‘The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special’ Is Hilarious, Heartfelt and a Welcome Tradition.

After an insane year consisting of multiple movies, shows and specials, the MCU’s fourth phase officially comes to a heartfelt close with ‘The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special’. Once again directed by James Gunn and with the return of the cast of those movies, we find them trying to bring the magic of Christmas back into Peter’s life as he feels awfully sad about not being able to celebrate it. Mantis and Drax go on quite the adventure on Earth hunting the man Quill has idolized his entire life, Kevin Bacon. To tell you the truth, as much as I love Halloween, I also carry the same love for Christmas and the holidays. I love decorating the tree, wearing cosy sweaters and cardigans, buying presents and gifting them, watching those feel-good movies, and feeling content. After quite a rocky two holiday seasons due to the pandemic, however, it has been quite hard to get into the holiday spirit honestly. It’s a different kind of sad to look at Christmas lights everywhere you go and not feel festive whatsoever. Today I made the effort to get myself to listen to some festive music and not get bothered by it and I watched this special with my mother and I have to say, for that half an hour, I did feel the magic of Christmas.

spoilers for ‘The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special’ are featured in this review.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t the biggest fan of ‘Werewolf by Night‘ so I went into this holiday special with quite low expectations but by the end, I didn’t want it to finish. It sits at a very comfortable half-hour and the pacing is quite fast with the exception of the questionable musical numbers which seem to go on forever. In fact, that is honestly my one gripe with the special, the music. This is coming from someone who loves musicals but the musical numbers in this special are just awkward and prolonged. James Gunn knows his way around comedy, action and heart but I can’t say he can direct a good musical number. That being said, other than those two awkward songs, the other music featured was perfectly suited for the Guardians.

When it comes to Christmas movies, episodes and specials, I have a soft spot for them. They only really have to do one thing, make me feel warm and feature a ridiculous amount of holiday imagery. It’s why I don’t like those Hallmark-type of movies as the Americans call them, they feel disingenuous. It can be cheesy, corny and all types of ridiculous, if it features heartwarming sentiments and good-natured writing, I am going to love it. Seeing it start out with old-school animation was so trippy, I did not expect it at all but it put a smile on my face when I realized they were referencing those old classic holiday specials from the ’50s and the ’60s. It makes perfect sense considering how nostalgia-heavy this franchise is. I loved how Gunn perfectly understood what makes a great holiday special effective but also what makes a ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ story effective. It’s the perfect blend of heart and humour and I don’t think any other franchise in the MCU would be a greater fit than this.

Sadly, the Guardians of the Galaxy have been in quite a rut. After Vol. 2 disappointed many, their inclusion and execution in ‘Infinity War’ and ‘Endgame‘ ultimately damaged their presence. They weren’t taken seriously, most of them vanished with the blip and when they did come back in ‘Endgame‘ they didn’t really get any shining moments. People still blame Quill for Thanos winning and they wouldn’t be completely wrong. On a second watch, I came to appreciate Vol. 2 a lot more, I like it quite a bit now so I was quite excited for Gunn to take back the helm and boy did he do the job. This Holiday Special perfectly reminds us why we love these characters so much. Chris Pratt, believe it or not, delivers a likeable performance. After what is honestly a career-ending performance in ‘Jurassic World: Dominion’ and the complete butchery of his character in the last two ‘Avengers‘ movies, I started losing interest in Star-Lord as a character but I really got back into it here. Seeing him getting to care about Christmas all over again was so touching. Watching him realise the present in the box is moving and slowly going from excited to scared was hilarious! Learning that Mantis is his sister and saying it’s the best gift he could ever ask for, it got me emotional I’m not gonna lie. Overall a solid performance that I can’t wait to see more of in Vol. 3. Consider me shocked.

The true stars, however, are Mantis and Drax who travel all the way to Earth to capture Kevin Bacon and gift him to Quill. Seeing them take on Hollywood and Marvel fans was just a blast to watch. Mantis running up to hug Steve Rogers or rather a person cosplaying as him was a whole mood. Seeing them go to a bar and get drunk was such a great idea. It was just fantastic ideas all around. When they do eventually get to Bacon’s house, it just gets so much better. It almost acts as a horror movie at points, it’s insane. Mantis doing leaps and jumps trying to catch him, and Bacon doing a Tom Cruise. Drax deciding an elf toy is more important than Quill made me laugh out loud, not to sound like a millennial but it did. Getting tickled by bullets and then flipping a police car upside down was so chaotic and funny, we couldn’t stop laughing. Every Guardian got a great moment, even Groot who is buff now, I don’t know why but seeing him get excited over the GameBoy got me sort of emotional. Rocket finally getting Bucky’s arm was such a great callback too and seeing Cosmo have a decent part was also very pleasing. I hope he gets more screen-time in Vol. 3

Overall I’d say this was a fantastic holiday special. It had all of the holiday cheer one would acquire. I loved the sentiment as well as the humour, Gunn really struck a perfect balance between the two. I can see myself watching this every year honestly. While cruising the Holiday Collection on Disney+, I really realized just how much of a lack of new holiday classics there is. We need more stuff like this! I’m so glad that we can now get more of it now with all of these streaming services. If this is the future of the Holiday Special then so be it!

‘The Guardians of The Galaxy Holiday Special’ is now streaming on Disney+.


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