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Film: Space Jam

"Come on and slam, and welcome to the jam!"

This 1996 live-action/animated film is what happens when you base a feature-length film upon a sneaker commercial. Really. Nike had ordered a few commercials featuring Michael Jordan and an animated Bugs Bunny facing off against alien cartoon characters.

In the film, the Looney Tunes must recruit NBA superstar Michael Jordan to play on their basketball team. They need Jordan's help because these aliens called Nerdlucks intend to take them back to their planet, and make them the new attractions for their evil boss Swackhammer's evil theme park. Bugs, noting how tiny the Nerdlucks are, decides to challenge them to a basketball game.

This backfires when it turns out that the Nerdlucks can steal the "talent" from athletes (they do this to NBA players Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Muggsy Bogues, Larry Johnson and Shawn Bradley in one of the movie's many, many subplots). This transforms them into the Monstars (aka —wait for it— The Mean Team). This is where Michael Jordan comes in, but during the time period the film is set in, he had retired to play baseball. Thankfully, he wasn't drained of his skills and had actually just unretired at the time the film was made. note  According to this film, saving the Looney Tunes is the reason why he returned to basketball.

Space Jam was met with mixed reaction by critics, but was successful at the box office, with $230 million worldwide. It's notable for introducing Bugs' girlfriend Lola Bunny, who has been featured in most Looney Tunes projects made since this film. It's not to be confused with Looney Tunes: Back in Action, which is officially a Retcon. It was also one of the earliest movies to feature a tie-in website, which is still running to this day.

And remember: This movie is canonnote . Also, there are rumors about a potential sequel being in the works.

Not related to the jam used in Spaceballs.


Tropes:

