Since I’ve recently sung the praises of The Guardians of the Galaxy cinematic franchise, there’s probably little doubt among you that I also enjoyed the holiday special released on Disney+ on November 25th. And enjoy it I did… Though not nearly as much as the preceding two films. [Audience gasps in shock.]

But that’s okay! Because this isn’t Guardians 3. This is a 40-minute (or so) diversion, made to cash in on the holidays. It doesn’t break any new ground. It adds little to the MCU as a whole. And it’s probably non-canon. Or is it? I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter. What matters is that this diversion is fun, well put together and well acted.

You have Chris Pratt reprising his role as galactic hero/scoundrel Peter Quill (who prefers the much dorkier-sounding “Star-Lord” moniker). And you have the rest of the crew, with Dave Bautista coming back as Drax the Destroyer, Karen Gillian as Nebula, Pam Klementieff as Mantis, Vin Diesel as Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Sean Gunn as Kraglin Obfonteru and even Michael Rooker as Yondu Udonta. On the flipside, Quill’s love interest Gamora, previously played by Zoe Saldaña, is absent (likely due to her character’s untimely departure in Avengers: Endgame).

But that’s also okay! Because the special makes up for it by casting Kevin Bacon as none other than himself. It’s been established in the previous two films that Quill is a big fan of his, particularly of his 1980s flick Footloose. The holiday special also lets us know that thanks to Yondu, Quill’s mean-spirited-but-not-really stepfather/abductor, Quill hasn’t had a proper Christmas since leaving Earth.

To fix this, Mantis and Drax set out to kidnap Bacon and bring him to Quill as a Christmas gift. What ensues is a hilarious fish-out-of-water story, in which Mantis and Drax (drunkenly) stumble through Los Angeles in search of Bacon. As you’d expect, there’s plenty of action and silliness, and with James Gunn at the helm as both director and screenwriter, you can bet his signature humor is very much intact here.

But like I said, this is only a 40-minute special, so there isn’t all that much to it. The stakes are incredibly low, especially by the MCU standards, and while most of the cast is present, the spotlight is on Mantis and Drax. The rest are just sort of there. Even Quill doesn’t get all that much screentime. Therefore, the biggest source of tension is how Quill will react once he finally meets Bacon face to face. And though his reaction will probably not surprise you, it will at least amuse you. Unless, of course, you hate these characters and Gunn’s sense of humor.

The ending ties everything neatly to the beginning, and does so in that heart-warming “holiday special” way, which, incidentally, isn’t all that different from the endings of the other Guardians films.

So, is this thing worse seeing? Yes, it is! It’s more Guardians after all. And it’s Guardians done right. However, if you expect an epic story in the vein of the previous two films, you’ll be severely disappointed. In the end, this is no more than a side story. A good side story, yes, but a side story nonetheless.