Where to stream it? Disney+
Starring: Chris Pratt, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Sean Gunn, Kevin Bacon
Directed by: James Gunn
Running Time: 45 Minutes
The holidays are quickly approaching, and that includes inside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the second of Marvel’s Special Presentations, director James Gunn brings some holiday spirit to the popular Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. And it proves to be one of the best things Marvel has done in the last couple years.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special opens shortly after the events of Avengers: Endgame, where the leader of the titular Guardians, Peter Quill, is still feeling depressed over the disappearance of Gamora from the group after her demise in the previous movies. In an attempt to cheer him up, Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) and Mantis(Pom Klementieff) embark on a quest to Earth to find Quill the ultimate Christmas present.
For only a 45 minute short, this special really crams a lot into it. Much of the story revolves around Drax and Mantis and their attempts to kidnap Kevin Bacon for Peter Quill. And the hilarious lengths the two of them get into will have viewers laughing through its short duration. But for all the laughs, the film still remains firmly planted in a heartwarming story about friendship and the way we come together during the holidays.
Where that really comes into play is in the finale, which features a musical celebration of the holidays that proves as heartwarming as the rest of the short film. Each character from the ensemble gets their own moment that equally stands out, although the continued relationship between Drax and Mantis still steal the show.
To be honest, this short is about as good as any holiday-themed episode of television can be. There’s a few minor squabbles though, but nothing that hurt my enjoyment too much. First is that, while not a musical, there are a couple of musical numbers that work in the context of the special itself, but nothing memorable enough to make you want to run out and download the soundtrack. Also, while not a huge drag on the story, it is odd seeing Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill take a back seat for the majority of the show considering he’s been the face of the franchise for years.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, while still a part of the franchise, does remain fairly self-contained as well. So those looking for the MCU’s famed interconnectivity or possible plot hints to next year’s Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 may walk away slightly disappointed.
Overall, for anyone wanting to celebrate the holidays with a small taste of the Marvel flair with their celebration, this holiday special won’t disappoint. While it doesn’t redefine the holiday special formula, it’s a fun, non-stop, and short journey that will be great for the whole family.