Almost 18 years ago (yep, 18 years) America was graced with the theatrical powerhouse that was Space Jam. Starring Michael Jordan, Wayne Knight, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Muggsy Bogues and Larry Johnson, this cartoon/live action movie is a favorite among many from my generation. Movie reviewer extraordinaire, Leonard Maltin, gave it three stars saying that it’s “a ‘high-concept’ movie that actually works,”…”the computer generated special effects are a collective knockout.” Maltin also gives Bugs Bunny top billing in the movie over Michael Jordan, so hold on to that if you ever find yourself playing the Leonard Maltin game.
Take these facts for a spin… in its opening week, Space Jam was #1 at the theaters, with a mark of $27.5 million in domestic box office revenue. It was in the top 20 highest grossing films that debuted 1996, with the seventh best opening weekend of that year ,behind Independence Day, Mission: Impossible, Twister, Ransom, 101 Dalmations, and Star Trek: First Contact. It had a higher opening weekend than The Rock, Jerry Maguire, Eraser and The Nutty Professor. Space Jam is also the highest-grossing (in theaters) basketball movie of all time.
Some people in February had heard tell of a potential Space Jam sequel to take place, making its quick rounds among the internet water cooler. The rumor going around the interwebs was that LeBron James was to be the star of said sequel, while he was quick to dismiss the rumor. Rumblings quickly went around sites like Buzzfeed and Reddit that there was no need for a Space Jam sequel because the first one was so good/criminally underrated (although Roger Ebert gave it 3.5/4, and you’ve seen Maltin’s review above). I was surprised to hear in podcasts to and from work over the last couple of weeks of celebrities, comedians, etc. who think this movie is just plain awful. On more than 3-4 occasions, this sequel news came up, and comedians just laughed it down. So should the sequel happen or not?
If it doesn’t, it’s probably for the best. Sometimes lightning doesn’t strike twice, and trying to resurrect a gem like Space Jam for a second time just doesn’t seem feasible. That being said, if they DID make a sequel, can you imagine how many Kentucky players would have parts in that movie? Let’s say they kept the same plot, and they took five UK players from the NBA and made them into the MonStars to face off against LeBron James and the Toon Squad. Could you imagine?
Clearly, the tall skinny blue one (Blanko/Shawn Bradley) would be Anthony Davis, swapping the teeth for the unibrow. The hulking green one with the flat top (Bang/Patrick Ewing) would be Nerlens Noel. The small skinny red alien (Nawt/Muggsy Bogues) would have to be John Wall or Rajon Rondo. Then the orange alien (Pound/Charles Barkley) would be DeMarcus Cousins. Finally, the purple one (Bubkis/Larry Johnson), hmm, let’s say, Terrance Jones, so he could hopefully make the new “I Believe I Can Fly” by performing “Real T-Jones, Teach ’em ’bout Kentucky.”
So why do I say this resurgence, or rather a rising of a sequel, is unnecessary? Because it is. Let us enjoy Space Jam once every couple of months it comes on VH1 for the entire weekend (May 2 – 8:00 PM/May 3 – 11:30 AM) . Let us vaguely remember that cameo from Bill Murray where a light bulb goes off in our head, “Oh yeah, Bill Murray was in Space Jam…” Let people like Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan (who does an incredible Barkley), Paul Scheer, Danielle Fishel (Topanga), Ben Schwartz, Nick Kroll (who has never seen Space Jam), and Seth Green do a table read of Space Jam at UCB in Los Angeles and release it for the world to see (some NSFW language):
Space Jam doesn’t need to have a sequel. It doesn’t need to hulk up for the second half. Warner Bros. just needs to realize that Space Jam had the special stuff inside itself all along the first go-around