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Space Jam: Special Edition

Joe Pytka's Space Jam must have seemed like a stroke of genius when it was first proposed to Warner Brothers Studios — a live-action/animation hybrid, featuring NBA superstar Michael Jordan and the classic Looney Tunes characters, in a basketball/sci-fi thriller? It was just the ticket for a studio going through a bit of a financial slump at the time, and indeed, Warner Brothers' eagerness to make the film was matched only by the public's enthusiasm to see it. Although Space Jam doesn't come close to the artistic triumph of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, it's still an agreeable flick, with Jordan and Bugs Bunny teaming up with Bill Murray, Daffy Duck, and a slew of other celebrities — both real and animated — to defeat a group of hostile aliens in the ultimate basketball playoffs. The stakes? The very survival of Earth. What Space Jam lacks in plot it more than makes up for in attitude, courtesy of its witty dialogue and stellar animation, and Warner's new special-edition DVD has a bounty of extra features (and replaces the feature-free version released in 1997). In addition to an isolated score, the disc contains three music videos (R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly," Seal's "Fly Like an Eagle," and the "Monstars' Anthem" theme, all of which are featured in the film). Other goodies include the movie's theatrical trailer, a plethora of production notes, and (best of all) a hilarious audio commentary track from director Joe Pytka and two of the film's biggest stars — Bugs and Daffy. Still, despite the novelty of Bugs' and Daffy's "remembrances," this DVD suffers from two infuriating omissions: the lack of a widescreen version (when will the studios learn that widescreen transfers aren't optional?), and the absence of a "making-of" featurette. Considering Space Jam's technical innovations, a behind-the-scenes documentary would have been fascinating; indeed, the inclusion of such a featurette seems like a foregone conclusion. Still, fans of animation and/or basketball will have a lot of fun with this title. Space Jam is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. Snap-case.
—Betsy Bozdech

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