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Saturday, September 25, 2021

The ‘Space Jam’ sequel

KEITH ALLISON / FLICKR
KEITH ALLISON / FLICKR

Everybody get up it’s time to slam now
We got a real jam goin’ down
Welcome to the Space Jam
Here’s your chance, do your dance at the Space Jam
Alright

I hope you sang those lyrics in your head in the same way the Quad City DJ’s dished them out back in 1996. Yes, we’re talking Space Jam. The iconic film starring none other than His Airness, Michael Jordan. If you love basketball, this was probably a staple of your childhood.

The ’90s were a beautiful decade in the NBA. Jordan, Pippen, Barkley, Shaq, Payton, Stockton, Malone, Robinson, Drexler, Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon. These guys made the decade one of the best in the history of basketball. I may have been too young to watch them in prime form, but the culture surrounding the ’90s continues to defeat father time and its presence is still undeniable to this day. Can you even make it through Spring Quarter without seeing someone wear a throwback jersey from one of the legends on the ’92 Dream Team?

The ’90s are praised as an era of toughness. Hand-checking made defenses fun to watch, the art of the flop had yet to infect the league, and the rivalries were genuinely intense. The game had grit; it was the ideal time to be a fan. Despite the fierce environment, the NBA still couldn’t escape the tackiness of the decade. This manifested itself not only in the form of cartoonish jerseys which we all still love, but it also permeated throughout the film industry. Space Jam is the result of a perfect storm between a golden age in the NBA and the cheesy pop culture that ruled the decade.

Why do I bring this up? Well, according to the Hollywood Reporter, some trio by the names of Justin Lin, Andrew Dodge and Alfred Botello just signed on to write, direct and produce the sequel with LeBron James as the star. My initial nostalgic sentiments are coupled with downright fear. Please don’t mess this up guys. I’m begging you. We all know what happened with Sandlot 2. Oh, you don’t? Exactly.

The odds are stacked against this sequel. The success of the first installment hinges upon the nostalgia that the film provided to ’90s kids everywhere. Every year or so, we stumble upon this film while surfing through the cable guide and we watch the whole film all the way through. It reminds us of our childhood. We remember the love affair between Bugs and Lola. We remember the grand entrance of Bill Murray. We remember MJ doing his best Mr. Fantastic impression and capping off the astronomical comeback against the Monstars with an emphatic dunk to win the game for the Tune Squad.

Unless the writers draw brilliant allusions to the original, we are probably going to leave the theatre or living room (it could go straight to DVD) disappointed. It’s going to be tough for the writers to match the sentimentality associated with the first film, but, hopefully, they can evoke that emotion for a newer generation. Maybe in 2026, some college student will stumble upon ABC Family and find the second installment and view it in the same way we do right now. Maybe it’ll remind them of the current era and all its glory, and that enough is reason to watch LeBron & friends kick some intergalactic butt.

Whether it disappoints or amazes remains to be seen, but I’m definitely signed up for the ride and you should be too.

Written by Michael Wexler – sports@theaggie.org

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