In 1996, at the height of Michael Jordan's fame and popularity, Warner Bros. Released a feature film that featured Jordan as a live-action character in a cartoon world. Actually, he wasn't a character at all; he just played himself along side such cartoon notables as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.
Directed by Joe Pytka, and featuring the voices of, among others, Billy West and Danny Devito, Space Jam was Jordan's first feature film appearance, and a rather unusual one at that. The film features a tongue-in-cheek treatment of Jordan and his career as a superstar and a pure fantasy plot involving a parallel cartoon universe. When a group of Looney Tunes cartoon stars, including Bugs and Daffy, are kidnapped by some evil aliens, the cartoon characters hatch a plot to free themselves using the basketball talents of Michael Jordan., which he displays to good effect in the film's finale.
The film's animators smoothly combined live-action footage with hand-drawn and computer-generated animations, allowing the cartoon characters to travel from their cartoon universe to ours, and to pull Jordan from our universe into theirs. Space Jam, declared Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times, "is a happy marriage of good ideas—three films for the price of one, giving us a comic treatment of the career adventures of Michael Jordan, crossed with Looney Tunes cartoon and some showbiz warfare…. The result is delightful, a family movie in the best sense (whichmeans the adults will enjoy it, too)."
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