One of this century's loveliest collisions between high modernist art and popular culture took place when Warner Bros. cartoons started becoming self-reflexive. Familiar characters began talking back to their creators, or found themselves bleeding over into the real world.
These days, in the era of Michael Jackson's Moonwalker (1988) and Yahoo Serious' Reckless Kelly (1993), such pop modernist conceits have a bizarrely inward quality. They are self-congratulatory allegories about celebrity, mass production and, above all, the eager audience of paying consumers.
Space Jam is an odd little number. Listlessly
aping Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), it creates a surreal
universe in which American sports star Michael Jordan can interact with Bugs
Bunny and Daffy Duck. The plot is inane:
For all the elaborate effects work, it is an unexciting and unfunny mélange. Most of the idolatrous references to American sporting culture were lost on the Australian children with whom I saw it, and their parents were tickled only by an amusing split-second homage to Pulp Fiction (1994).
be forgiven for thinking that the hero of this film is neither
Indeed, Space Jam sums itself up perfectly when it has Daffy impulsively kiss the Warner Bros. logo imprinted on his own backside.
© Adrian Martin December 1996