The Guardians of The Galaxy Holiday Special

The Guardians of The Galaxy Holiday Special is silly fun but not appropriate for little kids.
Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Sean Gunn, and Kevin Bacon
James Gunn
Release date
November 25, 2022
Where to watch
Overall Score
Rating Overview
Rating Summary
The Guardians of The Galaxy Holiday Special isn't too special but neither is it bad. If you're into the franchise, you should watch it, as it is considered to be canon and introduces at least one new character that promises to provide some laughs in GOTG 3. It also reveals at least one little juicy tidbit about two of the core characters.
There’s not much to say about The Guardians of The Galaxy Holiday Special. It’s 44 minutes of Twinkie-quality fun. The primary cast is all there, save Gamora, and they all give fine and believable performances, unlike the wig that they slapped on Pratt. It looked like someone raided Lex Luthor’s lair from 1978’s Superman: The Movie. It might be real hair, but it’s definitely not Chris Pratt’s.

The show’s premise is that Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), the group’s leader, is sad because, after Marvel’s Infinity War, Peter’s girlfriend, Gamora, is gone. Also because it’s Christmas time, and Peter’s friends think that Peter’s now deceased surrogate father, Yondu, ruined Christmas for Peter when he was a boy. So, Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Drax (Dave Bautista) take it upon themselves to get Peter the perfect Christmas present, give him the Christmas that he’s always wanted, and raise his spirits.

Of course, hijinks ensue because neither Mantis, nor Drax, know much of anything about Christmas, or how to reasonably interact with other sentient beings. This is where the show could have easily become a genuinely heartwarming story about the meaning of Christmas but, instead, it turns into a fish-out-of-water cliche that relies on cheap and obvious jokes and slapstick to get easy laughs. Don’t get me wrong, it still works, mostly due to the reliably charming and charismatic performances of Mantis and Drax. Their on-screen chemistry can’t be denied, and it carries the special. However, it had the talent involved and the budget to be much more.

The show has no grand internal revelations, and Linus definitely never shows up to tell everyone the real meaning of Christmas. It’s a surface-level show that lovers of the Guardians franchise will enjoy, and small children should avoid.


The program is titled The Guardians of The Galaxy Holiday Special, but it is completely and singularly about Christmas, not the holiday season, not Kwanza, just plain old vanilla Christmas. The program is literally a metaphorical Christmas orgy. In the beginning, the Marvel logo is strung with Christmas lights while the animated prologue and epilogue center around Christmas time, a Christmas tree, and Christmas presents. A song about Santa clause takes up several minutes of the first act, and a Christmas decorations store is raided in order to decorate the Guardian’s home, Nowhere, so that they can make it look like a traditional North American Christmas for Peter. There is no subtlety or ambiguity that the show is about any other holiday, and the word “Christmas” must be said a hundred times throughout. So, just call it a Christmas special.

There’s a moment when Drax and Mantis see a manger scene and look at it, and one another, with confusion and skepticism.

Finally, I would argue that it is decidedly woke to actively court a young demographic and then insert completely unnecessary adult elements into your program (stripper-esque drag shows for children anyone?). There are two moments that make this show inappropriate for young children, and both could have easily been substituted or left out completely. The first is that, while on Earth, Mantis and Drax find themselves in a bar where they do shots, get fall down drunk, and Disney’s obligatory gay character hits on Drax. The second is a line containing the word “shit” delivered by Nebula for comedic effect. It’s perfectly delivered, totally lands, and is funny but it could have easily been omitted without diminishing the show an iota.

James Carrick

James Carrick is a passionate film enthusiast with a degree in theater and philosophy. James approaches dramatic criticism from a philosophic foundation grounded in aesthetics and ethics, offering insight and analysis that reveals layers of cinematic narrative with a touch of irreverence and a dash of snark.

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