Guardians of the Galaxy Misses the Mark on Fun

<i>Guardians of the Galaxy</i> Misses the Mark on Fun
Jay Maidment/Marvel Studios
Chris Pratt as the prickly Quill.

Beware the movie that's Fun! with a capital F, the one populated with seemingly unpretentious characters that say adorable, clever things, the one that presents each off-kilter joke as if it were a porcelain curio, the one that boasts a comfort-food soundtrack of songs you've always liked but perhaps haven't heard in a while. On the plus side, James Gunn's ­Guardians of the Galaxy, adapted from the Marvel comic book series of the same name, has a sense of humor about itself: Even when characters strut around dropping hefty expository bundles like "Ronan is destroying Xanderian outposts throughout the galaxy!" they do so with a wink. But by the end, you'll have been winked at so much you might think you've been staring at a strobe light for nearly two hours. Guardians of the Galaxy is proof that a picture can have a sense of humor yet have no real wit. It hits every beat, but it hasn't got the beat.

They'll have to take a meeting with Glenn Close in a winter-white pretzel hairdo, and that's seriously scary.

You might be fooled into thinking otherwise at the beginning. Guardians opens with a flashback preamble detailing a key episode in the childhood of our hero, Peter Quill (played, as a youngster, by Wyatt Oleff): His mother, dying in a hospital, begs him to take her hand; he recoils, only to be filled with remorse seconds later when she draws her last breath. The totem he clings to is a mixtape of "Awesome Music" she's made for him, filled with rad-pop treasures from her own youth and maybe from yours too, like the Raspberries' "Go All the Way" and 10cc's "I'm Not in Love." Cut to Quill as a brawny, space-roaming grownup, now played by Chris Pratt: He's still listening to that tape, and we see him, headphones clamped to his ears, swaggering through a dazzling, surreal blue-green alien landscape — rife with obnoxious, scampering lizards, which he impatiently kicks out of the way — to the strains of Redbone's "Come and Get Your Love."

Fun! Right? Actually, that early sequence almost is fun, though it's just a little too self-aware, too pleased with itself, to work. Later, our rogue space scavenger Quill is joined in his exploits by green-skinned butt-kicker Gamora (Zoe Saldana); tattooed, chrome-domed beefcake Drax (pro wrestler Dave Bautista); and an unlikely duo of soldiers of fortune: cranky talking raccoon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and his bark-covered sidekick, Groot (Vin Diesel), a thinking, feeling, ambulatory plant form with exceedingly sad, slightly watery eyes. Naturally, none of these characters likes the others much at first. But they quickly realize that five heads and 12 legs are the bare minimum needed to prevent the villainous, stripey-faced Ronan (Lee Pace) from destroying the galaxy. Also, at one point they'll have to take a meeting with Glenn Close in a winter-white pretzel hairdo, and that's seriously scary.

Details

Guardians of the Galaxy: Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, and Benicio Del Toro. Directed by James Gunn. Written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman. Based on the Marvel comic book by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.

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Gunn must juggle so many plot elements — so many booming galactic battles, so many whisker-close brushes with death, so many almost-poignant moments of epiphany — that it's little wonder he loses his grip on the thing. Then again, he and Nicole Perlman wrote the script (adapting it from the comic books by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning), so they bear some responsibility for its top-heaviness. Gunn inserts occasional moments of wonder — in the most effective one, a character makes a sacrificial act to save the others, as twinkling lights, ostensibly representing compassion and generosity, dot the frame. But he doesn't bother to smooth over the seams. Time and again, he cues us what to feel, which is different from creating the perfect weather conditions for it and then stepping back.

What really kills the fun — as opposed to the Fun! — of Guardians of the Galaxy is its desperation to be casual and quirky and irreverent nearly every minute. Groot and Rocket are, admittedly, well designed: Rocket, with his expressively raggedy fur, comes off as a crotchety refugee from Fantastic Mr. Fox. And the perpetually sorrowful Groot, his arms and legs a tangle of art nouveau roots, strikes the right balance between somber elegance and whimsy. (Diesel makes the most of the single growly line Groot repeats throughout the movie — "I'm Groot!" — turning it into a lament or a declaration as needed.)

Oddly enough, these CG characters are the most naturalistic element of Guardians of the Galaxy.

Otherwise, the movie works so hard to advertise its disreputability that it comes off as anything but. At one point, Quill not-so-subtly flips the bird to an intergalactic cop, putting an old schoolboy's trick to use. Pratt — an actor with a degree of rakish charm — feigns innocence at his own naughtiness, and the moment is almost funny. But though Quill is, ostensibly, a lady-killer who swears like a sailor on shore leave, he's repeatedly forced to use the distractingly demure term "a-hole." The saltier, full-strength version would surely give offense to the dark lords of the MPAA, who would, in their wrath, snatch away his movie's PG-13 rating. It's all just too precious for words. Especially those four-letter ones.

