I present to you, DUNK CLUB, the SPACE JAM/FIGHT CLUB movie that is too beautiful to exist in this cruel world.
Jim Dougan made a joke. This happened before I could stop myself.
"How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never slammed a jam?"
Disillusioned with his unprecedented success and vast wealth, global superstar Michael Jordan grows bored. He listlessly tries to chase the excitement that used to fuel him by playing minor-league baseball and golfing with Bill Murray, but it’s not enough.
On a plane back from filming a Hanes commercial, he meets another lone traveler seated next to him. He says his name is “Bugs”. Bugs has the airy confidence of a lucky drifter. He says he trades in a little of this, a little of that. A carrot scheme here, exploiting illegal poachers there. As soon as he enters his life, Bugs is gone. It crosses MJ’s mind for a moment that he was just talking to an anthropomorphic rabbit, but he’d also just woken up from a xanax and red wine nap, so stranger shit’s happened.
He returns to his mini-mansion in Birmingham to find it destroyed. The authorities suspect a gas leak. As he’s trying to process this, he sees the charred remains of a crate bearing the ACME logo. For some nagging reason, he decides to call his new friend Bugs.
They meet at a bar. All His Airness wants to do is talk about all of the tagless white tees he lost, but Bugs has a different agenda. He starts convincing MJ that possessions are just possessions. You love the things you own, they begin to own you, and eventually, well, that’s all, folks.
Bugs begins to tell Michael about the real threat. Much like himself, the world has become numbed to a lurking danger. Having their faces filled with McDonald’s and Sega and USA Up All Night has blinded everyone from connecting to the only thing in life that matters: DUNKING.
Bugs offers Michael a spot in a hole he’s squatting in down on Paper Street. Michael thinks it’s probably too small, but Bugs is pretty fucking big for a rabbit, so whatever.
They walk out to the parking lot, road sodas in hand, and Bugs stops. Then Michael sees it.
As Bugs lights a cigarette, he shoots a knowing glance upwards.
Above his head, hangs a rusty old basketball hoop. Not unlike the one Air Jordan practiced on day and night as a kid in North Carolina.
"I want you to dunk on me as hard as you can."
"I said, I want you to dunk on me as hard as you can."
As if by divine magic, a cartoon basketball appears in Michael’s hands. Still unsure, and pretty hammered, he’s walking on air from half court before he realizes he’s doing it. For the first time in years, he’s feeling the spark and adrenaline that made him the superstar people are looking at extremely puzzled in the parking lot right now.
"Ya dunked me in the fuckin’ ear!" Bugs yells.
Michael goes to apologize, but Bugs has already stuffed a bucket right on top of him, knocking him to the ground.
"Let’s do it again," Michael says, breathless with the basketball jones.
They start doing this every friday night, but it’s not enough. Soon it’s every other night, then every night plus weekends. New dunkers begin pouring in. The tired, the weary, the disenfranchised.
They enter the bare concrete of the court as sassy birds, old prospectors, pervy skunks, Martian conquerors, Nerdlucks, grandmothers, and Bill Murray. But after a few dunks? They’re superstars.
Eventually Dunk Club becomes an intergalactic phenomenon. Bugs begins reading a charter at the beginning of every night. A clandestine preamble to the primal carnage about to ensue.
"The first rule of Dunk Club is, you do not talk about Dunk Club."
The second rule of Dunk Club is, YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT DUNK CLUB.
Third rule: if someone says “that’s all folks”, goes limp, or taps out, the dunk’s over.
Fourth rule: Two guys to a dunk.
Fifth rule: One dunk at a time.
Sixth rule: Everyone has to wear shirts and shoes. Nike shirts and shoes.
Seventh rule: If this is your first night at Dunk Club, you HAVE to slam a jam.”
For months, it’s pure bliss. Michael feels in control of his life for the first time since The Dream Team. But something begins to shift. The new dunkers are getting more aggressive. Suddenly he finds himself concerned about what Bugs is doing in their hole all day when he’s not home.
The new recruits begin to look different. They wear dark uniforms and look like monkeys that’ve returned from outer space. He starts seeing strange new faces in the hole on Paper Street, covert meetings, ominous plans. One day he hears one of them utter a phrase that runs up his spine like Gary Payton on a breakaway toward a no look three… Project Monstar.
