Bil’s rating (out of 5): B
USA, 1996. Warner Bros. Family Entertainment, Northern Lights Entertainment, Courtside Seats Productions, Warner Bros. Animation, Warner Bros. Feature Animation. Screenplay by Leo Benvenuti, Steve Rudnick, Timothy Harris, Herschel Weingrod. Cinematography by Michael Chapman. Produced by Daniel Goldberg, Joe Medjuck, Ivan Reitman. Music by James Newton Howard. Production Design by Geoffrey Kirkland. Costume Design by Marlene Stewart. Film Editing by Sheldon Kahn.
We are familiar with, and know we must make peace with, the notion that movies are always a combination of art and commerce, but rarely does studio fare leave the artistic part out with such wild abandon as is done here. An unfortunate attempt to make Michael Jordan a movie star has him playing himself, announcing his retirement from basketball after a third championship with the Chicago Bulls. His desire is to play baseball instead, but he doesn’t know that on the distant planet of Moron Mountain, the Looney Tunes have been kidnapped by a villain (voiced by Danny DeVito) who wants to use them to drive up attendance at his outer space theme park. The ever-resourceful Bugs Bunny gets them out of their bondage by suggesting a contest to determine if he, Daffy, Porky and the gang have to stay: they will play a game of basketball against DeVito’s minions. Our bad guy is not interested in playing fair, however, sapping the power and talent out of the NBA’s finest stars (which provides Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Muggsy Bogues, Larry Johnson, and Shawn Bradley the opportunity to perform fainting spells on camera) and injecting them into the cartoon bodies of his minions to make them into athletic titans. What’s a wiseacre like Bugs to do, then, but find the retired Jordan and convince him to play on their side. You have pure concept with very little charm here, an attempt to recapture the mixed-media magic of Who Framed Roger Rabbit that fails because of ugly animation and a script that feels wholly assembled in studio brainstorming sessions.