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Cartoon Culture

LeBron James Ditches “Space Jam”

A College Humor commentary on NBA player LeBron James that shows what would happen if he was in Space Jam instead of Michael Jordan. Probably makes more sense if you follow basketball. It’s an interesting day and age when unsanctioned cartoons using the Looney Tunes characters stay truer to the personalities of the characters than the official product that Warner Bros. is producing.

Director: Matt Pollock
Animation: Mike Parker
VFX: Gloo Studios
Director of Post Production: Michael Schaubach
Post Production Producer: Lacy Wittman
Editor: Drew Nissen
Producer: Creight Desimone

  • Lala_Marin

    I caught Space Jam when it aired last week, and am not embarrassed to say that although I’m no longer a 9-year-old, I still enjoy it. The character designs were good, the animation was pretty solid, the Looney Tunes themselves stayed true to character, and Billy West’s Bugs was spot on (which raises questions about the voice casting on the new Looney Tunes show).

    That said, with the movie fresh on my mind, and coming from a family that follows basketball very closely (though I much prefer hockey), I laughed pretty hard at this funny little short. I’m sitting in a library right now, so it’s not like I didn’t try to just chuckle.

  • From the sports-illiterate audience:
    The basketball jokes are like a foreign language.
    So, this is either good or bad or mediocre, depending.

    • NC

      To help everyone here out here are the cliff notes. LeBron James was the starting forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Ohio being his home state and all the records he was making was forming him into the Kobe Bryant of Cleveland. So needless to say the whole city loved him. He ends up returning that love by becoming a free agent and leaving his hometown for the Miami Heat accusing the Cavs of holding him back. After demanding that ESPN hold a two hour press conference to hear his decision. Needless to say if LeBron James is a douche.

      In animator terms it would be like John Lasseter Leaving Pixar to work on James Cameron’s Avatar II, which would be a complete rip off of Lion King, and then talk shit about animators after the fact.

      This video, which was a parody of a LeBron James Nike commercial explains it better

  • Oliver

    How lame, how sycophantic, was ‘Space Jam’?

    If Michael Jordon had played the entire movie wearing a Kim Jong-il mask, it could’ve passed for a North Korean propaganda film. THAT’S how lame and sycophantic!

    Bugs playing second fiddle to a basketball player?! Bugs’ll still be remember years after Michael Jordan has dribbled his arthritic last in some retirement home.

    • Lala_Marin

      Space Jam was ridiculous, goofy, self indulgent, and not the best film I’ve ever seen, but it was enjoyable. This is due in part to both the blatant Michael Jordan propaganda and the Looney Tunes being fairly well utilized. No, I’ll never like Lola Bunny, but Bugs and Daffy were actually Bugs and Daffy.

      Propoganda aside, Michael Jordan is arguably the most talented basketball player to have ever graced the court. Lebron really has done nothing to warrant the hype surrounding him, but the Chicago Bulls retired the number 23 for a reason. Jordan will be remembered long after his (hopefully far off) death because he was not a great basketball player, but a great sportsman, which is where a lot of this video’s criticism of Lebron comes from.

      Forgive me for getting so worked up, but I dislike the baseless dismissal of athletes who actually deserve their acclaim about as much as I dislike the way animation is looked down upon by the general public. There is animation that deserves to be ignored, “The Lion King 2” specifically comes to mind. There are also a lot of overpaid athletes whose brief yet flashy careers should and will most likely be forgotten after they’ve permanently injured themselves and can no longer play.

      But honestly, Space Jam is not Lion King 2, and when a man’s full name becomes synonymous with prodigiousness in ANY GIVEN FIELD, not just his own area of expertise, he deserves a little respect.

      • Funkybat

        I think that, for those who have no real interest or affinity in sports, very little will ever change the mind of people who see pro sports stars as universally undeserving egomaniacs.

        As an animator and illustrator who is also a follower of most major sports, I’ve found that I’m in the minority. Most other artists I know are either occasional or passive fans of a couple of teams, or are just plain not interested in pro sports. I don’t really follow basketball as much as the other pro sports, but I got the jokes for the most part.

        That said, while I respect Jordan, I didn’t find Space Jam to be all that entertaining. I felt Jordan was a distraction from the toons, unlike “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, where the humans and toons co-existing felt less contrived. I’d say “Back In Action” was better in this regard. It also helped I like Brendan Fraser and Jenna Elfman more as actors than I do “Jordan as actor.”

