The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, by Albert W. Vogt III

If The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is not a movie, then I am not sure what else to call it.  Granted, at only forty minutes in run time, it is not what you would call feature length.  I have to confess to having a not an insignificant amount of trepidation going into watching it.  There may be some of you who have had the misfortune of seeing the absolute train wreck that was the Star Wars Holiday Special (1978).  I have watched it once all the way through, and seen bits here and there since, and nothing can prepare you for the dumpster-fire that was the made-for-television, er, “thing.”  Since regular broadcasts seem to be passé these days, at least The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special would not have to be inflicted on millions of people if it turned out to be as bad as its predecessor.  Thankfully, this was not the case.

My worry about The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special spiked early on as it starts animated.  This is to provide a backstory for how the leader of the title team, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), also known as Star Lord, brought Christmas to the galaxy.  As a young kid (voiced by Luke Klein), having been taken into space by Yondu Udonta (voiced by Michael Rooker), leader of the intergalactic band of smugglers and thieves called Ravagers, Peter begins missing Christmas.  When he tries to teach one of his crewmates, Kraglin Obfonteri (Sean Gunn) about the holiday, Yondu reacts disdainfully.  We then fast forward to the present and the grown-up Peter is feeling nostalgic once again for that time of the year.  He does have stuff to do to keep him occupied, as him and the rest of the Guardians are helping to rebuild a remote space station called Knowhere.  Check out the review of Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) to understand that part.  His crewmates, though apparently insane, seem to notice that Peter is not quite himself, particularly after a group of Knowhere denizens sing for him a Christmas song they make up that gets many of the aspects of the holiday hilariously wrong.  To try and cheer him up, the team empath known as Mantis (Pom Klementieff), who is also technically Peter’s half-sister, comes up with a plan that seems like a no-brainer to her but is horrifying: kidnap Kevin Bacon (as himself) and bring him to Peter.  In previous films, Peter has carried on about his love for Bacon’s famous film Footloose (1984), even using its plot to defeat a villain.  Again, see Guardians of the Galaxy.  For now, it is meat-headed but well intentioned Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) who volunteers to go with her to Earth on this kidnapping mission while the rest of the Guardians stay behind to prepare their Christmas surprise on Knowhere.  When Drax and Mantis get to Earth, aside from sticking out as evident aliens from outer space, they realize that they do not have a clue as to how to find Bacon.  They assume that he is the leader of the Earth, and thus decide to head to some of the most populated areas to find him.  Their first stop is the Chinese Theater in Hollywood where they are mistaken as other superheroes in costume and are paid a lot of money by tourists to take pictures with them.  They then proceed to spend the majority of that cash getting drunk at a nearby bar, while asking around for Bacon, of course.  As they lay on the sidewalk outside, somebody selling maps to Hollywood stars’ homes overhears that they still do not know how to find Bacon.  The map points them in the right direction, and soon they are breaking into Bacon’s house.  In panic, he begins to run after calling 911, and Drax and Mantis must deal with the police.  What gets Bacon to go along with them is her powers.  Back on Knowhere, Peter emerges to a Christmas wonderland with one big gift as its centerpiece.  Understandably, he is not pleased to find a kidnapped Kevin Bacon, and he tells Drax and Mantis to return the snatched actor.  Yet, before Bacon and Mantis depart, she tells him why they brought him into space.  Feeling like staying could do some good, he ends up putting on a concert to the delight of everyone.  As we wind down, Mantis reveals to Peter that they are siblings, which is the best gift he could have asked for this Christmas.  I suppose I should mention there is a post-credits scene with Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) attempting to dress Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) as a Christmas tree.

As a practicing Catholic, watching something like The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special can be annoying from a Faith perspective.  The title itself does not speak to the true reason for the holiday, which is the birth of the Messiah, Jesus.  Still, my annoyance is only mild with this one.  The words Christmas are used and seen throughout, which is more than I can say for the Star Wars version.  There is one moment in it, though, that caught my eye, and I not sure what to make of it.  At one point in their wanderings, Drax and Mantis stop in front of one of those plastic Nativity scenes you can find on many lawns across this country.  Before quickly moving on, they exchange an inquisitive look.  Perhaps all they are saying with this scene is, huh, is that not something?  It is more than “something,” though.  There would be none of this without the birth of Jesus.  You can not believe in God if you like, though in that case I would wonder why you would celebrate the holiday.  I realize there are plenty of traditions surrounding the holiday that have nothing to do with Christianity.  Even so, I feel the source should be acknowledged.  There is some of this here, though it is never going to be enough, of course.

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is a fun way to spend forty minutes.  I was a little unsure as to what they were thinking with how they did Groot, but it is not too distracting.  Otherwise, feel free to watch, though I would be careful with some elements if you have children.

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