I Am Groot, 2022.
Directed by Kirsten Lepore
Starring Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper
A series of five shorts featuring the seedling Guardian of the Galaxy Groot on several new and unusual mini-adventures.
Taking place somewhere between Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 and Vol 2., a period in which our heroic little cutting is going through propagation (one for the green fingered among you), Kirsten Lepore’s series of shorts are like inconsequential splinters of joy, in which not a lot happens in terms of world building or a narrative through-line, but features enough moments of this cute Groot offshoot making you chuckle to justify five minutes of your time.
Introduced in Groot’s First Steps, which has a brilliant 8-bit theme, we find our titular potted seedling embodying all of the things we’ve come to love about this CGI tree; his childish petulance as he’s quickly usurped by a Bonsai Tree, the expressive way in which he employs his limited 3-word vocabulary, and his propensity for putting goodness above all else.
All of the episodes follow a similar pattern in which Groot deals with the fallout of his impetuous actions, before ending with a comedic beat, most of which land by smacking a huge grin on your face. Particularly funny is some of the slapstick humour in The Little Guy, an episode where Groot uncovers a civilisation of tiny creatures living beneath the surface of a planet, and embarks on a world-changing minute that features some excellent toilet humour, a misplaced step, and a sigh-of-relief coda. The seedlings among the audience will be in stiches.
For the grown ups there’s Magnum Opus, an episode which features Drax (kind-of), a reference to A.L.F., and the welcome appearance of Bradley Cooper as Rocket Racoon, who immediately adds weight to the chaotic three minutes simply because he’s another recognisable member of the Guardians.
While the short runtime doesn’t afford you the chance for layers of subtext in what are essentially get-ready-for-school distractions, beyond Groot’s inherent force-of-nature positivity, there are allegorical elements to take from at least one of the episodes. Groot Takes a Bath might be the silliest of the shorts, but ultimately it contains a message about leaves not being able to grow because you’ve used all of the water. Maybe I’m reading too much into a three minute cartoon in which we’ve seen our petulant plant try on an assortment of wigs while being attacked by an otherworldly bird?
Even the weakest snippet, Groot’s Pursuit, which sees our inquisitive stump facing off against an Abyss invoking alien in a Strictly Come Dancing style showdown, ends with a moment of knowing anarchy in keeping with the characters impulsive nature that will make you snort.
Neither “Really Groot” or “a load of old Groot”, I Am Groot is playful, creative and enjoyable enough to make you want them to branch out with a second season of shorts.
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I Am Groot is now streaming on Disney+.