Release date: October 21, 1996
Record label: Warner Sunset/Atlantic
Director Joe Pytka's efforts were admirable. Who wouldn't want to see the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan, yucking it up and shooting intergalactic hoops with Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, the Tasmanian Devil, and all of their Looney Tunes brethren? Sounds like a sports-loving kid's dream come true, no? In theory, yes, but not in execution. Space Jam's 2D/3D animation is shoddy, the humor is lazy, and Jordan mostly looks dazed and confused, as if someone spiked his Wheaties. It's really not a good movie (though you can appreciate it for its camp—if you squint).
The film never stood a chance against its own soundtrack for a couple reasons: "I Believe I Can Fly" and "Hit 'Em High (The Monstars' Anthem)." The former, of course, is R. Kelly's sweeping inspirational anthem, a real tower of song. Kelly is a polarizing figure, but even the most sensitive viewers have to appreciate the majesty of his earnest ode to perseverance.
Now, "Hit 'Em High"—a hardbody posse cut with B-Real, Busta Rhymes, Method Man, Coolio, and LL Cool J—still puts speakers on blast. This was during the hey day of '90s movie soundtracks nabbing quality rap songs (see: the Men in Black soundtrack, too).
Recognize that we are not riding for Bugs Bunny's embarrassing rap debut, "Buggin'." But if you want to talk about the comedic excellence of "Basketball Jones," we're right there with you. —MB