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The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special Review

Hot on the heels of the spooky Halloween hit Werewolf By Night is Marvel’s second seasonal special presentation of the year, as James Gunn and co. round off phase four of the Cinematic Universe with some real festive cheer. It’s time to dig out the Christmas decorations and mince pies for this charming instalment, which may just enter quite a few favourite seasonal lists thanks to the cast wonderfully capturing that festive mix of hilarious & heartwarming moments.

Written and directed by James Gunn, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special centres on everyone’s favourite bunch of a-holes during the festive period. After discovering how Yondu (Michael Rooker) ruined the Terran holiday, ‘Christmas’ for Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and Kraglin (Sean Gunn), Mantis (Pom Klementieff) takes it upon herself to cheer Peter up by giving him the best Christmas present ever. Recruiting best buddy Drax (Dave Bautista) in her mission, the duo head to Terran to track down none other than Peter’s hero – Kevin Bacon himself.

Yes, the festive special has a fittingly bonkers premise which suits the ragtag Guardians team down to a T, as the duo head on a madcap 43-minute adventure – complete with festive musical numbers and animated interludes – to help cheer their grieving friend up following the loss of Gamora. Gunn’s script perfectly balances several laugh out loud sequences with some real emotional highs, while throwing in a character reveal along the way. Refreshingly however, it’s a pretty standalone instalment, so you don’t have to worry about manically catching up on the rest of phase four ahead of its release.

Unsurprisingly chaos ensues as the dynamic duo run amok in Hollywood as they search for the Footloose star, and stars Pom Klementieff and Dave Bautista are given free reign to fully lean into the goofiness of their kooky counterparts. We all know how hilarious Bautista can be as Drax, but it’s here where the often supporting Mantis is given the time to shine. Klementieff excels in adding depth to the endearing character, proving she’s just as good as the laughs (especially when exasperated with Drax) as delivering the emotional moments. The pair prove a brilliant comedic duo, particularly as they chase after the fleeing Kevin Bacon, who is also clearly having a ball.

While Peter and co. aren’t afforded a huge amount of runtime, what we do get is a welcome glimpse back into their lives, now they’re back on the planet Knowhere. Groot has a brand new, more practical look, while we get our first taste of Maria Bakalova voicing Cosmo the Spacedog. Rocket and Nebula’s surprisingly sweet relationship is also spotlighted in a very entertaining way, while Karen Gillan hilariously unleashes Nebula’s dancing in the universe.

What’s so endearing however is the unabashed embracing of the festive spirit, as Gunn and co. manage to incorporate just the right amount of sentiment and Christmas joy to hit that sweet festive spot. Yes the musical moments are undoubtedly a little goofy, but there’s plenty of entertaining and heartfelt spectacle (those Christmas lights!) to more than make up for it. The animated sequences which bookend the Holiday special also tug pack an emotional punch, lovingly reinforcing the franchises’ main theme of found families.


The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is a real festive treat full of Christmas cheer. There’s so many hilarious & heartwarming moments, along with a cracking Drax & Mantis dynamic. I’ll certainly be adding this to my Christmas watchlist. Bring on 2023’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3!