- Written and Directed by James Gunn
- November 25, 2022
- Peter Quill / Star-Lord-Chris Pratt
- Young Peter Quill-Luke Klein
- Drax the Destroyer-Dave Bautista
- Nebula-Karen Gillan
- Mantis-Pom Klementieff
- Groot-Vin Diesel
- Rocket-Bradley Cooper
- Kraglin Obfonteri-Sean Gunn
- Alien band on Knowhere-The Old 97’s: Lead singer Rhett Miller (Bzermikitokolok) bandmates Murry Hammond, Ken Bethea, and Philip Peeples portray band members Kortolbookalia, Sliyavastojoo, and Phloko
- Yondu Udonta-Michael Rooker
- Kevin Bacon-Himself
- Cosmo the Spacedog-Maria Bakalova (voice)
- Kyra Sedgwick-Herself (voice)
Christmas comes to Knowhere and the Guardians search for a gift for Peter.
I admit to being down on much of the Marvel content of late. Perhaps because there is just so much of it. Perhaps because it often just goes through the motions rather than use the creative bounty at hand. Perhaps because they put whatever half thought through message first before making a good story. Or perhaps because all too often they are visual spectacles with often forgettable stories.
Regardless I am no longer enamored of them as I once was. But we’re not here for me to complain about general stuff. We’re here to talk about a bright spot not only in recent Marvel projects but in newer Christmas specials as well.
I’m not going to call The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special great, but I will call it enjoyable fun. It doesn’t take himself too seriously and has a pretty good idea of exactly what it is. It’s fun and goofy yet has a strange element of heart to it. You may not think of Christmas when watching this, but you will get the feels at points.
Things are set in motion when Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) decide to help Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) feel good about the upcoming holidays and kidnap his hero Kevin Bacon (as himself). It’s just a bonkers idea that comes up so sweetly and innocently you want them to do it. Sometimes ideas like this are executed without the named individual ever showing up but they get Kevin Bacon to show up in this which I find extremely amazing. Not because it’s Kevin Bacon but because he’s willing to do something so silly and be a part of the joke.
We also get a weird opening Christmas song sung by aliens who have a very bizarre view of the holiday with Peter becoming shocked and at points horrified by their lack of knowledge of the season. Somethings they take literally while others are way out of context. Pratt kills it in the scene as does the band with their gleeful ignorance. It is all hilarious facial expressions and confused stammering.
This has been brought up by others but uniquely The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special features no villain to defeat but is rather about a problem to overcome. Few movies or shows or special go with such a bold move preferring to go a more conventional route. And those that do often are not that good. This eschews the normal Marvel formal and gives something entertaining and endearing.
Reportedly this was filmed at the same time or close together with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 which is certainly a plus. Moving from the big screen to the small screen usually is a downgrade in visual quality. Anybody remember The Star Wars Holiday Special or even the series Stargate SG1 (which I adore)? Both were a step down from their source. This was able to take advantage of existing sets to give us something that visually fit. And surprisingly with the limitations it had based on available sets the story is not forced in any way. It is all a natural flow.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is mostly what a Christmas special should be. It’s not down on the holiday but rather it’s fun and irreverent and rather silly. It embraces the fictional universe in which it occurs and also keeps the holiday at the center. Somehow it becomes about Christmas and family. The holiday is central to the plot to the point it might not work as well if at all without Christmas. One event snowballs into another until things just get out of hand with the spirit of the season ultimately saving it all.
The direction is great, and the jokes are at just the right amount without one stepping on the other. This fits right in with the previous films. It holds you despite Marvel’s trademark heavy special effects and big action sequences missing from the narrative.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is a fun and rather pleasantly silly special. You’ll laugh. You’ll get a few warm feels. You may even find yourself wanting to revisit it to have something to feel that enjoyment again. Maybe not a must see but it’s definitely something to check out if you find the time.