    • Anthony Coleman

      Oliver is crazy. Michael Jordan was the most famous athlete, possibly most famous person in the world, during his peak. He probably still is even though he has been retired for years. There were literally people in the most remote part of the world who were wearing the red number 23 bulls jersey and who could recognize his photo (I am not making this up). I love the old Looney Tunes/ Merrie Melodies and Space Jam was just a publicity stunt for both Jordan and Warner Bros., but you’re living in a dream world if you believe Jordan won’t be remembered 100 Years from now. Babe Ruth is still the most famous baseball player in the world by people who never watched it, and he actually predated Mickey Mouse. People still know who Ali is and they never watched him fight, same with Pele in Soccer, Gretzky in Hockey and Jim Brown in football. As long as there will be millions of people watching and playing those sports the legends will always be remembered. End of Rant.

  • I didn’t understand all the lines but how is this truer to the Looney Tunes personality than the new Looney Tunes Show? I mean, maybe, but this is just spoofing Space Jam and the characters don’t do much, just similar things to what they were doing in that movie. There’s nothing especially inspired about what the Looney Tunes do here. I haven’t watched the Looney Tunes Show yet but its attempt-failed or not-is to introduce a new dynamic. Criticism based on that they are not acting like they should is getting a little obvious now. We’ll have to judge if the reinvention work. I don’t think it’s wrong to compare it to the classics or ask for some of their basic personalities, but if some things are a little different, you may like it or not, but it’s on purpose.

    Personally I don’t find anything too wrong with that Elmer’s clip. He’s still a dumb guy. He looks like an average man, a role Elmer played in some cartoons. His non-hunting, urban-type personality has been shown before. It’d probably work better to me if his love for the sandwich were more romantic and less sexual-not a fan of the last scene-but then again, at least it’s a little risky/adult. I’d cut the bed scene cause it’s getting too literal/weird to be fun, but not because it’s against Elmer Fudd’s personality or because it’s “too adult”. The rest of the clip is ok and has some nice animation in the first scenes.

    About “Space Jam” I am usually entertained by it, but it’s still pretty crappy in terms of film value. I find it difficult to call it a movie. It’s basically a very long commercial. It has the most contrived plot in history (followed by LT:Back In Action), the acting is quite bad or mediocre, there is not direction or personal style in the animation or the life action sequences. The new characters, I didn’t hate them (well, I did hate the Monstars, though I enjoyed the Nerdlucks), but they were not that memorable or similar to the LT spirit. But the animation wasn’t “bad”, it just wasn’t done with much taste or personality. The cartoons had decent jokes and lines.Nothing special, but tolerable. The life action had terrible jokes. All in all it’s an entertaining commercial but not a good movie. Like I said it’s hard to even call it a movie. Who Framed Roger Rabbit was a movie. Looney Tunes deserved much more in their first long feature, but I wouldn’t say it was a total failure in terms of vapid entertainment, a little like your average blockbuster/action movie.

    • amid

      …how is this truer to the Looney Tunes personality than the new Looney Tunes Show?

      Because none of the characters are portrayed as wealthy sexual perverts singing in a Barry White voice.

      • wes

        Nope. They never portrayed him as all of that in a single cartoon. They only pick and choose between being a pervert (how many times have he fallen in love with a five foot tall rabbit in lingerie), and a millionaire. Never both simultaneously.

        Combining it in a single cartoon — now that crossed the line. This can not stand!!!

      • You’re talking the joke too literally. If you think the gag is lame, that’s ok. I don’t think it’s all that great either. The concept is funny but the execution is 50/50. Well animated but it could have better visual jokes and a better song in terms of lyrics/rythm. If they were going to do a Barry White parody, they could have done it funnier and more catchy.

        What I don’t think it’s that it portrays Elmer as a pervert. It just a joke about how much he loves food after a day of hard work. That’s all. There’s nothing wrong about Elmer’s characterization in that.

        Yes, it does look sexual and yes, it’s exaggerated, but it’s not like he’s masturbating all over the sandwich. Even the bed scene can be interpreted as how much he enjoys dinner before he goes to bed (or in bed).

        They have done this kind of joke with Homer in The Simpsons a couple of times and nobody thought Homer was going to leave Marge for a sandwich, it’s just an hyperbole.

        Criticize the quality or execution of the joke if you want, but even though I don’t think this one is especially great, I actually approve adult or even sexual innuendos in a Looney Tunes Show, cause they were cartoons for adults in the first place. I won’t approve vulgarity, pornography or explicit scenes, but this is metaphoric and not in very bad taste.

      • amid

        They have done this kind of joke with Homer in The Simpsons a couple of times and nobody thought Homer was going to leave Marge for a sandwich, it’s just an hyperbole.

        The personalities of cartoon characters are not interchangeable. Homer’s personality is not Elmer’s, and never has been.

      • You’re right, but it’s just an example of how the same type of joke doesn’t make Homer ‘a pervert’.

        Elmer’s personality, when he’s not hunting, is kind of difuse. We know he’s really dumb and that’s pretty much it.

        I recall a Friz Freleng short (don’t remember the title cause it has never been a favourite of mine) in which Elmer had troubles to sleep.

