $230 million globally. It did more than $1 Billion, with a capital B!, in retail sales. No basketball film ever grossed more. EVER!

For more on this, check out the full story on The Shadow League!

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