Special happy holidays, the Marvel gift we deserve?


Spoiler-free review of Guardians of the Galaxy: Happy Holidays Special. Premiere on Disney+ on November 25.

Let James Gunn close out Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with what could well be. a new christmas classic. Guardians of the Galaxy: Happy Holidays Special not only casts Pom Klementieff’s Mantis in the spotlight, but also offers us overflowing holiday cheer, a couple of songs and, of course, some Guardians-esque laughs. After this and the wonderfully creepy Curse of the Werewolf, it looks like Marvel is pulling something off with the seasonal specials.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Happy Holidays Special begins as many Christmas classics do: with animation. A quick and charming skit tells a sob story about how Yondu (Michael Rooker) ruined Christmas for Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and Kraglin (Sean Gunn), and as Kraglin tells the story to the gang, it tugs at their heartstrings. Mantis. It is here that the humorously bizarre premise is revealed: what if Mantis and Drax (Dave Bautista) saved Christmas for Peter? giving him the greatest gift of all… his favorite Earth hero, Kevin Bacon?

Peter and the rest of the Guardians don’t get much screen time in this refreshing 43-minute special, though Pratt’s time is very emotional. But heThe focus is on Mantis, Drax and, hilariously, Kevin Bacon, as the first two go on a hilarious and ridiculous Christmas trip through Hollywood to find Peter’s gift. The comedy of Mantis and Drax together never tires; I seriously laughed every time Mantis yelled “DRAX!” with exasperation. And Bacon, playing himself, throws the pretense out the window. He is fully invested in this ridiculous concept, while he acts as a stand-in for the audience when necessary. Bacon’s involvement also allows for a sweet message about the power of stories to slip through.

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Klementieff does an impressive job as Mantis and anchors the special with her emotional moments, of which there are many.

But the special becomes Mantis’s time to shine, and Klementieff rises to the occasion. Just like Gunn took a previously despicable character in The Peacemaker and turned him into a believably likeable lead in his HBO Max series, he takes Mantis (who was previously a background character) and adds more complexity and layers with the help of the endearing interpretation of Klementieff. As stated, she and Bautista make a dream comedic duo, but Klementieff also does an impressive job as Mantis anchors the special in its emotional moments, of which there are many.

He spares no sentiment but, thanks to Gunn’s ability to punctuate weighty moments with humor without undermining them, never gets too sweet. It’s full of scenes that elicit both laughs and possible tears, and it’s delightfully uncynical. That lack of cynicism extends to his full acceptance of the Christmas spirit. From its brief animation scenes to the display of beautiful Christmas lights to its musical moments, it makes no secret of its inspiration from Christmas classics of the past, and is all the better for it. And by the way, those musical moments deliver too; it opens with a number that is endlessly catchy and fun.

As for the MCU, don’t expect big multiversal shenanigans. But Guardians of the Galaxy: Happy Holidays Special manages to introduce a big reveal without seeming shoehorned in, something the MCU has struggled with in other parts of Phase 4. Surprisingly, it adds to this individual story rather than subtracts from it. importance; It’s hard to talk too much about spoilers, but you’ll know it when you see it.

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Guardians of the Galaxy: Happy Holidays Special delivers all the holiday cheer, sentiments, catchy musical numbers, and laugh-out-loud moments you could ask for in a quick 43 minutes. Kevin Bacon is hilarious in the wacko role of him, as is Dave Bautista’s Drax, but the real star is Pom Klementieff as Mantis. James Gunn gives this former background character tons of layers, and Klementieff brings it all home with a charming performance.. All of which makes it a delicious addition to any Marvel fan’s annual Christmas rotation.