Before Space Jam's 1996 release, we'd never imagined that Michael Jordan would dunk on cartoon players, that Jay-Z would ghostwrite for Bugs Bunny, or that a cartoon rabbit could make us sweat. Our five-part "Space Jam: 20 Years Later" package grapples with all of these incomprehensible truths and many more, exploring the legacy of the worst-best film ever made.
It’s midnight and I’m drunk as a howler monkey on shore leave. I’ve pulled a Martin Sheen and have punched the mirror in my hotel room, though unlike Martin I’ve managed not to have a heart attack. My editor is leaving frantic messages. He wants to know if I’ve found the Monstars. He’s left four messages, each increasingly unhinged. I don’t call him back, but yes, I have found them. Most of them anyway. They’re scattered across the lower 48 and I intend to track each of them down. Space Jam is the only thing that matters right now.
You see, it’s the 20th anniversary of Space Jam, the beloved film about failed baseball player Michael Jordan and various luminaries of the Looney Toon cohort, who team up to defeat the machinations of Moron Mountain magnate and cigar-chewing villain Swackhammer. As you’ll recall if you have even rudimentary knowledge of the film, Swackhammer’s minions are the Monstars (the progenitors of the Monstars in the mythology of the film, the Nerdlucks, are entirely fictional).
What is there to know about these Monstars? Mostly that they are huge and they are different colors and they are adept at dunking basketballs. And also that they used some kind of interstellar sorcery to obtain the talents of five prominent basketball stars at the time: Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Larry Johnson, Muggsy Bogues, and Shawn Bradley. The Monstars initially seemed to be the villains of this story, but with time came the realization that they were more so well-meaning, subjugated pawns, thrust into wrongdoing by Swackhammer. That’s all I know about them. That’s all anyone knows really. But I want to know more. What have they been up to these past 20 years? Where are they hiding? What sort of (monster) men are they? I aim to answer at least one of these questions.