More dick talk than most Marvel movies: “If what’s between my legs had a hand…,” references to engorged nether regions, “Yes, I do have a penis, and it’s a pretty good one,” etc. But what are you gonna do? We can’t all grow from our own cuttings like cute Baby Groot, or get technogestated like the golden Sovereigns. Most of us get made “the old-fashioned way” — Drax’s dad used to tell him the details of his conception every year, and it was “a beautiful story.” And dads are the big theme here. Mostly, how bad they are, as seen in how they treat their women (abandonment, etc.), in how they treat their offspring (Thanos used to make Gamora fight her sister, with disastrous consequences), even in their very reasons for reproducing (more me). Perhaps the best you can hope for, as Star Lord wistfully delineates, is someone who goes on kickass adventures, hooks up with hot women, and fights robots. A pretty cool dad, if not one who does much actual fathering. It’s almost enough to make a body despair of family altogether, and seek out a group of friends as a primary community. No, even better: to decide that a group of friends is family, and Dad maybe needs to go. Surrounding all this is gobs and gobs of the Guardians’ trademark neurotic banter, awkwardly frank humor, and naked emotion amid explosive action. Director James Gunn has a vision and he puts it across, but it ain’t pretty. And points off for a final face-off that’s even more farcical than usual. (2017) — Matthew Lickona
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