James Gunn is really on a roll. Every single one of his Marvel or DC comic book adaptions has been a hit so far. Both Guardians, The Suicide Squad, Peacemaker, and now the Guardians special. With that being said, the Guardians special is enjoyable, but not near the other heights Gunn has reached. The Marvel Special Presentations have both been good though, so this is a trend the MCU needs to embrace (they better make a Valentines Day special). The story is fine, as Mantis and Drax want to throw Peter a Christmas Party, and they head to Earth to get all the necessary ingredients for a good Christmas Party. Gunn's specialty, humor, is in full display the entire time, with plenty of actual good bits squeezed into a 50 minute window. The motive for Mantis' concern for Peter seems meh, but it gets us from A-B so I get it, though they definitely could have just said "Guardians want to make Peter happy" instead of giving us a random connection. It's super sweet that Mantis and Peter have that unique relationship now, but it's really built up as this crazy and dramatic thing when it's really not. Heck Mantis' ability is literally empathy, so she should know how Peter would care about the reveal. The two songs introduced in the special are awesome, and the guest start nails his job, even if it's a bit too meta for me. The story is concise, funny, has a lot of heart, and is a perfect addition to a LONG list of Christmas classics. Making Cosmo a girl dog is an interesting choice, and I'm curious to see how Cosmo plays out in Guardians 3, because I wasn't exactly in love with Cosmo in the limited time we got to see her. My real only complaint is the use of the Guardians. Clearly Marvel didn't want to dish out for CGI, so only Mantis and Drax go on the mission, leaving Cosmo, Rocket, Groot, and even Peter behind. The animated bits at the beginning and end were wonderful too, calling back to classic animated Christmas movies. So while it was a bit disappointing in term of character use, the presentation is fun to watch, and a good short film to put on for this holiday season. Hopefully Marvel leans into these special presentations, they desperately need some successes.
Summary: While cheaply focusing only on Mantis and Drax, the special is funny, sweet, and a great addiction to your list of movies you should watch each Christmas.