August 18, 2014
Family Film Blogging: Guardians of the Galaxy
Posted by Christine Hurt

Man, the deadweight loss of moving cannot be underestimated!  We are finishing the busiest yet least productive summer in history, but we did find time to go to the movies!

So, I'll start with the fact that when we saw the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy, I looked over at our youngest and said, "You will have to make Dad take you to that one."  A racoon?  I don't think so.  I have taken the kids to a lot of really dumb movies (top of that list:  Dougal, Space Chimps, Ice Age 24), but I have standards.  A superhero raccoon is where I draw the line.  Can you see Iron Man fighting side by side with a raccoon?  No.  But then, when the movie came out a few weeks ago, the reviews were pretty universally great.  And, there was a lot of construction and confusion at my house.  So, off to Guardians of the Galaxy we went.

My take:  Guardians is the Fletch of the Marvel universe.  That is a compliment.  The movie has a lot of action, violence, etc., but it's also really funny.  And not funny every half hour like the Avengers or even the Iron Man series, but funny throughout.  The big four Avengers are serious.  Captain America is super-serious, and Thor couldn't even get the timing right on the funniest line in the Avengers ("He's adopted.")  Tony Stark is usually funny, but had serious mental illness in his last movie that dampened the mood.  Peter Quill (aka Star Lord or Star-Lord) is mostly funny.  Action comedies are a hard combination to get right, but Guardians seems to get it right.  We started quoting the movie as we were walking out of the theater, and are still quoting it today.

For Marvel junkies out there, the Peter Quill backstory does not follow any of the various Marvel narratives.  In the movie, his mother dies, apparently from cancer, when Peter is small.  She speaks lovingly of his father, who she believes will return to them.  Minutes later, a spaceship arrives at the hospital and takes Peter away.  The next time we see him, he is a grown man flying around the galaxy retrieving artifacts for shadowy clients.  (The second scene is reminiscent of Indiana Jones, but Peter Quill is no archaelogical genius.)  Unfortunately, he unwittingly becomes involved in a high-stakes grab for a valuable object, the importance of which ties this movie into other Marvel movies.

Quill eventually bands together with four others -- Rocket (the raccoon), Drax (who looks like a body builder, but seems to lose most fights for some reason), Groot (a tree-man), and Gamora (the requisite female).  The movie is very self-aware, and people don't just casually join up with a talking raccoon.  There is quite a bit of condescension there, which gets dispelled, thereby dispelling my own skepticism.  Groot is the fan favorite, and Gamora is sufficiently complex and interesting to be more than just the token girl.  Most of the buzz about the movie is how awesome Chris Pratt (Parks & Rec, Lego Movie) is as Quill/Star-Lord.  He is very enjoyable.  Indiana Jones Harrison Ford enjoyable, I'm not sure.  We'll (anxiously) wait for the sequel.

One caveat:  The Marvel/Avengers movies are fairly family-friendly.  (Our 6 year-old is still a little too freaked out by the more graphic and dark Iron Man movies, though.)  Guardians is definitely more on the 13-level of PG-13 for language than it needs to be, but your mileage may vary.

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