  • Adam Westing: Bill Murray freely admits he has no place in this story.
  • Alan Smithee: Possibly. Joe Pytka is credited as the film's director, however many people who worked on the film (mostly the voice actors) have all said Ivan Reitman was the film's actual director, and that Joe Pytka was only a director for the animation. For whatever reason, Pytka got the main director's credit, while Reitman is only credited as a producer.
  • Aliens Are Bastards: The Monstars, but the actually real antagonist is Swackhammer.
  • All There in the Manual: The names of the aliens who would become the Monstars, and the name of their pre-Monstar species (Nerdluck).
  • Amusing Injuries: Done with both the Looney Tunes (minus Lola) and - eerily - the live-action actors.
  • Angry Guard Dog: When Bugs and Daffy have to sneak into Michael Jordan's house to get his basketball gear and lucky shorts, Daffy gets to deal with Jordan's very, very angry guard dog.
  • Art Shift: Mr. Swackhammer fantasizing about Jordan working at Moron Mountain. It's kinda scary.
  • As Himself: Michael Jordan and a whole bunch of other celebs and basketballers, which makes sense seeing as who Mike hangs around with all day.
  • Ass Kicking Pose: Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam do this during the second half slapstick montage. It's a direct Shout-Out to Pulp Fiction.
  • Award Bait Song: "I Believe I Can Fly" by R. Kelly.
  • Badass Boast: "Hit'em High" is a song-shaped one for the Monstars. The best instance being the chorus:
    We want it all!
    We're unstoppable, we run the floor!
    You can't take none of this hardcore!
    In the game we take you to war!
    You ain't seen nothin' like this before!
    "If I hit 'em high, hit 'em high, hit 'em high"
    "And you hit 'em low, hit 'em low, hit 'em low"
    "If I hit 'em high, hit 'em high, hit 'em high"
    "And you hit 'em low, hit 'em low, hit 'em low"
  • Badass Normal: Played with. Michael Jordan, when compared to his teammates (cartoon characters) and opponents (humongous aliens) he is a mundane human. Then again, being the greatest player in the history of basketball...
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Lola Bunny, as well as the other furry characters in their Tune Squad uniforms. This is lampshaded when Michael Jordan gets his golf cleats stuck to the floorboards and asks if the toons have a pair of basketball shoes he could borrow—cut to a few shots of the toons' feet and baffled looks.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Lola Bunny goes into a basket-busting frenzy whenever anyone calls her "Doll."
    • Jordan has a few of these: Don't call him wussy man, don't call him chicken, don't call him washed up, and especially don't call him baldy. If you think his head blew there get ready for the big one: Don't hit Tweety in front of him.
  • Be The Ball: Happens to Jordan when he first meets the aliens. They invoke this trope to show off their stolen talent.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Tweety Bird is surprisingly hostile and mean when not "on set". He also knows kung-fu.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Subverted by Stan, played straight by Bill Murray in a spectacular Deus ex Machina fashion. The latter is Lampshaded hilariously by Swackhammer.
    "Whoa, whoa, whoa! I didn't know Dan Aykroyd was in this picture!"
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: See Lampshade Hanging.
  • Body Horror: The Monstars, especially the transformation sequence. it's a frightening transformation.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: After The Monstars acquire the talent and transform we get this exchange.
    Daffy: Those little pipsqueaks turned into Superstars!
    Porky: T-T-T-They're Monsters!
    Slyvester: Sufferin' Succotash! They're Monstars!
  • Bring My Brown Pants: There's a moment after the Nerdlucks have transformed, where one of them boos right in Porky Pig's face. Porky's response is to shriek, piddle, and say to the audience:
    "I-I-I-I-I wet myself."
  • Bull Seeing Red: Used at one point when Daffy Duck paints one of the Monstars' butts with red paint, which attracts the attention of the Bull from Bully For Bugs, who was sitting in the crowd at the time. Cue him ramming said Monstar in the gluteus maximus, sending him into the air screaming.
    Crowd: Ole!
  • Butt Monkey: The film's plot revolves around a threat that for once can overpower even the wiliest of Looney Tunes. Even usually untouchable protagonists such as Bugs and Tweety end up taking a good few lumps here but Daffy gets the worst, as usual.
    Daffy Duck: [Sarcastically] Very funny. Let's all laugh at the Duck.
  • Carload of Cool Kids: Once Michael Jordan regains his feet after a slobbery greeting by his bulldog Charles, some passing young people in a convertible hail him with "Michael!" and wave. Jordan turns to regard them, but gives no acknowledgement, perhaps still sore about his dismal performance as a baseball player.
  • Cassandra Truth: At one point, a psychic medium holds a seance with the five basketball players who lost their talents, and sees the entire plot of the movie up to that point. The players don't believe her and go off to try acupuncture.
