Now that everyone seems to be settling into the new reality of self-quarantine and social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic, streaming has become an essential way to stave off the boredom and anxiety that tends to come with being locked up at home with nowhere to go. With Netflix now more vital to our collective sanity than ever, it may be the most opportune time to finally watch (or rewatch) this goofy ‘90s classic before it leaves Netflix for good.
The coronavirus hasn’t stopped movies from leaving Netflix and Space Jam will part ways with the ever-growing streaming library soon. Before it’s gone on April 30, however, let’s revisit what makes this sports comedy such a classic, and why it’s still well worth a watch.
Starring basketball icon Michael Jordan in his first and only feature film, Space Jam fictionally documents the two-year period between Jordan’s retirement from the sport in 1993 until his return in 1995. The film combines live-action with animation, introducing the beloved sports star to Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd and other classic Looney Tunes characters.
In short, the cartoon characters enlist Jordan to help train them for a basketball match in the hopes to win their freedom from the nefarious Mr. Swackhammer, who wants to capture the Looney Tunes and make them attractions at his Moron Mountain amusement park in space. Ghostbusters’ Bill Murray even gets in on all the action, swooping in at the last minute to assist the Tune Squad in their game against the Monstars, aka Mr. Swackhammer’s goons.
While Space Jam is far from the first film to combine animation and live-action, it remains one of the most culturally impactful films of the era, garnering a cult following and growing even more popular in the years since its release in 1996. The film is full of gags, pop culture references, and shameless product placement. It’s also jam-packed with celebrity and cartoon cameos, including The Simpsons’ Dan Castellaneta, best known for his voice work as Homer Simpson.
While it's a silly movie on the surface, there’s a lot of heart and humor at its core. Space Jam is ultimately about hopes and dreams, obligation, and reclaiming the love of basketball by teaching others. Trust us: it’s all in there if you’re willing to look past the surface-level zaniness. In the film, Jordan leaves his own dreams behind to take up baseball and follow in his father’s footsteps, reflecting the challenges many of us face when striking a balance between honoring parental expectations and achieving personal goals.
Space Jam is essentially a product of its time, a centerpiece of ‘90s idealism that heavily influenced millennials to do what they love no matter what. Just like in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the toons learn that while not everyone plays by the rules, teamwork makes the dream work.
Space Jam is currently available to stream on Netflix until April 30.