A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Space Jam is a 1996 live/animated comedy in which Michael Jordan joins Bugs Bunny and other Warner Brothers cartoon characters to defeat the "Monstars." Keeping with the tradition of older Warner Brothers cartoons, there's quite a bit of cartoon violence and exaggerated pratfalls. There's also some potty humor involving flatulence, and Porky Pig announcing, "I wet myself." Some of the jokes veer into adult territory, like a psychiatrist asking a basketball player who has lost his ability to play basketball if he is "unable to perform" in other areas. The main bad guy smokes a cigar. Gratuitous product placement in one scene, where Michael Jordan sips from a McDonald's soft drink cup while another character rattles off the names of four other brands. One of the characters is overweight, and there are constant jokes made about it at his expense. "Hell" and "sucks" are said.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Made shortly after Michael Jordan's first retirement from basketball and his short foray into professional baseball, SPACE JAM marks an attempt to revive the Looney Tunes franchise by creating a big-budget live-action/animation feature riding on the basketball superstar's coattails. Bugs, Porky, Tweety, and other favorite Looney Tune characters assemble a basketball team, including Michael Jordan as a member, to defeat a group of aliens, the Nerdlucks, who are trying to enslave the Tunes as attractions in their outer space theme park.
Is it any good?
This movie does little to revive the Looney Tunes characters, who pretty much stick to their tried and true (and violent) antics, even in a new setting. As for Jordan, his athletic prowess need not be proven, but the mix of animation in the basketball sequences tends to trivialize his abilities. With cartoon characters bouncing around every which way and easily slam-dunking the ball, Jordan's acrobatics seem minor in comparison.
While the film fails on many counts to best utilize the characters at its disposal, it's still likely to impress younger viewers, especially those without any sentimental attachment to the original Looney Tunes cartoons. By standing up against their potential slave masters, the Tunes' efforts are admirable, so the overall message is fairly positive. Jokes about merchandising and Jordan's ill-fated baseball career are thrown in for the older folks.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether or not they think the blending of animation and live-action in Space Jam works. Would this movie have been better as a completely animated feature?
How does the movie use product placement? Why do you think some movies advertise products within the scenes? What are your thoughts on product placement in movies?
How was cartoon violence used for the sake of comedy, and how does the violence allude to older Warner Brothers cartoons?
- In theaters: November 15, 1996
- On DVD or streaming: October 28, 2003
- Cast: Bill Murray, Michael Jordan, Wayne Knight
- Director: Joe Pytka
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Space and Aliens
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild cartoon violence
- Last updated: June 10, 2020
Our editors recommend
For kids who love sports and cartoons
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch