If The Guardians Of The Galaxy Vacation Particular is the ultimate shot of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Section 4 throughout our bows, it couldn’t be a extra apt abstract of this wild, uneven, oddball, madcap, much-maligned and at instances creatively exhilarating, unfocused and weirdly self-indulgent sequence of movies and TV exhibits. To complete off with a 42-minute goof, an insubstantial soufflé (a gooflé, perhaps) that by some means manages to be all of these issues simply feels proper.
When it was introduced that James Gunn wasn’t simply engaged on the third and closing Guardians Of The Galaxy film (due subsequent summer season), but additionally a Christmas particular that includes the characters he has remodeled from ragtag ragamuffins into the rascally centre of the MCU, it set tongues a-wagging and minds a-racing. What would it not be? Guardians 2.5, however with slightly Christmas riffing on the soundtrack? A spread present with the Guardians at its centre? May the title, a ballsy nod to probably the most notorious TV particular of all of them — the 1978 Star Wars Vacation Particular — be a clue to Gunn’s intentions to make one thing slightly intentionally, nicely, crap?
Ultimately, it’s slightly of all three. There are nods to that Vacation Particular, together with a few animated interludes (Boba Fett was, after all, launched in that present by way of cartoon), whereas some musical numbers threaten briefly to make it appear to be we’ve unintentionally stumbled upon Jools’ Hootenanny. Or Grootenanny, if you’ll.
Guardians 2.5, although, is usually the place Gunn — writing and directing once more — finally ends up. Happening after the occasions of Avengers: Endgame, he relocates the Guardians again to that big floating house cranium, Knowhere, and swiftly units his plot in movement. After studying, via Sean Gunn’s Kraglin, what Christmas means to Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Drax (Dave Bautista) got down to assist mend their chief’s damaged coronary heart (this all takes place after the dying of Gamora, lest we neglect, and Pratt’s Quill remains to be in sad-sack mode; one thing he can hopefully escape of by the point Vol. 3 rolls round) by giving him a Christmas he received’t neglect. Which entails going to Earth to kidnap Earth’s mightiest hero, Kevin Bacon.
So frothy, and enjoyable, and so clearly not meant to be taken critically.
However as a result of they’re idiots, and have solely 12 % of a plan, issues swiftly go mistaken. Can Drax and Mantis save the day, get Kevin Bacon again to Knowhere, and remind Peter Quill of the magic of Christmas? The end result, after all, is rarely doubtful. So actually it’s about having fun with the experience. And there’s loads to take pleasure in right here, as Drax and Mantis — whose bizarre chemistry was one of the pleasing facets of Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 — blunder their means round LA, and into bother with the legislation. Gunn can write these characters in his sleep, and Bautista is aware of Drax’s cartoonish comedic contours in and out by now, after all, but it surely’s Pom Klementieff, nonetheless a reasonably current addition to the Guardians’ gang, who actually blossoms right here, leaning into Mantis’ well-meaning weirdness whereas additionally giving some delightfully dotty line readings, and including slightly depth to a personality who can all too simply turn into the comedian aid.
Make no mistake, as charming because it all is, this isn’t an entry-level MCU effort. And that’s okay — at this level, Gunn, Kevin Feige and co. have earned the correct to let free each from time to time with an utter oddity like this. However there shall be some, and that will even embody hardened MCU followers, for whom this may be an indulgence too far, and for whom this may resemble the most costly house video ever shot (the manufacturing values listed here are astonishing — complete films have been shot on units much less spectacular than the Knowhere soundstage). The entire thing is extremely slight, and pretty inconsequential (with the attainable exception of 1 character revelation, it appears like you would skip this and go straight into Vol. 3 and never miss a beat), whereas the Kevin Bacon scenes really feel disappointingly toothless. The EE adverts have riffed on his profession and persona with extra comedic spark than right here.
However it’s additionally so frothy, and enjoyable, and so clearly not meant to be taken critically. It’s what it’s: a bunch of A-holes, studying and laughing and singing about Christmas. If that’s not your bag, then I Am Groot. And we imply it.