        In that cartoon Elmer acts like an average man, and here he’s pretty much the same thing, but in the modern world. They gave him a job and they made him dream about the food he will find when he arrives home.

        That doesn’t make him necessarily a food lover like Homer, just a ‘grilled cheese’ lover, and only in this particular instance (after a day of hard work). I’m pretty sure this is just a gag for this videoclip and he will do different things in other episodes instead of just eating like a mad man, so I don’t see the big deal with his characterization at all.

        Now if he were acting like Quagmire that would be a severe change of his personality.

      • Metallicfire

        Maybe it’s different because the Simpsons was aimed mostly at adults (at least during the seasons that count) where as the Looney Toons Show’s target audience is… God only knows.

      • I just looked and it was a Chuck Jones short called Goodnight Elmer. I couldn’t remember wether it was one of the most slow paced Jones cartoons or Friz’.

      • Sorry for insisting so much but I’ve rewatched the grilled cheese clip and while I don’t think it’s perfect I think it’s pretty much clear that it’s hands down the funniest videoclip out of the three they have released yet (Yosemite Sam, Marvin and this one). It has the best concept and the best music, though Yosemite’s has some good gags and animation.

        To use a more succint argument: I’d find it a lot more ‘out of character’ if there were a beautiful woman waiting for Elmer at home instead of a grilled cheese sandwich.

  • “using the Looney Tunes characters stay truer to the personalities of the characters than the official product that Warner Bros. is producing.”

    Oh puh-leese. I presume you loved Space Jam then, seeing as this was essentially a flash animated version of that with a twist, and this is coming from someone that loved it as a kid and still kind of has a soft spot for it.

  • Glowworm

    Whoever voiced Bugs was pretty good.

    I laughed when Taz dissed Lebron’s mama.

  • You had to throw you opinion on The Looney Tunes for EVERYONE to see uh?

    I didn’t like Grilled Cheese either. But you need to listen to more BARRY WHITE , Because that was not it.

  • Hi guys!

    I actually did the voiceover for most of these guys. I played everybody except Bugs, Lola, Sniffles, and Foghorn Leghorn. Please don’t judge too harshly! It was a very daunting task to replicate the voices that mean so much to me. I’m primarily a puppeteer for tv and theater, but when this came up I had to take a stab. Hope the voices aren’t too rough!

    Thanks gang! Been a fan of this blog for years.

    • olivia delettrez

      screw all the complaining! it’s funny. (Even if I have passing knowledge of current NBA ‘stars’) Thanks for this Amid.

  • Al G

    They want a “fresh take” on LT and so they air a Barry White musical parody. Ten billion dollars and three years later. Worth every penny.

  • Mister Twister

    This was… awesome.

  • Yay! They finally finished it! I worked on this months ago. I animated on various parts of this whole thing, including that ending when they all get into the fight, starting with Taz. That took me days to do, mainly because of the tracking with the live action.

    • Chris was a life saver on this project! Sorry about the credit snub – CH just keeps using the same template for credits from like 3 years ago

      • Hey Mike. No sweat. I knew going in that CH didn’t put credits in their videos, but I did find it surprising when I saw only your name under animator. I know for every animated CH project that you work on, you do a ton of work, so I thought they just put the one with the most workload in the credit. I’m just glad to finally see it make the light of day.

  • Marc Baker

    I’m semi sports illiterate, but after watching this parody, I would assume that LeBron James is probably just another flash in the pan basketball player with an attitude. The characters depicted here were more in line with their classic selves than in the new ‘Looney Tunes Show’, but that’s about it. I agree that by comparison, Michael Jordon has always been A fairly good sportsman, but he kinda was A distraction to the Looney Tune characters. While that still make ‘Space Jam’ seem more like A 90 minute sneaker commercial, It still had some good moments, and the animation was quite good for the time. ‘Looney Tunes Back In Action’ is the better of the two mostly because it felt more like A ‘Looney Tunes’ movie, and some of the jokes were better. Kinda reminded me of Friz Freling’s ‘You Ought To Be In Pictures’.

  • Anthony Coleman

    As a big animation and basketball fan I loved this video and (for those who aren’t aware this is talking about Lebron’s move from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Miami Heat). Would have been more appropriate if he would have changed in street clothes, went out on center court, and made the announcement via interview with ESPN talking heads.

  • Lilo

    You know what, screw it, when I was 9 years old I thought seeing my favorite athlete with my favorite cartoon characters was the best thing ever. Granted, I tried to watch it a few months ago and didn’t make it twenty minutes in…

  • Jim

    Well I’m glad this is making fun of the film because for some reason I do not care for Space Jam. I used to love the movie alot but not anymore now. Who Framed Roger Rabbit is the film I should stick with.