The big streaming series from Marvel and Star Wars take all the headlines, but since its debut, Disney Plus has also slowly become a service stuffed with animated shorts. They… vary in quality. Some are shameless examples of brand synergy, like when Loki or Billie Eilish hang out with the Simpsons for a few painful minutes at a time. But if you dig a little deeper, there’s some great stuff, including some classic-style Mickey Mouse shorts, a refreshing take on Star Wars, and a surprisingly sweet series about Baymax from Big Hero 6. Now, you can add I Am Groot to that short list of shorts.
The series seems inevitable in retrospect. Ever since Groot (voiced, as always, by Vin Diesel) was turned into a baby, he’s been the Minion-style comic relief of the Marvel universe. Groot’s presence now often exists as a series of animated shorts that are tangentially related to the Guardians of the Galaxy movie he happens to be in. Why not turn those into standalone shorts? I Am Groot is extremely brief; the episodes are just a few minutes long each, and the whole thing lasts around 20 minutes. That’s basically as long as a post-credits scene in the MCU.
But it works well here — the gimmick doesn’t last long enough to overstay its welcome. There’s also a surprising amount of variety. One short has the feel of a sci-fi horror story, while another involves a fistfight with a bonsai tree. It’s all very silly and inconsequential, and the slapstick comedy is built around Groot’s tendency to 1) get very upset over the smallest of inconveniences and 2) make extremely bad choices. There’s not much to say about it other than it’s fun and goofy and will appeal specifically to the kinds of people who loved seeing a tiny Groot dance in a flower pot in the live-action movies. There’s a scene where he surfs on a bar of soap.
I Am Groot isn’t the kind of series to make you sign up for a new streaming service. But it does make me wish we saw more experimentation on these platforms. The big-budget shows like Loki or Obi-Wan are great — don’t get me wrong. But without a traditional TV schedule to adhere to, I’d love to see more offbeat things like I Am Groot, especially given how expansive all of these fictional universes are. That’s part of the reason I enjoyed What If…? so much. It just felt different.
That may be happening already, at least in part, given the rather sizable lineup of animated Marvel series that are in the works for Disney Plus. Some will expand the MCU’s canon, filling in the details left untouched by the live-action movies and shows. But hopefully at least a few will be as delightfully inessential as watching Groot relax in a hot tub.
I Am Groot is streaming on Disney Plus on August 10th.