  • Canon Foreigner/Canon Immigrant: Oddly averted with the Nerdlucks, who haven't appeared in any Looney Tunes media since the movie even though the ending seems to suggest they are taken in by the Tunes and though they are arguably much better suited to be Looney Tunes characters than Lola is. Lola, on the other hand, is played straight for both, as she'd later appear in Baby Looney Tunes, various Looney Tunes tie-in games, and The Looney Tunes Show (which gave her a much Denser and Wackier personality).
  • The Cameo:
    • Most of the crowd in the arena are secondary characters from Looney Tunes shorts.
    • There are numerous cameos from other NBA stars in this film, which just adds to the confusion of whether this is a movie about Looney Tunes that randomly involves basketball, or a movie about Michael Jordan that randomly has the Looney Tunes in it. Those with the largest roles are Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Muggsy Bogues, Larry Johnson and Shawn Bradley, the five players whom the Monstars steal talents from. Larry Bird plays himself as Michael Jordan's golf buddy (a reference to another ad campaign Jordan was involved in). There's also cameos by Vlade Divac, Cedric Ceballos, Danny Ainge and Paul Westphal.
    • Television sport commentators Ahmad Rashād and Jim Rome also throw in brief cameos. Patricia Heaton (pre-Everybody Loves Raymond) and Dan Castellaneta are at the Knicks game.
  • The Cast Showoff: Not in the movie itself, but Billy West, who voices Bugs and a majority of the Looney Tunes characters performs a rap song on the soundtrack called "Buggin'", which is all him singing to himself in his Looney Tunes voices.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Bill Murray first appears at Michael's golf game talking about how he'd like to play in the NBA. He next shows up at the Looney Tunes' basketball game in a Big Damn Heroes moment.
  • Chirping Crickets: The reception that Daffy gets during player introductions.
  • Cigar Chomper: Mr. Swackhammer does this as a visual cue of his evilness.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Swackhammer again. He considers kidnapping people from another plane to be a legit business venture.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The Nerdlucks/Monstars, who are all a variety of sickly colors, as compared to the mostly white-to-black cartoons.
  • Composite Character: The film makes a few nods to the evolutions of certain Looney Tunes characters. Daffy in particular is a perfect blend of his 1940s and 1950s incarnations, setting up his "Daffy Doc" persona or bursting into fits of "WOO HOO, HOO HOO" when not in his usual egotistical banter with Bugs.
  • Conspicuous CG: Can be seen in the spaceships, many of the backgrounds and when Stan deflates and flies through the air.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Monstars absolutely decimate the Tunes in the 3rd quarter of the game. After Jordan calls for a time out, we see the various characters in REALLY bad shape, with Tweety resting in an what looks like an iron lung!
  • Deadpan Snarker: Michael lets some good snarks throughout the film:
    Stan: So, what is it (the car)? Too conspicuous?
    Michael (Gives wide, toothy grin and deadpan voice): Yes.
  • Defeat Means Friendship / Heel-Face Turn: The Nerdlucks/Monstars do this at the end after they lose the game. When the Monstars turn back into the Nerdlucks, they ask Bugs if they can stay with the Looney Tunes and try to prove to him they can be loony.
  • Deus ex Machina: Bill Murray's last minute appearance (see No Fourth Wall). Within universe, the toons stop 40-year-old cartoons due to an important meeting.
  • The Dog Bites Back: The Nerdlucks/Monstars' comeuppance on their boss. When Michael points out that they don't have to take his abuse, they suddenly realize that they are much bigger and stronger than him and rocket him back to Moron Mountain.
  • Ears as Hair: Lola ties her ears back in a ponytail.
  • Enemy Mine: Either this or they all are Animated Actors. The heroes and foes seemed to be on fairly good terms in the film when outside the classic shorts, and probably it was because all of their future careers were on the line, so they had no choice but to cooperate.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When Bill Murray tells Daffy that he's only there because he's a friend of the producer, Pound (The orange Monstar) can be seen in the background, and shakes his head in disgust when Murray mentions this.
  • Evil Plan: The game takes place and Michael Jordan is ropped into it because Mr. Swackhammer wants new attractions for his theme park and decies to enslave the loony tunes.
  • Fireball Eyeballs: Lola, when Bugs first calls her "doll".
  • Fish Out of Temporal Water: Michael Jordan stays with the Looney Tunes characters in their universe to help them defeat the Monstars, and then he leaves for home when done.
  • Five-Bad Band: The Nerdlucks/Monstars (most of the roles are more obvious in the Monstar forms)
    • Big Bad: Pound (orange) (clearly The Leader)
    • The Dragon: Bang (green) (even breathes fire like a literal dragon at one point)
    • The Brute: Bupkis (purple) (most physically imposing)
    • Evil Genius: Nawt (red) (seems to be the smartest, though that's not saying much with this group)
    • Token Good Teammate: Blanko (blue) (doesn't seem particularly evil compared to the rest)
  • Five-Man Band: The introductory team:
    • The Leader: Michael Jordan is the basketball veteran and does their training.
