T’is the season to snuggle and watch adorable movies about love and friendship that are warm and sweet, just like the cup of hot chocolate you should be guzzling as you watch them. And James Gunn’s The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special is all of that. But, more importantly, it’s hilarious in a way only a movie about a bunch of aliens who know nothing about ‘Christmas spirit’ or who the legendary Kevin Bacon really is (an actor, not a guy who IRL saved a town by dancing) can be. Starring Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Drax (Dave Bautista), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Kraglin (Sean Gunn), Groot (Vin Diesel), Cosmo the dog (Maria Bakalova), and Kevin Bacon himself, this holiday special is 45 minutes of your time well spent on a charming side-quest that our beloved Guardians go on to ‘save Christmas’.
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As you might’ve gotten from the trailer, Mantis and Drax want to cheer Peter up, who has been understandably sad since the events of Avengers: Endgame, when he lost Gamora (Zoe Saldaña). Their genius plan is to bring Peter the ‘legendary hero Kevin Bacon’ as a gift and bring back some festive cheer in his life. If that isn’t funny already, wait till you watch them land on Earth and actually carry out this plan. Obviously, the Hollywood star isn’t exactly going to come quietly, not without a nudge from Mantis, if you know what I mean. And obviously, Peter is going to flip when he finds out what his friends are up to. But while it all unfolds, you and I can sit back, relax, and laugh our hearts out.
The GOTG Holiday Special begins and ends with an animated sequence narrated by Kraglin that I promise will make you emotional, giving us context to why ‘saving’ Christmas for Peter is such a big deal for Mantis and Drax. But everything in between is a Drax and Mantis show through and through, as they navigate Hollywood to find Kevin Bacon. It’s not easy, disproving the six degrees of Kevin Bacon or as we know it, the Bacon Law! But eventually, they do find the Footloose actor’s house, and their alien antics and cluelessness make for some hilarious moments. My favourites are their obsession with Christmas decorations or when they find out who Kevin Bacon really is (no spoilers!). That bit of meta-commentary and their disappointment really made me crack up!
The deadpan deliveries by Dave Bautista’s Drax and the frustrated voice of Pom Klementieff’s Mantis are entertaining. Their banter and even the way they just get each other is always the highlight of every scene they’re in. Kevin Bacon is his charming self, an excellent gift not just for Peter but for fans of the actor and the GOTG franchise. He just fits, you know? There’s a mushy Christmas gift exchange between the Guardians family that will make you go “Awww!” and you can thank Groot for that. And because it is an MCU film, expect some surprises and fun callbacks here and there that are better seen for oneself than read about in a review. It’s the perfect balance of cheesy and cheery, with the occasional eye-roll moments from Nebula!
The one gift that the Guardians Of The Galaxy franchise keeps on giving is a good soundtrack. And this one too does not disappoint! Old 97’s ‘Christmastime’ Is Here and their ‘Here It Is Christmastime’ alongside Kevin Bacon are perfectly sing-along songs that really turn on the festive cheer.
One of the featurettes released for the film has Marvel boss Kevin Feige reveal that The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special was one of the first things Marvel Studios conceived for Disney+, and how James Gunn pitched the idea to do a holiday special back when they were shooting for GOTG Vol. 2. And I think it was an astute decision to make it happen. Much like the I Am Groot series that dropped in August, this one too is a snackable slice of the Guardians story that just endears the characters more to you and is a fun watch.
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The GOTG Holiday Special has everything you’d want from a holiday movie. It’s adorable, funny, looks wondrous, comes with surprise gifts for its fans, and has a message about the spirit of the festive season, rooted in the friendship and found family trope that the franchise is about. And it all works because of the actors headlining it, possibly the most unintentionally funniest duo in the MCU right now. Definitely give it a watch!
The Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special, written and directed by James Gunn, drops on Disney+ Hotstar on November 25, 2022.