By Daniel O’Connell
Are you in the mood for cultural/ethnic conflict? Mothers’ dying of cancer? Sexual relations with green people, pink people and sometimes purple people? This thing has all of them…in space. Yes, it’s true, you can watch Chris Pratt of Parks & Recreation’s fame debut on the cinema screen as a loveable goofball, but this time as a buff loveable goofball. He brings with him the same cliched group of rag-tag space criminals as you’ve come to expect from Hollywood – a feisty gun-toting raccoon, a proud and serious green woman, a tree trunk with feelings and Dave Bautista. The group flash around deep space, battling baddies in dark clothing and – surprise, surprise – eventually forming deep, lasting friendships. Blegh.
I saw the movie in a certified 1950s drive-in theater, one of the few surviving in Washington. It inhabited a small forest clearing somewhere amidst Port Townsend, the vestigial incarnation of a favorite American pastime. The parking spots were marked with pressed dunes of soil, and as we drove in a net of heavy xenon beams aligned with the projector screen before fading out to give way for the projector. Surprisingly, they had managed to maintain the classic hook-speaker system, whereby you pull out a wired speaker and attach it to the side of your car. For fear of bugs – and the screams of small children – we resigned to tuning in to the glitzy sound-effects with our radio.
The opening pulls a classic American switcheroo: It prods encouragingly at your heartstrings before abruptly sliding into a groovy rendition of Come and Get Your Love, to which our main man dances along rhythmically. Naturally, things don’t go as planned, and the screen is soon torn asunder by flitting swipes of lasers as the easily identified baddie does all he can to stop Pratt from escaping with a mysterious object. There’s also the pink woman shaming it up in his ship with whom he evidently “slept” the night before, but she is quickly dispatched of (I blame the patriarchy).
All in all, it’s a fitting intro. It vies to cover all the bases of a summer cinema crowdpleaser: Action, which varies from oh-my-will-the-main-character-get-hurt hand-to-hand combat to wow-these-rainbow-colored-people-aren’t-that-good-at-shooting space warfare; Romance, an awkward process whereby Buff Goofball tries to teach Proud Green Woman to dance, a concept that utterly baffles her; and Comedy, as Rodent Manboy and Groot “Grooty-pie” Grootson banter back and forth in terse hissing and basic-bitch grammatical assertions.
My only real gripe with the movie would lie in its cliches and conventions, but it would hardly be fair for me to criticize these points when it’s clear that that’s all it was trying to be. Overall, it’s fun, it’s entertaining and it’s got something for most every schmuck. Word around the urinal is that a sequel isn’t too far off. If it’s your thing you should have plenty more enjoyment to come. So go see it. Or don’t. I didn’t make the goddamn movie.