    • The Lancer: Bugs Bunny is the biggest name among the toons and (fittingly) has a more comical personality. (these two are interchangeable)
    • The Smart Guy: Daffy Duck. He's the only one that has a problem with drinking the "Secret Stuff". It goes against everything he learned in Health Class.
    • The Big Guy: Tasmanian Devil, aka Taz is the most dangerous of the players.
    • The Chick: Lola Bunny. The only girl on the team and the only one that's not wacky. note 
  • Gaiden Game: Considered canon for Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • Bugs' body stiffens and hits the floor with a wood like sound upon meeting Lola.
      • Speaking of that scene, her introduction was rather...interestingly displayed, especially after beating Bugs. She approaches him with bedroom eyes, as one of her shoulder straps had fallen off her shoulder. Then she does a "hair flip" with her ears, and leaves the room with an exaggerated sway of her hips. All the while a Sexophone playing in the background. Very subtle, developers.
      • Bugs suggesting a "one-on-one game" with Lola wouldn't sound that bad; unless you take it as a Double Entendre and the fact alone that Bugs is melting at the sight of her.
    • Daffy gets his bath interrupted by the Looney Tunes meeting and exclaims, "What does a guy gotta do to get himself wet around here?!"
    • A montage of the basketball players seeking treatment for their suddenly poor performance on the court. The culmination being when the therapist asks Patrick Ewing if his "performance" has suffered in "any... other... areas?", with Ewing giving him an incredulous look and yelling, "NO!" Tweety Bird even gets some.
    • One of the Nerdlucks describes his time as a Monstar with "what a trip!"
    • When the Tunes are showing Michael their (rather poor) training facilities, one of the things they mention having is balls (as in a locker full of various balls). Michael's response- "You sure do."
    • "This man next to us is doing something very strange in his raincoat."
    • This dialogue at the end:
    Michael: Stay out of trouble, Bugs.
    Bugs: Oh, you know I will. (wiggles eyebrows at Lola)
  • G-Rated Drug/Magic Feather: Bugs' Secret Stuff, which is really water, but the toons treat it as steroids. Daffy notes this is wrong. Using the basketball players' talent is made to look like this on the aliens' side.
  • Growing Muscles Sequence:
    • The Nerdlucks transforming into the Monstars makes all of them bigger and muscular.
    • Bugs Bunny later fakes one to convince his teammates that Michael's Secret Stuff works.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: As usual for the Looney Tunes.
  • Heel-Face Turn: The Nerdlucks change sides after they use their Monstar forms to beat the stuffing out of their abusive boss. Afterwards, they join the Toons and return the talent they stole.
  • Hello, Nurse!: Lola's appearance has all the toons (and Jordan) pause momentarily, but Bugs... never quite recovers from seeing her the first time.
  • In-Character Commentaries: One DVD release has it from Bugs and Daffy.
  • Inspirational Insult: Occurs twice with Lola Bunny. During the tryouts at Schlesinger's Gym, Bugs Bunny puts the move on Lola, asking, "You wanna play a little one-on-one, doll?" Lola's Fireball Eyeballs signal that she severely dislikes being regarded as a pretty face and nothing more. She quickly leaves Bugs in a ridiculous knot at the foul line, and throws down an impressive jam. Later, during the Ultimate Game, the Monstar Pound challenges Lola, "Try to get by me, doll." After disarranging Pound's face, Lola throws down another strong jam. Notable in that these are the only times that Lola Bunny is seen scoring points.
  • I Resemble That Remark: Said by Foghorn Leghorn (the Trope Namer) when the Monstars visit the Toons' gym to meet and taunt Michael.
  • Ironic Echo: Watch the ending to the basketball game while listening to "I Believe I Can Fly".
  • Juxtaposed Halves Shot: a variation is used in one of the film's posters with Michael Jordan beside Bugs Bunny and half of their mugs at the left and right side of the poster rather than the usual "split in the middle" version.
  • Kick the Dog: When Tweety stands up for Michael, the Monstars swat him down.
  • Lampshade Hanging: It's a blatantly commercial movie that ropes WB's stable of beloved cartoon characters into shilling for basketball... but they know this and want you to know that they know. How can you tell? Observe:
    Michael Jordan: You guys are nuts.
    Porky Pig: Ah bu- bu- bu- correction, we're Looney Tunes.
    Daffy Duck: And as such, property of Warner Brothers, Inc.!
    (Daffy lifts up his WB-stamped butt and kisses it.)
    Daffy Duck: Mmmmwah!
    • And this:
      Bugs Bunny: Hey, uh, you see all those toys and lunch boxes with our pictures on it [in the Jordan kids' rooms]?
      (Beat. Just long enough for you to start thinking, "Aww, they're touched...")
      Bugs Bunny: Ever notice we don't get a peep outta all dem royalties?
      Daffy Duck: We've got to get a new agent. We're getting screwed! (This line is ironically edited by splicing out the "we're getting screwed" part when Cartoon Network airs this).
  • Liquid Assets: Sports ability can be siphoned out of someone and placed into a basketball for someone else to use.
  • Literal Ass Kissing: See the first Lampshade Hanging example.
