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 kidnap them 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 In fact, part of the deal was for Jordan to be provided with state of the art training facilities between takes. 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 canon.Not related to the jam used in Spaceballs.
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.
All There in the Manual: The names of the aliens who would become the Monstars, and the name of their pre-Monstar species (Nerdluck).
All-Star Cast: An odd case. Michael Jordan and a bunch of other basketball stars working with Bugs Bunny. Yeah.
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 something with his "essence" (the thing that allows him to play basketball well), Daffy gets to deal with Jordan's very, very angry guard dog.
Art Shift: Mr. Swackhammer fantasizing about Jordan in Moron Mountain (it's not what it sounds like). 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Daffy Duck:[Sarcastically] Very funny. Let's all laugh at the Duck.
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).
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.
The Cast Showoff: Not in the movie itself, but Billy West, who voices Bugs and a majority of the Looney Tunes characters perform a rap song on the soundtrack called "Buggin'", which is all him singing to himself in his Looney Tunes voices.
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.
Micheal (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.
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.
Bugs' body stiffens and hits the floor with a wood like sound upon meeting Lola.
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!"
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.
Ironic Echo: Watch the ending to the basketball game while listening to "I Believe I Can Fly".
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!
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...")
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.
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.
Mythology Gag: There aren't very many direct references to the cartoon plots, but there are a few. For example, when 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?
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).
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.
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.
Reality Subtext: Michael Jordan did indeed return to basketball after a stint at baseball (where he was set to retire into at the time) and led the Chicago Bulls to victory on his first game since retiring! in reality, there were sliiiiiiightly less Tunes involved.
The Stinger/That's All, Folks!: Bugs comes up and says it when the credits end, but then Porky shows up to say it himself. Daffy interrupts and tries to say it, but the Nerdlucks knock him down and say it. Michael Jordan then appears in his Toon Squad jersey, asking, "Can I go home, now?"
Very Loosely Based on a True Story: As noted in the opening, the film covers Michael Jordan's retirement from basketball in favor of baseball and ends with him returning to basketball. In real life, these events took place, but they involved fewer cartoon characters and alien slavers. Thus, the Looney Tunes and Nerdlucks could be interpreted as Gumps.
You Didn't Ask: When Jordan finds out that Cartoon Physics apply to Real World people as well in Tune-land. "Ten seconds to go? Thanks for telling me... Doc."
Bugs: Eh, 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—