Digging through Bugs’ room, Michael finds boarding passes and receipts for flights and gives chase, following him to places like Tasmania, Mars, and Tune Land, but he’s always a step behind.
Walking through an airport T.G.I. Friday’s, he glances at the bartender, a strangely familiar six foot-tall chicken wearing a neck brace, bearing scars that can only come from underground dunking.
"Have I been here before?" Michael asks him.
"SIR AH SAY AH SAY SIR IS THIS A TETHT?!" the chicken spits.
"Who do you think I am?"
"AH SAID AH SAID A TETHT, SAH. AH YOU SHOAH THITH ITHN’T A TETHT?"
"No, this is not a test."
"You’re Mr. Bunny. You’re the one who gave me this."
The chicken raises his right wing to show Michael a scar in the shape of two giant rabbit’s teeth.
Michael wakes up in a hotel room. Bugs is lounging in the chair at the foot of his bed wearing a giant pair of JNCO’s, mirrored Oakley Eyejackets, and a shirt that says “Take Me to Your Dealer”.
Bugs confirms the suspicion that has been gnawing at Michael, like a rabbit gnawing on a carrot.
“You were looking for a way to change your life. You could not do this on your own. All the ways you wished you could be… that’s me! I look like you wanna look, I slam like you wanna jam, I am smart, capable and most importantly, ain’t I a stinker?”
"No, this is impossible! This is crazy!" Michael pleads.
“No, people do it every day. They talk to themselves. They see themselves as they like to be. They don’t have the courage you have, to just run with it. Naturally you still wrestling with it so sometimes you’re still you. Other times you imagine yourself watching me. Little by little you’re just letting yourself become… Bugs Bunny!”
Like a center under siege past the three point line, Michael passes out.
He comes to and heads back to the hole on Paper Street, but it’s abandoned. He combs through Project Monstar’s makeshift fortress, finding only one address. Speeding across town, he comes to the site of Project Monstar’s last stand: the Starter jacket world headquarters; the epitome of the probably flammable commercialization of his beloved game and the target for Bugs’ final strike. They’ll be watching from a building across the street.
As he enters the lobby, something tells him there’s a van full of ACME dynamite parked around the major load-bearing pylons in the underground parking garage.
"I know this because Bugs Bunny knows this."
He finds the van, but also finds Bugs blocking his path.
"You’re a fucking hallucination, why can’t I get rid of you?!" Michael shouts.
"You need me."
"No, I don’t. I really don’t anymore."
“Hey, you created me. I didn’t create some loser alter-ego to make my self feel better. Take some responsibility,” Bugs replies.
Unwilling to yield, it’s become clear how this is gonna do down. Michael tries to make a break for it but Bugs is already jamming on him. Under cars, down stairs, into holes painted on the walls that look like tunnels. Just slamming the jam all over his sorry ass. Bugs dunks Michael unconscious and the Monstars carry him up to the top floor of the building across the street.
Michael comes to with a ball in his face. Bugs tells him they’re going to reset the clock, return America to loving the game, not the products. Without their precious Starter Jacket endorsements, athletes will have to succeed on merit and fans will have no choice but to appreciate the athletics and gamesmanship.
But Michael has one last idea. Suddenly, he’s palming the ball.
"Why do you want to put a ball to your head?" Bugs asks.
"Not my head, Bugs. Our head," Michael replies.
Before Bugs can do anything, Michael dunks himself in the face.
Bugs collapses, lifeless. The Monstars all revert to their former selves: Patrick Ewing, Muggsy Bogues, Sean Bradley, Larry Johnson, and Charles Barkley all join hands around Michael as he rises from the chair, face bloodied from dunkage.
Michael stumbles towards the window, realizing it’s too late to stop Bugs’ plan from coming to fruition. As Starter Jacket Tower implodes floor by floor, Michael raises the bloody basketball to his face and the Dream Team put their arms around him.
Faces aglow from the explosion of crass consumerism, Michael looks deep into the ball’s lines and says “You met me at a very Space Jam in my life.”
ROLL CREDITS. PIXIES COVER “I BELIEVE I CAN FLY”.