In some ways, Space Jam fans were dreading this since the moment the first trailer essentially turned “cartoons play sci-fi basketball” into “what if Ready Player One had exclusive access to the Warner Bros. back catalogue?” but truly, to see this Matrix riff in action is… well, it’s a lot.
MovieClips has posted a clip from A New Legacy, giving us our first really good, extended look at a particular moment from the LeBron James/Bugs Bunny vehicle. It is, diplomatically speaking, a nightmare. An extended homage to The Matrix — a property of course, owned by your friends and mine, Warner Media — the clip sees Granny (Candi Milo) and Speedy Gonzales (Gabriel Iglesias) doing… something that requires being encountered by police, before breaking out into the requisite kung-fu and slow-mo that any Matrix reference circa 2002 would deem mandatory, but in 2021 just reads as incredibly, incredibly rote.
OK, I will say, the Twitter joke is almost cute, in that I, a 30-year-old man, have no right to do Old Man Yells At Cloud rants about a current movie referring to current popular culture just yet. Let Granny have her tweets! And in a strained, continued attempt to speak diplomatically, the continued integration of 2D-animated characters in live action reads much better here than Warner’s prior attempt with the most recent Tom & Jerry Movie.
But my god, the actual pastiche is just… deeply, deeply uninteresting, because it’s that which feels more dated than Granny talking about her socials. Despite this being Warner Bros. playing in Warner Bros.’ own sandbox, this is just a Matrix riff in the vein of over two decades of Matrix riffs.
Yes, Granny got herself a Trinity-esque leather catsuit. Yes, she gets to do the slo-mo mid-air martial arts pose into a kick, after we pan around her. Yes, Speedy gets to do bullet time, and the fact that Speedy gets to do it is about the only clever thing that happens. It’s just so… uninspired? You have The Matrix. You own The Matrix. You are The Matrix! Why does this play out like a very strained cameo deal that mandates the tiniest, most limited details in order to get an homage in?
At least LeBron shows up at the end to flatly say hi to Granny while she’s off screen, sparing us the rest. Which, no doubt, we cannot be spared from when Space Jam: A New Legacy releases in theatres on July 15.