There’s something about the Star Wars Holiday Special that appeals to nerds and a certain section of Star Wars fans. It’s so bad it’s so bad but it’s like an ugly puppy dog. You got to admit it is kinda cute at times. After the success of the 1977 original, the pop culture exploded with stormtroopers dancing with Donny and Marie Osmond who didn’t know how well they were foreshadowing Luke and Leia would be siblings as they were dressed respectively.
But I’m almost certain on a November Friday night back in 1978, James Gunn, at only 12, sat in front of the TV with his mouth agape at just what the hell he was seeing. It might have set his mind in motion. There’s already been a LEGO Star Wars holiday special and you’d wonder if Gunn was going to bring the same cheesiness to the Guardians of the Galaxy that smothered Star Wars. The answer is no and thank Yoda for that.
Gunn who cut his teeth writing movies for Troma Films like Tromeo and Juliet, loaded with so much sexual content, you wonder how Gunn got working with Disney almost a decade ago. Gunn, who has had a turbulent career with Disney and Marvel, could have really stuck it to the Guardians with this special, especially now that he’s been helmed to improve the DCEU. Instead, he understands the material and presents a light-hearted charming special that is very surprising.
Peter Quill/Star Lord (Chris Pratt) just isn’t feeling the holiday cheer after the loss of Gamora. The one Peter fell in love with was killed by Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War to obtain the Soul Stone on Voromir. However, in Avengers: Endgame, we were introduced to the Gamora before she met Peter and betrayed Thanos in the first GotG movie. And anyone who’s seen Thor: In Love and Thunder was probably wondering where this alternative timeline Gamora was at as other Guardians had a small role in the more.
The Guadians have purchased Knowhere from the Collector. Kraglin Obfonteri (Sean Gunn) recounts an incident when Peter was still a young child after he was abducted by Yondu Udonta (voiced by Michael Rooker in an animated sequence). It was around the holiday season and Yondu ruined it because he didn’t understand the concept of giving or receiving gifts. As Ravagers, they’re supposed to earn all their belongings, Yondu told Peter.
Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) decide to go to Earth, aka Terran, to get Peter the perfect gift – Kevin Bacon. They land in Los Angeles where the special takes a meta-reference as they discover people pretending to be superheroes and other characters outside Grautman’s Chinese Theater and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And because they look like they do, Mantis and Drax find themselves famous as people want pictures taken with them, handing them wads of cash.
They finally find the real Kevin Bacon, who obviously, freaks out and calls the police. But Mantis is able to make him change his mind. Watching Drax and Mantis run around enjoying all the sites but questioning Bacon’s Christmas decorations is one of the special’s highlights. It kinda makes you wonder why we only decorate at this time. And since previous MCU entries have made it abundantly clear there is commercialism off the superheroes through Halloween masks and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, the characters they encounter in Hollywood are pretending to be the real-life superhero characters in their world not the fictional superhero creatures in our world, if that makes any sense.
Mantis and Drax also believe all of the characters Bacon has played to be part of his real-life exploits, mainly Footlose which seems to exist in both worlds. And when they finally get him back to Knowmore, there’s even more surprises that I won’t mention. It’s a short special that has some nice music and a great performance by Bacon in parody of himself. (I’m just wonder since it’s a TV special does it still factor into the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon universe.) But Gunn manages to make a family special for all ages, which probably makes Marvel and Disney feel like they shouldn’t had had a knee-jerk reaction about him. MCU producer Kevin Feige was anticipating Gunn to oversee the eventual expansion into the Cosmic Heroes, but that’s not happening now.
GotG is set to have its third installment hit theaters in May and this special is supposed to be set in between that movie and the fourth Thor movie. There’s a revelation at the end of the special that will probably be expanded in in the third movie. But what I like about this special is there isn’t the feeling that you have to watch it just to understand something that is in the third movie.
What do you think? Please comment.