 
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29 comments
PinkDucky
PinkDucky

Wtf does this critic like?! Pretentious French films & Twilight?! This movie was very well written, casted and executed!

chuck9399
chuck9399

I signed up for this just to call this writer an absolute pretentiousness idiot. This has to be one of the best movies this summer hands down and I have seen all of the major ones. This movie didn't fail in any form or fashion. Hell, I came in not expecting much and left wishing I could walk right back in and see it again. Feel good movie for sure...very funny too! Oh, and the real joke is the inability of this writer...dumbass he is...

Al Uno
Al Uno

Stupid article this movie was really good

Brian Z. Anderson
Brian Z. Anderson

A horribly written article and an even worse review. Did this guy even watch the movie?

Mauricio Zamorano
Mauricio Zamorano

For dealing with so much content, staying with the plot, making sure it stays consistent with the marvel movie universe that they are tying into and keeping it funny, the director and writers did a great job. They're just being too nitpicky, remember folks, this movie is more for kids...and adult nerds lol

Leo Tavarez
Leo Tavarez

Wow...whoever wrote this is an idiot.

Silvio Alexis Morales
Silvio Alexis Morales

This review is by far the worse Ive read in a long time. Not because he didnt like the film but because this review seems insincere. Seems like the reviewer had an agenda with the movie, as if they didnt offer him tickets to the premier or as if they hadnt invited him to watch the early screening with the rest of the critics. This review totally missed the mark... To say this movie was not fun says more about the writer than the film.

RompComp
RompComp

I fully agree with this review. Going into this movie I knew not to expect too much depth, and I was completely right. I'll admit that I - and apparently the reviewer - have tastes that most people would label as pretentious, so perhaps this movie was not targeted towards our demographic. Even so, I think the reviewer hit the nail on the head with her analysis. The movie had "fun" moments, I won't deny that, but overall I found the lackluster plot too easy and too reliant on universally-liked music (actually the music was my favorite part!) and blazing computer-generated fight scenes. Not at all a challenging film, but I guess you don't go to these films to be challenged but to simply sit back and enjoy. Pretentious, I know I know...I guess I'll just stick to Aronofsky films. 

P.S. As usual, John C. Reilly was hilarious, despite his lack of on-screen time. 

Mike Casey
Mike Casey

It was one if the most fun movies I've ever seen whoever wrote this is a douchebag

Derrick Christopher Mustelier
Derrick Christopher Mustelier

This review is the height of pretentiousness. Stick to Darren Aronofsky films and stay away from your ostensibly in-depth critical analysis of "fun."

Nick Mohammadpour
Nick Mohammadpour

Wow. I may never read another New Times review again. This review "Misses the mark on fun"..The movie did EXACTLY what it was intended to do..Give people a break from reality for 2 hours of good times in a movie packed with action, fun, and charm..This critic may need to take out all mention of Guardians Of The Galaxy in this artice and just insert their own name...SO LAME

Lendy Pacho
Lendy Pacho

The movie was great! The best this summer!

Austin Heffernan
Austin Heffernan

Don't y'all know that they have to make a bad review because that's what generates clicks? #AllForTheMoney

Ken Lam
Ken Lam

Wow this is one of the worst & cynical reviews I've ever read. First off this movie by Marvel was a complete wildcard...that Worked! It showed a comic movie can have perfect balance between light & dark elements & doesn't have to be all grim dark & moody which I why I wasn't thrilled with dark knight rises, man of Steel or Green Lantern. This movies owns in the space adventure compared to DCs failed attempt in GL. Totally proved a talking Racoon & Tree beings were as important as the other characters & still fans of DC are waiting on a Wonderwoman movie....... GOTG was a Great Ride & even though they did change certain things from its source it was acceptable & they made it work! New times need to hire better critics they bombed in the palm con article & now this.

Mike Linder
Mike Linder

I'm all for a healthy review, theirs plenty of holes to poke in the movie, but to say it isn't "fun"? I don't remember smiling more throughout a movie, and I need to see it again because I missed lines due to people laughing to much in the theater

Michael Dittmeier
Michael Dittmeier

Whoever wrote this review is a dick. I enjoyed this movie very much and would go see it again.

Jo Braga
Jo Braga

Click bait and we all fell for it.

Carter Carter
Carter Carter

Enjoyed this movie very much. Go see it you will not be sorry :) Fun for Everyone #WeAreGroot

Anastasia Biltmore
Anastasia Biltmore

Misses the mark on fun? Everyone in my feed has been saying exactly the opposite to the point where I actually want to go see it and I usually don't go for these kinds of movies.

Leonel Perez
Leonel Perez

misses the mark on fun lol...someone must be a very dead inside kind of person

Gauthier Jon
Gauthier Jon

Missed the mark on fun? Have you not seen this movie??

 

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