Space Jam

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Space Jam 5458.jpg

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


No, this is not related to the jam used in Spaceballs to block out a radar.

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. [1] According to this film, saving the Looney Tunes is the reason why he returned to basketball.

The movie divides opinions to date.

The film was met with mixed reaction by critics, but was successful at the box office, with $230 million worldwide. It's not to be confused with Looney Tunes Back in Action, which is officially a Retcon (read, an attempt from Warner Bros to fix its Broken Base, which didn't work out so well financially; this is a polite way of saying it bombed massively). It did receive a sequel in 2021 starring LeBron James called Space Jam: A New Legacy.

Tropes used in Space Jam include:
  • Actor Allusion: When Bill Murray appears in the game, Swachkhammer confuses him with Dan Aykroyd. Murray and Aykroyd did the Ghostbusters movies together, which were directed by producer Ivan Reitman. Murray also mentions that Harold Ramis gave him a ride to the portal. Murray and Ramis also did Ghostbusters together, along with Stripes (also directed by Reitman) and Groundhog Day.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Amusing Injuries: Done with both the Looney Tunes and - eerily - the live-action actors.
  • Angry Guard Dog: Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck have to deal with an angry dog as they get Michael Jordan ready for his game.
  • Art Shift: Mr. Swackhammer fantasizing about Jordan in Moron Mountain (it's not what it sounds like).
  • Asskicking Pose: Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam do this during the second half slapstick montage. It's a direct Shout-Out to Pulp Fiction, in fact.
  • Award Bait Song: "I Believe I Can Fly" by R. Kelly.
  • Bad Boss: While Swackhammer seems to care about his customers, the same cannot be said for his employees. Deconstructed when the Nerdlucks realize that they have a way to get their revenge on him.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Lola Bunny.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animals: 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: Don't call Lola "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.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Tweety Bird is surprisingly hostile and mean when not "on set".
  • 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.

"Hey! I didn't know Dan Aykroyd Aykroyd was in this picture!"


"I, I, I, I wet myself."

  • Bull Seeing Red: Used at one point when Daffy paints Pound's butt 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 Mon-star in the gluteus maximus, sending him into the air screaming.

Crowd: Ole!


Daffy Duck: [Sarcastically] That's right, everybody 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 Toon tie-in games, and The Looney Tunes Show.
  • 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 the talents of. 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.
  • 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.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The Nerdlucks/Monstars
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Mr. Swackhammer.
  • Composite Character: The film actually makes a few nods to the evolutions of certain Looney Tunes characters. Daffy in particular is an almost 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: In many, many parts of the film.
  • Conspicuous Trenchcoat: For once, someone actually notices how strange this disguise is.
  • 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. Ironically, it was hinted that they could have done that before they transformed into the Monstars...they have no issue threatening Bugs Bunny even when they're far smaller than him, and their laser weapons pulverize Yosemite Sam.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: The Nerdlucks don't start off this way, but once they become the Monstars, everything changes.
  • Ears as Hair: Lola ties her ears back in a ponytail.
  • Efficient Displacement
  • 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.
  • Fireball Eyeballs: Lola, when Bugs first calls her "doll".
  • 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)
    • Token Good Teammate: Blanko (blue) (doesn't seem particularly evil compared to the rest)
  • Five-Man Band: The introductory team:
  • Gaiden Game: Considered canon for Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden.
  • G-Rated Drug/Magic Feather: Michael's Secret Stuff, which is really water, but the toons treat it as steroids. Daffy notes this is wrong. Using the basketball player's talent is made to look like this on the alien's side.
    • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Daffy notes that taking "drugs" goes against everything he learned in Health Class. Michael's response: "You want to win, right?" This convinces Daffy.
    • Though one has to keep in mind the toons were losing badly at this point and and a complete loss would've lead to enslavement on the Nerdluck world. It was more of a choice of the lesser of two evils.
    • I always presumed Daffy was talking about the fact he was drinking from the same bottle four other characters drank out off. It is never a good idea to share spit with people. He was quite willing to drink the water when Bugs first showed it. His concern only comes up after everybody used it.
  • "Growing Muscles" Sequence: The Nerdlucks transforming into the Monstars. 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.
  • Hold Up Your Score
  • Human-Focused Adaptation: Pretty much most of the movie is devoted to Michael Jordan.
  • I Believe I Can Fly: This trope doesn't appear in the film, but R. Kelly's hit song from the movie is the Trope Namers.
  • Image Song: "Hit 'Em High (The Monstars' Anthem)" and "Buggin'".
  • I Resemble That Remark: Said by Foghorn Leghorn (the Trope Namers) 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".
  • Invincible Hero: Subverted when Bugs Bunny encounters the Monstars. At first glance, it seems that he can outsmart them like he does regularly with Elmer Fudd. But the Monstars awesomely prove him wrong.
  • 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:

Porky Pig: Ah bu- bu- bu- correction, we're Looney Tunes.
Daffy: And as such, property of Warner Brothers, Inc.!
(Daffy lifts up his WB-stamped butt and literally kisses it.)
Daffy: Mmmmwah!

    • And this:

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.
    • Revisited somewhat during the second half of the basketball game, but subverted.
  • Literal Ass Kissing: See the first Lampshade Hanging example.
  • Lock and Load Montage: When the toons are preparing for the game.
  • Magic Countdown: The final 10 seconds, played to absurdity.
  • Medium Blending
  • 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 (of course, 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.
  • 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 totally 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.
  • 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!" also qualifies, which was also uttered by Daffy after a run-in with Michael's dog.
  • One-Winged Angel: The weak and tiny Nerdlucks use the talent of basketball players to transform into the powerful Monstars.
  • Powers as Programs: Basketball talent can be traded between the aliens and players.
    • Power Parasite: Stealing Basketball talent is a specialty of the Nerdlucks.
  • 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! But in reality, there were sliiiiiiightly less Tunes involved.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Near the end the Nerdlucks are implied to have joined the Looney Tunes cast, but unlike Lola they haven't been seen in any Looney Tunes media since.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: Just with a different rabbit. Or two.
  • Rule of Funny: Runs on it.
  • Self-Deprecation: The Looney Tunes being Merchandise-Driven.

Bugs: Speaking of toys, you know all those mugs and t-shirts lunchboxes with our pictures on em?
Daffy: Yeah.
Bugs: You, uh, ever seen any money from all that stuff?
Daffy: (scoff) Not a cent.
Bugs: Hm, me neither.
Daffy: (sigh) It's a crying shame. We gotta get new agents, we're getting screwed.



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--
Nerdlucks: That's all, Folks!
Michael Jordan: Can I go home now?

  1. In fact, part of the deal was for Jordan to be provided with state of the art training facilities between takes.