I Am Groot will give you exactly what you expect and nothing more: twenty minutes of baby Groot in cute, passable, but ultimately disposable short adventures.
There are so many acclaimed MCU Disney+ shows that I’ve yet to see. Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, Ms. Marvel, the second half of Moon Knight. And yet I chose to watch I Am Groot before any of those … clearly, I have my priorities in order.
I really wouldn’t have given this little collection of shorts the time of day had I not been a massive fan of the first two Guardians of the Galaxy films. They’re among my favorite entries in the MCU and contain some of my favorite characters in the franchise, so I had a very, very mild curiosity to see what this had in store. I Am Groot is a collection of five shorts centered around Groot (Vin Diesel), taking place after the first Guardians film when Groot has been recently reborn as a small child. He goes to a few places, gets into a few shenanigans, causes some mayhem … and that’s about it. I don’t think anyone would have assumed these shorts to be anything that deep or meaningful, and sure enough, they’re not. But if you’ve got about twenty minutes to kill and are looking for something mindless, with just enough cuteness and creativity to hold your attention, then I Am Groot is perfectly passable.
The first short of I Am Groot, titled “Groot’s First Steps”, is exactly what the title indicates: it’s baby Groot walking for the first time in his new life. This short is cute, but it’s the most forgettable of the bunch by far, as nothing funny happens, the imagery leaves no impression, and you already know how it’s going to play out. The next short, “The Little Guy”, has more to it, especially visually, as Groot is outside on some alien planet. He comes across a group of very tiny aliens and plays with them … only to actually be attacking and torturing them, causing them to fight back. The cruelty, though very sanitized, is what makes this short amusing to me, and had it followed through with that at the very end instead of backing out at the last second, I’d consider this a pretty funny few minutes overall.
The third short is “Groot’s Pursuit”, in which Groot is awakened on his ship by a mysterious intruder and proceeds to give chase. The intruder itself turns out to be… not what he expected, to put it very vaguely. This is my favorite short of them all, due to its WTF factor in how Groot and the intruder interact, an actual mean-spirited ending, and the novelty of an instance where the line “I am Groot” is actually what Groot means to say. It’s followed up by another solid little short, “Groot Takes a Bath”. That title makes this short sound like the lowest level of kiddie fare, but as Groot does indeed bathe, he grows leaves over his body in various ways, which leads to a bit of cute visual humor in how he “styles” himself. Though it’s again lessened by the ending, this time because of something Groot does to a creature who interrupts his fun. Had the short not shown the final state of said creature and left it to our imagination as to what exactly happens, it would have been the funniest part of I Am Groot as a whole.
The Guardians films are undoubtedly ridiculous and silly, but they also have a surprising edge and dark sense of humor to them that helps them further stand out from the MCU. I Am Groot is clearly more aimed specifically at children, and as a result, that edge is pretty much nonexistent. I know that I’m judging these shorts for what I want them to be instead of what they are, but I can’t help but notice that difference when they’re technically part of the same series as two of my favorite comic book movies. Such comparisons also make it noticeable when the animation on Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), who shows up in the final short “Magnum Opus”, is noticeably stiffer than in the movies. This ending segment shows Groot scrounge up materials from his ship in extreme ways to craft something to give to Rocket and the rest of the Guardians. This short is second only to “Groot’s First Steps” in terms of forgettability, as while his manner of collecting materials is a little amusing, the short didn’t make me laugh, and its touching little payoff is too stock to generate much emotion.
Overall, I Am Groot is pretty much exactly what you would expect. It’s a set of tiny, cute, passable yet unsubstantial shorts that you’ll probably enjoy while you’re watching but never think about after you’re done. I love Groot as a supporting character in a group with the other Guardians, but that’s very clearly where he fits best. He’s not an interesting character on his own, and even half of his best comedy comes from how others interact with him. So when he’s separated from his friends and we’re just following him, there’s not really much there to work with. But there’s not nothing to work with, so I still think that even something as trivial, small, and irrelevant as I Am Groot could have been funnier and more delightfully strange than this. Still, the whole thing is only twenty minutes long, so I’d say it’s worth that minimal amount of time if you’re even a little curious. I Am Groot is obviously aiming low, but it clears that low bar nonetheless.
I Am Groot is now available to watch on Disney Plus.