The release of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 was more anticipated than its predecessor. The 2014 movie required you to talk people into seeing GOTG, Sr. Now we are living in a post-baby Groot world and his herb-y little face is all that people can talk about. You can even scroll down to read Brad Morris’ review of the film. If you haven’t seen the sequel yet, just imagine if Ally McBeal’s dancing baby and an big-eyed koala had a plant child.
Now imagine that it’s more cute than that description.
Groot went from a towering side kick with a limited vocabulary to a marketable character in this iteration of the films. The opening sequence is a playful dance between a toddler-like plant and a battle set in the sky. The fight is exposition for the story but it doesn’t matter. What matters is how adorable dancing shrubbery can be. Ten minutes in, the price of admission is justified. (This would be a good time to add that I am easily entertained.) While many will argue that Groot is a cheap attempt to win over an audience, I’d argue that Groot is the character we need but don’t deserve. He’s literally too good for this galaxy.
No Vocab Necessary
A characters with a limited vocabulary isn’t anything new. You can look to the Minions, Hodor, Beaker, Tinker Bell or any Ewok you find in the forrest to tell you that an extensive vocabulary isn’t necessary to be a lovable character. Once an audience is aware that a character is good natured, innocent and a little dimwitted they are yours forever. The limitations of only having a three word lexicon makes inflection and timing even more important. While there are times that “I am Groot” approaches being over used, it never quite reaches the threshold of overuse.
One way to tell if a character is well loved is to see what kind of chintzy crap people will buy just because it reminds them of the character they love. I’d like to coin the phrase “the happy meal toy factor.” The moment the idea of Groot was conceived, he was meant to be nestled beside a flat cheeseburger with soggy fries. He has that happy meal toy “It” factor. People love Groot paraphenalia. Here’s some of the best items money can buy:
Groot costume for your baby Groot
Actual Retail Value: $95.00 …yikes
Description: Not actual tree bark *hat not included
Groot Rag Doll
Actual Retail Price: $15.00
Description: For those who like to explain what Groot actual looks like
Crochet Pen Cozy Groot Head Pen Cover
Actual Retail Price: $13.00
Description: “Fits most disposable pens!”
Groot Cosplay Costume
Actual Retail Price: $2,000
Description: Made to order.
*Which means some 5′ 2″ person could dress up as a slightly shorter than average Groot.
He’s impossible to hate
Sort-of. In this article, Vulture argued that Groot is “too perfect.” McHenry argues that Groot is used as a crutch. He goes even further to say that Marvel movies have a tendency to bend “toward the unicorn-flavored lowest common denominator.”
McHenry got a two-for-one Starbucks/Groot diss. It’s easy to read Groot as a cheap joke for easy targets (like me!) but the alternative is horrifying. The cuteness keeps the movie light. There are plenty of superhero movies that are depressingly dark. I distinctly remember watching Superman destroy an entire city during one fight. That scene needed something cute and fluffy. Movies that don’t take themselves too seriously are needed. We don’t deserve Groot, but we do need his precious face to keep storylines from slipping to the dark side.