By Julie Catherine and George Bate
Warning: This review contains spoilers for The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special
One of the brilliant things about Star Wars is its ability to take things fans previously did not like or even ridiculed and, over time, honor their legacy in unique ways. Perhaps one of the best examples of this is the much discussed Star Wars Holiday Special from 1978. Following the overwhelming critical and financial success of the original Star Wars film, the Holiday Special featured some of the wackiest Star Wars content we’ve ever seen, so much so that George Lucas has essentially tried to bury the project ever since. These attempts haven’t stopped Star Wars fans from loving the original Holiday Special in a “it’s so bad, it’s good” sort of way and we’ve seen this love translate to a number of modern Star Wars projects. Not only did the Holiday Special feature the debut of Boba Fett, but it also included the pulse rifle that would eventually become Din Djarin’s signature weapon and showcased the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk for the first time.
Now, 42 years later, the legacy of the original holiday special continues with the release of The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special, a fun, friendly, largely-kid oriented project streaming on Disney+. LEGO and Star Wars have collaborated in a number of ways over the years, including the iconic LEGO Star Wars video games and a series of other LEGO Star Wars shorts and specials. But, by far, the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is the biggest profile collaboration between LEGO and Star Wars yet and, all in all, the special really works.
The non-canon LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special follows the events of Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker in showing what Rey, Finn, Poe, and company are up to after the fall of the First Order. The special sees Rey, in seeking to become a better Jedi master for her apprentice Finn, journeying across time using a mysterious object she finds in an ancient Jedi temple. Along the way, Rey encounters a whole host of classic Star Wars characters and plays her part in various significant events throughout the saga. Meanwhile, Finn and the others are aboard the Millennium Falcon preparing for Life Day celebrations.
The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special feels like a wacky trip down memory lane, re-experiencing iconic Star Wars moments infused with that hallmark sense of humor we’ve grown accustomed to in LEGO projects. The special, similar to its notorious predecessor, does not shy away from the ludicrous and this is definitely a good thing. With the gravity of the plot in the sequel trilogy, the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is refreshing in being a no-holds-barred, inconsequential thrill ride. The wackiness of the plot lends itself to some hilarious moments that are sure to delight Star Wars fans, one of the highlights being three versions of Obi-Wan all meeting one another and proclaiming, “Hello there!” There’s plenty of easter eggs in the special as well, including an appearance from none other than Max Rebo himself! This is followed by arguably the special’s greatest joke, delivered by Poe Dameron about Max Rebo’s bandmates. The adventure Rey goes on is really engaging and doesn’t overstay its welcome with the special’s tight 44 minute runtime. Quick transitions from iconic event to iconic event, essentially in the first half of the special, are quite entertaining and really lean into the fast-paced, nonchalant style the LEGO movies tend to go for.
Arguably one of the coolest things about the special is the notion of Rey training Finn. Finn’s Force sensitivity was finally revealed in a brilliant way in The Rise of Skywalker, but this was left relatively unexplored and open-ended in the film. Fans have yearned to see what Finn’s path as a Jedi may look like and, even though it’s non-canon, the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special does just that. If anything, the special definitely made us want to see more with Rey and Finn’s relationship and Finn’s evolution as a Jedi in a future canon project.
The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special clearly won’t be the infamous project that the original holiday special was, and that’s not necessarily a problem. The original holiday special is, largely, famous for being so unexpectedly bad and yet, somehow simultaneously, captivating. This is not the case with the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special. This special is an intelligently crafted project that embraces the craziness of its predecessor, while avoiding its unintentional hilariousness.
The special does, however, struggle in a few areas. Although it is very entertaining, engaging, and fast paced, it is, ultimately, quite forgettable. There may be a few jokes or moments that linger afterward, but, in large part, it is quite disposable. It is also more geared towards children than families, a criticism that has been (unfairly, in our opinion) been lodged against other Star Wars projects like Star Wars Resistance. The kid-oriented focus on the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special isn’t a criticism per se, but it should be noted. Perhaps most disappointingly in the special is the voice-acting. While actors like Billy Dee Williams, Kelly Marie Tran, and Anthony Daniels reprise their roles from the films, the core cast are voiced by different actors, with varying degrees of success. It is not that the voice acting of Rey or Finn or Poe or Palpatine or Kylo Ren are poor, but it takes a while to get used to the fact that the voices of Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Ian McDiarmid, or Adam Driver respectively have not returned.
The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is a welcomed addition to the Star Wars saga, featuring hilarious moments, iconic moments, and a surprisingly interesting narrative. While some of the different voice acting may take some getting used to, the special’s fast-paced journey through the Skywalker saga and its re-introduction of the Life Day holiday make this well worth watching.
Images courtesy of Disney+, Lucasfilm, and LEGO.