Guardians of the Galaxy is an open fire hydrant of a summer movie: more fun than should be allowed in such hot weather.
It's the first film based on a comic book to actually play like a comic book, a slick escapist treat.
Peter Quill (Chris Pratt of Parks and Recreation) is a freelance ravager (space pirate) who pilfers a mysterious orb. Suddenly, he's being chased by everyone with a warp drive.
In the most crazy and crowded prison in the cosmos, Quill puts together a ragtag crew of scoundrels from every quadrant of the sky, including a genetically enhanced trigger-happy raccoon (voiced almost unrecognizably by Bradley Cooper to sound like a cabdriver from Camden).
The gadgetry and fight scenes are nicely rendered. The aeronautical battles, though, fall well short of state-of-the-art. Maybe they're collateral damage to the film's goofy style.
Because the special effects in Guardians look slightly, almost intentionally, chintzy. It's as though director James Gunn wanted to make sure we stayed in the farce and didn't get sucked in by the sci-fi trappings.
This is entertainment straight out of the professional wrestling handbook: larger than life and emphatically artificial. Unless, of course, you believe the criminal class light years from our planet is exchanging banter cribbed from bad Bill Murray movies.
Speaking of pro wrestling, Dave Bautista, the WWE's Batista, has a wonderful turn as the Guardians' behemoth, Drax the Destroyer. And Zoe Saldana gives one of her best tinted-skin-alien performances yet as Gamora.
Pratt carries the film loosely, as the super-chill Quill, who seems to think he can sweet-talk his way out of the scariest situation.
Michael Rooker and John C. Reilly make the most of their comedic supporting roles. Also impressive as more grimly one-dimensional characters are Lee Pace (Halt and Catch Fire) and Doctor Who's Karen Gillan.
Guardians of the Galaxy has a crazy jukebox. Driven by Top-40 acts from the '70s like Elvin Bishop, Redbone, and the Five Stairsteps, it sounds like one of those cheesy K-Tel albums.
Oldies in space? Hey, it works, along with all the other disparate elements in this frothy action spoof. Guardians of the Galaxy throws everything in the blender, including, yes, Rupert Holmes' "Piña Colada Song."