Space Jam (Joe Pytka, 1996, USA)

As far as films specifically designed to promote products and sell toys go, you could do far worse than Space Jam. Made at the peak of 1990s NBA mania in the United States (and Michael Jordan's return to the NBA after a minor stint in Major League Baseball), the film was an enormous success and became one of the top 10 highest-grossing films of 1996. It is still the highest-grossing basketball film of all time. The film was directed by commercial director Joel Pytka, and the film evolved out of two early 90s Nike Super Bowl ads that paired Michael Jordan with Bugs Bunny. The Warner studio envisioned the film as a vehicle to get younger kids interested in the Loony Tunes at a time when their popularity was waning. It certainly did that at the time. 

Does the film hold up? It is funny how the film makes fun of Michael Jordan's retirement from basketball, and one wishes the film had a bit less adoration for Jordan and had a bit more fun with his personality. Jordan's performance is not great, but it is better than the rest of the NBA players in the film. Wayne Knight does a good job as the annoying publicist who aids Jordan. Bill Murray is also there, although his character is a bit underwritten. I forgot how long the basketball game is toward the end of the film. It seems that half the film is made up of this basketball game. The soundtrack is classic and is probably what most people in the 1990s who saw the film still remember about it. For toy-driven children's movies, you could do far worse than the original Space Jam. Even at the time, critics were not so harsh toward the film. It hasn't aged amazingly, but it's not bad. 



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