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May 4 - Space Jam

Note from TheMirl.com: This is the newest installment of a regular series by Joel Blumberg reviewing
sports movies from all eras.

As the NBA playoffs continue, it’s business as usual for the players.  We’ll watch them display their
super human talents. We may even hear a post-game interview with a player after the game. These
clips which are supposed to be a breakdown of the game or a glimpse into the personality of the player
quite often are not much more than standard answers to lobbed questions.

There are no more Casey Stengels or Jimmy Piersalls or Rick Dempseys any more.  The Harlem
Globetrotters while still the clown princes of exhibition sports, now play serious games against NCAA
opponents.

And perhaps that’s why Space Jam was such a huge success.  It had all of the ingredients of pure fun,
something we do not see in NBA games, in particular, and professional sports, in general.

For those who are not familiar with the movie, it stars the real Michael Jordan along with animated,
although seemingly real, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety, Road Runner, the Tazmanian Devil and
basically just about every Warner Brothers animated star.

Of course, “Space Jam” also features Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Larry Johnson, Shawn
Bradley, Vlade Divac and Muggsy Bouges among other NBA stars. But the charm of the movie is in its
ability to humanize these robotic players. We all know of Jordan’s outward charm.  That, and the fact that
he is the greatest basketball of his era and arguably the greatest ever, is why he stars in this film.

While the story isn’t much, the individual vignettes and the interaction between the players and the
animated stars really give you a warm and fuzzy feeling. It makes you want to like these guys.

There are numerous people involved with the production of Space Jam. But technically, the whole
project was put together by director Joe Pytka.  For those cinemaphiles who do not recognize the name,
it is excusable.  But Pytka, one of the most respected and prolific commercial directors around, has won
numerous awards.

And if he never does another full length film, he’s nailed a 3 point buzzer beater with “Space Jam”.