Running time: 6 minutes (the actual short is about 3-4 minutes)
Voice Cast: Vin Diesel (Groot), Bradley Cooper (Rocket)
4 stars out of 5
Need something to do while microwaving your dinner? You can catch an episode of I Am Groot in the same time it takes to reheat your dinner, letting you catch up on the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in between meals. Groot (Vin Diesel) joins the pantheon of MCU characters with their own series with this new Disney+ series that focuses solely on him. Although the series has a combined run time of about only 15 minutes, it's separated into six bite-sized episodes that are just perfect for those in between moments for when you don't have time to catch a full episode (or film) of a show, but want to get that MCU itch scratched.
I Am Groot is a 3D-animated action comedy series that takes place in the MCU. It centres around the eponymous Groot, who is a child in the series. It takes place between Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and sees the hijinks that Groot gets up to, as he faces everything from well-meaning robots to alien birds to dancing shapeshifters.
In case you're wondering where to find the series, I Am Groot doesn't list all its episodes under a single title. In fact, each episode gets its own title on Disney+. In recommended viewing order, the episodes are:
Groot's First Steps
The Little Guy
Groot Takes A Bath
Since the title character infamously only has one line of dialogue, the shorts are dialogue-light (although not dialogue-free, as you'll see in later episodes). But this also means that we see Groot vocalise more than ever in the series — from effortful grunts to cheers of triumph to other sounds that are not quite dialogue, but convey the same meaning. As a scriptwriter, I was waiting with bated breath to see how a series with no dialogue would be executed (although screenplays are far more than just dialogue). I was highly amused by the result.
Without dialogue, the shorts turn heavily to its musical score to convey mood and information. In that sense, it feels a little like vintage animated shorts, which tended to be dialogue-light but have wonderful, evocative music that complemented the action of the short. Despite its modern, 3D-animated style, this aspect made I Am Groot feel like the classic Disney shorts of yore.
Spoiler alert: Rocket (Bradley Cooper) makes an appearance in one of the episodes, which is the most dialogue-heavy one of them all. He doesn't take up the focus of that episode though, so it still remains firmly on Groot, his actions and his cute grunts and cheers. We don't get to see the other Guardians of the Galaxy in the series (not a recognisably drawn version at any rate), although since there are five other shorts coming up, we could very well see them in later episodes.
But Groot really holds his own in the series. He's cute and adorable — but oddly violent at times. In that respect, he behaves much like small human children do, in the way they can suddenly get wildly ferocious when they want something. He's absolutely adorable and a treat to watch in all his animated glory.
However, the episodes are much shorter than their listed running time. Almost half of each short is devoted to the credits (including all the international translations), although the episodes make up for it by providing a truncated version of the MCU opening credits. There are no post-credit scenes (given that each short is already the length of a post-credit scene, this would be tricky), so when the short ends, it ends.
Overall, the series is an entertaining watch that fits into all those in-between moments of free time that we have. It's short (both in terms of the number of episodes and the length of each episode), but it's cute. In case you're wondering — this isn't the first series of Groot shorts to hit Disney+. There's also a 2017 2D-animated series, Rocket & Groot, which features the pair as they attempt to repair their ship. So while we wait for the second season, there's some Groot goodness to check out.