Space Jam earned mixed reviews when it opened back in 1996, with film critics and many oldschool animation fans responding quizzically to the live-action/cartoon hybrid – based on a series of commercials from several years prior. The film was nonetheless a box office hit and became a mainstay for Millennial VHS collections, with an entire generation regarding the film as an offbeat nostalgic classic that outlived even the onetime mega-popularity of star Michael Jordan.
Now, while rumors of a sequel continue to swirl, a quirky new ad campaign for Foot Locker brings the film’s villains – “The Monstars” – back to life to face new generation of basketball heroes. The original film (inspired by a 1993 Nike commercial series featuring Jordan and Bugs Bunny) is a cross between an animated family-comedy and fictionalized biography of Jordan’s real-life return to the NBA; imagining that he was transported to the world of Warner Bros’ Looney Tunes to help train a team of classic cartoon characters for a game against a team of aliens who seek to imprison them.
To compete, said aliens steal the basketball-playing abilities from various other NBA players, transforming them into giant creatures referred to as The Monstars. In the new ads (which appear to repurpose some of the original animation from the movie), The Monstars return in their powered-up forms and launch an assault on the modern-day world of basketball, defeating challengers and also locking a group of youngsters in an unidentified city out of their local court.