The original Star Wars Holiday Special was an unmitigated disaster. Quickly produced for TV in 1978 – just a year after the first movie was released – it was a completely misjudged mix of musical segments, embarrassingly bad Wookies and, somehow, the first appearance of Boba Fett (albeit in animated form, which is widely regarded as the high point of the two hour special). It’s become infamous over the years – especially as it was only ever broadcast once and never officially released on VHS, DVD or any other format. It arguably reached its highest level of infamy in the 90s, when bootleg VHS copies began circulating at conventions. Even Star Wars creator George Lucas, who wasn’t involved in the production of the special, was highly critical of it. And he created Jar Jar Binks.
Released on Disney Plus to coincide with the 42nd Anniversary of the Holiday Special, the Lego Star Wars Holiday Special is a very different beast indeed, though it also focuses on ‘Life Day’, as the original special did – with ‘Life Day’ being the Star Wars universe’s convenient substitute for Christmas. It’s entirely CGI animated and played for laughs, avoiding the live action cringe of the 1978 special (which was also played for laughs for the most part, but entirely missed the mark – and no, unintentional laughs don’t count).
Following the events of The Rise of Skywalker, Rey is attempting to train Finn in the ways of the Force. When things go slightly awry, Rey begins to doubt her abilities as a teacher – and finds a key in a Jedi temple that whisks her and BB-8 through time and space, allowing her to witness and become involved in key moments in the Star Wars timeline. As Rey’s adventure through time and space take her to the events of Return of the Jedi – whereupon Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader steal the key for their own galactic domination purposes, Finn, Rose and Poe are preparing themselves for a Life Day celebration, which looks suspiciously like Christmas (turkey and Christmas jumpers included).
At less than 50 minutes, the Lego Star Wars Holiday Special doesn’t outstay its welcome. Though the scenes of Life Day preparation aren’t laugh out loud funny, the recreations of key Star Wars moments are genuinely brilliant and often hilarious in the way that they’re messed around with thanks to the Back to the Future 2-esque time travel shenanigans. There’s even a brief moment from The Mandalorian, with everyone’s new favourite Star Wars character – The Child – making a short appearance. Key moments of dialogue and action from many of the movies are present and there’s even little digs at memeworthy moments such as shirtless Kylo Ren. The only real complaint I have is that Helen Sadler – filling in for Daisy Ridley as Rey – really tries too hard to do an impression of Ridley’s voice, which does become a bit OTT at times.
Overall though, it’s an awful lot of fun. It’s a fun comedic caper for the younglings and stuffed full of hilarious references to Star Wars events and characters. It’s quite the crowd pleaser, unlike the disastrous 1978 special. If you have Disney Plus and you’re looking to get into the, um, Life Day spirit, it’s well worth a watch.
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