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Warner Home Video presents
Space Jam: SE (1996)

"I tought I taw—I did! I did! I did tee Michael Jordan!"
- Tweety Bird (Bob Bergen)

Review By: Kevin Clemons  
Published: December 15, 2003

Stars: Michael Jordan, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck
Other Stars: Danny DeVito, Wayne Knight, Theresa Randle, Bill Murray, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, Larry Bird, Mugsy Bogues
Director: Joe Pytka

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: PG for mild cartoon language
Run Time: 01h:28m:41s
Release Date: October 21, 2003
UPC: 085392753727
Genre: family


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B-A-A- B

DVD Review

If anything, Space Jam exists as the single greatest marketing tool in history. By including perhaps the greatest athlete to ever play a professional sport in Michael Jordan, as well as the stable of Looney Tunes characters that have become beloved by every generation since their introduction. This 1996 film effectively marries pop culture icons that had already generated billions in advertising dollars. And the marriage works quite well, as Space Jam, while almost nothing more than a ninety-minute commercial, is an effective blend of humor for all ages.

Space Jam begins with Michael Jordan in the midst of his failed attempt at a baseball career. At the same time, nearly the entire collection of beloved Looney Tunes characters have been kidnapped and banished to a planet where the Nerdlucks reside. The Nerdlucks are building a new amusement park and they need big name attractions, which the Looney Tunes boys easily provide. To get off of the planet, the Tunes make a deal with the Nerdlucks: if Bugs and the gang can beat them at a game of basketball, they will gain their freedom. The only catch is that the Nerdlucks have stolen the abilities of NBA superstars such as Larry Johnson, Charles Barkley, and Mugsy Bogues—but the Looney Tunes have Michael Jordan, so the game is on.

As a blend of animation and live action, Space Jam succeeds wonderfully. Several of the sequences are dazzling in their fluidity of interaction between Jordan and the Tunes. Take for instance the moment where Jordan gets sucked through a golf hole and into "Toon" land; you will see a perfect blend of formats meshing together so perfectly it is indeed a wonder to view. Directed by Joe Pytka, who directed a slew of Jordan's most famous television commercials, the film has the sleek look and feel of an overly long advertisement, but with the Tunes and Jordan involved, this is no surprise.

Aside from Bugs Bunny and Jordan, the film also excels with the supporting cast including the always welcome Bill Murray and Wayne Knight, in roles that give each a moment to shine, one of which is the film's funniest moment, involving Murray after the pivotal basketball game.

And yet for all of these positive aspects, the film still fails to offer a lasting effect. Upon its original release, I admired the film and its blend of animation and live action and, today, I still feel the same way, but there is still something lacking overal: emotion and heart, as the characters, animated or human, offer no real depth. I understand that this is a film that does not need to rely upon character development, but even a little would have been nice.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Finally presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer Space Jam looks fantastic. The cinematography for Space Jam features numerous sets that are adorned with bright colors that come off looking great in this transfer. Colors are phenomenal with terrific depth and vibrancy. Sharpness and detail are each nicely done giving the transfer the best film like presentation it has seen in its three DVD releases. Gone from the previous transfers are the compression artifacts as well as the mild edge enhancement. Warner Bros. finally got Space Jam right on the third try!

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
English, French, Spanishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 track for Space Jam is the same as the previous releases, but it is still a very nicely done mix. The surround speakers get the majority of the action especially in the cartoon world as every sound effect comes across with great directionality and depth. The .1 LFE track provides solid depth in the basketball sequences as well as when the largely hip-hop soundtrack comes into play. This is a very nicely done mix.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu
Scene Access with 28 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Joe Pytka, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: 2 disc slip case
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Bonus Looney Tunes shorts
Extras Review: As well as the new anamorphic widescreen transfer, the special features are where this edition of Space Jam separates itself from the others. There are a handful of extra features that were also included in the previous release, including the feature-length commentary track with director Joe Pytka, Bugs Bunny, and Daffy Duck. The track is dominated by Bunny and Duck (am i really writing this?) as director Pytka offers very little throughout the track. What the cartoon characters have to say is often hysterical, while having virtually nothing to do with the film. Still, this is an insanely funny track that should provide a good listen for anyone regardless of age.

Rounding out Disc One is the original theatrical trailer in nonanamorphic widescreen with Dolby Surround.

Disc Two:

Leading off the second disc is a 20-minute featurette, Jammin with Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny. This is a largely promotional piece that fails to offer much insight into the making of the film. Instead, it deals largely with the star power of Jordan and the inclusion of an icon such as Bugs Bunny and plays a lot off of the pop culture status of the pair.

The crown jewel of the second disc is the inclusion of five Looney Tunes shorts that are of newer vintage, but are entertaining nonetheless. The highlight of the group is Another Froggy Evening, featuring everyone's favorite croaker, Michigan J. Frog. The remainder of the group are frustratingly average in quality, a disappointment given that they are Looney Tunes shorts and their inclusion on DVD is something special.

Finally, two music videos are offered, including Seal performing Fly Like an Eagle and Hit Em' High by Monstars Anthem.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Space Jam is a fine film for the family and fans of the Looney Tunes and Jordan alike, but those expecting a terrific animated film will be sorely disappointed. The newly released special edition offers a small number of valuable extra features and some new Looney Tunes shorts, which represent the best reason to own this disc. Recommended.

 


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