  • Lock and Load Montage: When the toons are preparing for the game they gear up in this fashion.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: The Monstars' Anthem. Despite featuring some amazing rhymes from LL Cool J, Method Man, and more, only the chorus is used.
  • Male Gaze: After beating Bugs at a game between the two of them, Lola leaves the scene in an exaggerated swaying motion with her hips, leaving all the males in the room flabbergasted. And Bugs...he's barely able to stand.
  • Magic Countdown: The final 10 seconds, played to absurdity because this is Looney Toon land.
  • Medium Blending: The live action Michael Jordan interacting with toons in their world, and the toons coming to his world.
  • Merchandise-Driven: As mentioned above, the concept for the film was inspired by a popular series of Nike ads featuring Jordan and the Looney Tunes characters. Warner Bros. also wanted to reinvigorate the Looney Tunes, which had lacked any new material for quite some time and were surviving purely on this trope (given the reaction of the typical Looney Tunes fan, this didn't work out so well). Daffy lampshades this by noting that they are getting screwed, as they haven't been paid for any merchandise. Stan lampshades Jordan's shilling by incorporating every product he has ever endorsed into a single sentence while asking him to wake up and get ready for practice.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The Teaser takes place during Jordan's childhood, then for the main titles shifts to Stock Footage of his basketball career.
  • Mood Whiplash: The beginning of the movie has a very somber scene where a young Michael Jordan is speaking with his father, then he takes a shot at a basketball hoop, which kicks off the movie. This would be great....if it was a documentary about his life. Unfortunately, it segues into a music intro featuring silhouettes of him and Bugs Bunny and the music is much less somber. In fact, most of the parts of the movie that involve the real world in a non comedic context are almost devoid of levity, which is rather jarring given the overall premise is a comedy. The players going through psychological tests ("I'm never gonna go out with Madonna again.") and visiting a psychic (see Cassandra Truth) are probably the only real world scenes which try to be funny.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Lola Bunny. See Hello, Nurse!.
  • Mythology Gag: There aren't very many direct references to the cartoon plots, but there are a few. For example, when Michael falls into Looney Tunes land, Daffy shows up dressed as a doctor and gives him a very madcap checkup. This is a reference to The Daffy Doc, which at the time went over the heads of many as that and many other Clampett Era cartoons were rarely rerun when the movie was released.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The Nerdlucks might not have thought to do the whole talent-sucking thing if the Loony Tunes hadn't shown them a video that said 'the best players in the world' gathered in one place. Then again, who would have thought they could steal talent?
  • No Fourth Wall:
    • Bill Murray tells Daffy that the whole reason he's in Looney Land is because he was good friends with the producer of the movie. Daffy responds with a scoff and a, "Oh. So that's how it goes."
    • The Tunes examine the Nerdlucks' weakpoints by analyzing a large design chart... the very same line-up used to animate the new characters in the film.
  • No Name Given: The Nerdlucks/Monstars are never given names in the film; however, they are mentioned in the ending credits, toys, and storyboards, they are Pound (the orange one), Blanko (the blue one), Bang (the green one), Bupkus (the purple one) and Nawt (the red one).
  • Non Sequitur Thud:
    • Daffy after getting clobbered. "But Mommy, I don't want to go to school today. I want to stay home and bake cookies with you."
    • "Twinkle, twinkle, little star!" was uttered by Daffy after a run-in with Michael's dog.
  • Oh Crap: The Looney Tunes after the Nerdlucks turn into The Monstars.
  • One-Winged Angel: The weak and tiny Nerdlucks use the talent of basketball players to transform into the powerful and huge Monstars.
  • Placebo Effect: Michael has the Tune Squad try out his "Secret Stuff" making then think, it'll give them an edge during the remainder of the game, when it's really just water.
  • Power Parasite: How the Nerdlucks become the Monstars: by stealing the talent of famous basketball players.
  • Product Placement: Satirized when Stan tells Michael, "Put your Hanes on, lace up your Nikes, grab some Wheaties and your Gatorade, we'll go get a Big Mac, on the way to the Ball Park [Franks]." All of those things were products that Michael Jordan had been a sponsor for around that time.
  • Punch Clock Villains: The Nerdlucks, aka the Monstars. They only compete against the Looney Tunes because Swackhammer threatened them and wanted them in his theme park by any means possible. When they realize that they're physically bigger than him by the end of the film, they toss him back to Moron Mountain and ask the Looney Tunes characters if they can stay with them.

Bugs: Well, dat's all, Folks.
Porky: Hey, th-th-that's my line! A-th-th-th—
Daffy: Stand aside, Bub! Let a star do this! THAT'S ALL, F—
Nerdlucks: That's all, Folks!
Michael Jordan: Can I go home now?

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alternative title(s): Space Jam
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