Top critical review
This movie is the pits. A disgrace for the Looney Tunes. Objectively terrible and unfunny.
Reviewed in the United States on March 9, 2019
I never watched Space Jam before and didn't have the nostalgia glasses on (even grew up in the 90s and 2000s myself), but wanted to go in with the hope that this movie would actually be half-decent. What the hell was I thinking? Everything about this movie is just off. Wayne Knight, whom I loved from Seinfeld, barely managed to crack a chuckle out of me at all. Michael Jordan as amazing as a basketball player as he could be just didn't do it for me either and his acting in the film felt wooden and not all there to me. Bugs Bunny, my favorite Looney Tunes character ever, just felt like watching someone who had never seen a single original WB short from the Golden Age try to write what they thought was Bugs.
A carbon cheap imitation of him who was a total wimp against those stupid Monstar characters in the film, not helped by Billy West's take on the character, and I LOVE Billy West too. He was terrific as Stimpy, Fry, and so many of my other favorite modern cartoon characters. I just never liked his take on Bugs that much, and prefer what the late Joe Alaskey, Jeff Bergman, or Eric Bauza much better honestly for that role. His love interest Lola wasn't that good in this either, but thankfully in The Looney Tunes Show, they made her a much funnier character and not just a walking sex symbol either.
The whole movie seemed like a product placement for McDonald's, Nike, and so many other huge name brands. The best way to sum up the film is it's a whole 2-hour long commercial, and quite fitting since you had Joe Pytka direct this thing, and he was well known for all his iconic ads at the time and even now too. Some of this film is a guilty pleasure for me, like that theme song by the Quad City DJs.
I will give the movie some credit there, I still sometimes have the song stuck in my head, but I have to put that aside and look at the film from the perspective of a Looney Tunes fan and whether it really holds up that well 20+ years later, and it just doesn't for me at all. If you like this movie despite its faults, that's fine.
However, I think I'll stick with the original Looney Tunes shorts, Duck Dodgers, Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, the new Looney Tunes shorts that are coming out soon, and all the shorts Greg Ford and Terry Lennon did together with these characters if I want to see much better representations of these classic characters in action. At least the folks behind those productions actually cared at all and you could tell they worked hard.
That's my biggest problem with the movie itself. It seems that the people behind it didn't have that much passion or care about the characters or the world they were working with. The concept of this movie had so much potential, but it was ultimately wasted on idiotic product placement nonsense, soulless writing, and a fundamental misunderstanding of what the Looney Tunes have always been about. I will give this movie another thing though. Compared to Filmation's Daffy Duck and Porky Pig Meet the Groovie Ghoulies, which I now consider to be the worst Looney Tunes-related thing ever made along with that crap Loonatics Unleashed cartoon, this movie feels brilliant compared to those steaming piles.
However, the movie still sucks royally on its own, which is why I still gave it a one-star rating. Avoid this movie at all costs if you want to see the Looney Tunes characters at their best. It's that terrible, outside of a few guilty pleasures you might get out of the film here and there. I just hope somehow they do a much better job with the Space Jam sequel and put some effort into making it decent. It would be an accomplishment if that movie ended up being marginally better.