Set to the backdrop of ‘Awesome Mixtape #2,’ Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mysteries of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel cinematic universe continues to expand. Courtesy IMDb
Great characters, funny jokes, bright colors, awesome soundtrack and…Daddy issues??
Quite frankly, it’s unfair for me to review this film in an unbiased fashion, for two very distinct reasons.
First, Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 is aesthetically and stylistically catered to my tastes. This blog is called VIA VHS for crying out loud! Brights colors emblazoned across a space canvas in a blatant homage to the 80’s is the logo to this very blog! And this film is chock full of 80’s references throughout, it even stars Kurt Russell in a major role and is set against an amazing late 70s early 80s Soundtrack in Awesome Mix vol. 2, which may be even better than the first. If that’s not enough, the bright colors and constant silliness is tailor made for an ADD inflicted brain like my own (more on that later). As much as this film hits all the right check marks in regards to my own taste it was the themes and story behind this film that led to an unforgettable movie going experience. Which brings me to the second reason I can’t give this film an honest review….
My Step-Dad is Yondu.
I go to Christopher Nolan movies if I want a transcendent, emotional experience that shakes me to my core. Which is why I thought Dunkirk would be the movie that gut punched me into tears this summer, and it still may do that. I didn’t expect however, for an oddball film featuring a dancing baby tree as a featured character to also have that effect.
Like the Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2’s featured protagonist Peter Quill, sorry ahem, Starlord, I know very little, or nothing about my real father. Just some cool guy who…um…knew my Mom in the 80’s. This is personal info I know but it’s gonna get funny if you feel uncomfortable. For three and a half years my Mom raised me by herself. I was just as odd and imaginative then as I am now and since I had no siblings or cousins my age, I relied on my imagination for companionship and my Mom for love (greatest Mom ever). This was all great and fine but things were about to change dramatically. This is when the Yondu of the story comes in, except in this story his name is Cliff.
Cliff is a member of the United States Marine Corps, Cliff the Marine you can call him. He’s best friends with my aunts fiancé Chris (now my uncle) who’s also a Marine and my Mom Meets him at a gathering that both of these fellas were invited to. Eventually they get married and now Cliff the Marine is my Step-Father. Cliff, is a piece of work! As am I, but a very different piece of work. I’m scatterbrained, emotional, eccentric, contemplative. Cliff is a Marine. A Marine with a rough background we won’t get into. He’s organized, regimental, stubborn and proud. We share a few characteristics though, we rely on wit and sarcasm, we love sports way too much and we have very very combustible tempers. We resolve conflict in completely different ways. Because of this, for many years Cliff the Marine and I are Oil and Water.
Cliff is so proud he’s immune to hypocrisy. Once at a family BBQ, all the great craft beer was missing, so my best beer option was a Corona. Naturally I put a lime in the Corona bottle as custom demands, which is when Cliff notices this from afar and says to me in front of everyone “Fruit in your beer? You Gay?”. At the time Cliff was drinking a Mikes Hard Cranberry! I’m like Dad your fucking beer is Purple. Oblivious to the hypocrisy he nursed Mikes Hard Cranberries the entire night without remorse.
Cliff was tough on me though. He screamed at me allot and quite honestly I was scared of him. Naturally he was my football coach and believe it or not I actually loved it. He couldn’t embarrass me from the stands because it was socially acceptable for him to yell at me on the sidelines. Plus I was really damn good at football so that bond was pretty secure. Despite Football, Cliff and I still have very little in common. Discussing anything with him was emotionally exhausting and his regimental nature was just as frustrated with my haphazard, clumsy, forgetful way of life. In high school my passion for acting conflicted with football, so despite my undying love for the sport, I chose to be a Thespian. A word that led to admittedly clever jokes about my sexuality (which he never meant seriously). But this also removed one of the few bonds we had.
It was frustrating being so different. My siblings who I’m very close to are very much like my Mom and myself. But their characteristic differences to me and similarities with Cliff still made me feel like an outcast at times. I constantly wondered what my biological father was like, do we have the same talents, same problems, same undying love of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups? To this day at 32 years old, I still don’t know. I haven’t seen him since I was too little to remember and that side of the family is virtually non-existant on Social Media. Except for one young lady, who is my biological Grandfather’s daughter from a later marriage. This girl reached out to me on Social Media recently and finally, for the first time in my life, I was not only speaking to the other side of my family, but meeting my biological father became a real possibility. It’s all I could think about. I have so many questions for him, I’m so curious to see what this man is like.
All of this happens two nights before I go to see Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2
The Aforementioned Gut Punch
If you’ve already seen Guardians Vol. 2 you know where I’m going with this. Starlord discovers his differences in the previous film Vol.1, which only strengthens his curiosity regarding his father. Like many boys who don’t know their real father, Peter imagines his Dad to be a fucking awesome guy. For Peter, that embodiment is none other than The Knight Rider David Hasselhoff. For me, Dale Jarret, Dan Marino, Bob Seger and Bill Goldberg were all hopeful biological donors. This theme, makes the casting of Kurt Russell, the quintessential 80s cool guy to be a great choice for Starlords Dad.
As the film goes on you realize that Ego, Starlords Dad isn’t exactly who he’s cracked up to be, in fact he’s kind of a dick. Not to mention he never has a very good reason for why he wasn’t around and isn’t exactly transparent about why he’s interested in his long lost son all of a sudden. As this plays out, you’re led to see the juxtaposition between Ego, and the man who abducted and raised Peter, Yondu.
Despite Yondu’s tough exterior and his penchant for threatening extreme violence to Peter, Yondu’s actions clearly convey he has a soft spot for him. A characteristic that causes him a great deal of trouble throughout the film. When Peter and the rest of the Guardians get into a dangerous predicament, it’s Yondu that risks everything to go and save Peter. As the film goes on you see that Yondu not only cared deeply for Peter, but abducted him to protect him from his dangerous and deceptive Father. If this blatant, in your face attack to my current daddy issue wasn’t enough, the emotional finality to this storyline was heart wrenching.
I realized years ago that I was grateful for my Step-Father. Despite our differences and all the knock down, drag out fights, he was good for me. We have had good times too, great times actually. Not only did he protect me, but he toughened me up. He taught me resolve and resilience, two characteristics that have served me well as of late. My Mother’s family gave me so much love, he gave me tough love. Thing is he never had to, I wasn’t his responsibility, but he treated me like I was. Still to this day he gets up at 0′ dark 30 to do a job he probably hates. He did it before because he was taking care of me and my bro and sis. He doesn’t have to do that job anymore but it his responsibility. He was there when I got hurt, when I did dumb shit, when I did cool shit, my wedding….everything. He will be my kids Grandpa. Not some random dude who knew my Mom in the 80s. I may have learned a while ago that my Dad (not Step-Dad) is awesome, but I did learn at GOTGvol2 that I need to be better about appreciating what I’ve been blessed with instead of wondering what if..
The Yondu theme of Guardians vol. 2 hit so close to home that it would be absolutely impossible for me to give this movie an honest score. I will say that this Vol. 2 is as much fun as the original, so if you enjoyed that film, you’ll be in for a treat.
If you’re Step-Dad was awesome, let him know sometime, he will really appreciate it. Even if he did teach you to catch by using one of the best high school QB arms in the state of West Virginia to hurl footballs at your face.