In 1978, CBS broadcast the Star Wars Holiday Special, cashing in on the Star Wars craze and doing everything in their power to completely destroy everything good about the franchise. The original special is infamous for its disco-infused song-and-dance numbers, its casting (Bea Arthur, Art Carney, and Harvey Korman, really?), and the low quality of the sets and costumes. In fact, the only good thing about the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special was the introduction of Boba Fett in a short animated segment. Now, 42 years later, “there is another,” as Disney Plus is rolling out the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special, and this 47 minute extravaganza all but erases the sins of the past. And it does so with humor and heart.
The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special uses the patented LEGO brand of humor and applies it to the Star Wars universe. Some of the themes remain between the two specials, as both center around the Wookie Life Day celebration. While Rey (Helen Sadler) and her friends are getting ready to celebrate Life Day, the Jedi is troubled. Her training of Finn (Omar Miller) is not going well, and the Jedi texts aren’t really helping. Full of doubt, Rey seeks knowledge at a hidden Jedi temple that can only be accessed on Life Day, so she sets off with BB-8 to find the key to be a better master.
The key that she finds is an actual key, and it allows her to open portals through time to witness how other Jedi Masters trained their Padawans. This time travel allows her to journey throughout the entire Star Wars Saga where she interacts with various versions of Luke, Obi-Wan, Han Solo, Darth Vader, and more. As can be expected, things go awry and she begins to inadvertently mess with time — the Darth Vader vs Darth Vader scene was hilarious — and then she has to make it all right, all while learning the lesson she was sent to discover.
The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is hard and fast with the jokes. As with previous LEGO films, it constantly makes fun of the source material and nothing is safe. Shirtless Kylo Ren, Han shooting first, most of The Rise of Skywalker, all of it is fair game for ridicule and I loved every second of it.
But even with the humor and the non-stop jokes that span 43 years of Star Wars history, the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special also has a heart. The show never forgets that the core themes of Life Day — celebrating family and friends — is the true meaning of it all, and the Jedi hijinks take a back seat when needed to get that point across. The script by David Shayne brings a true balance to the force by keeping both elements on an even surface.
LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special brings back Kelly Marie Tran to play Rose Tico, and Billy Dee Williams to play Lando Calrissian. But the real treat is Anthony Daniels returning to play C-3PO, making him the only actor to feature in both Holiday Specials.
The voice acting across the board is stellar, with actors from The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels reprising their roles. Sadly, there is no Bea Arthur-level of celebrity cameos, and that’s fine. LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is so balanced with humor and heart that it doesn’t need a non-Star Wars celebrity as a distraction.
LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is the perfect apology for what happened 42 years ago, and creates a near-perfect Star Wars family film that can be enjoyed by fans of all ages. Whole families will enjoy the themes. Coming almost a year after one of the worst chapters in Star Wars history, this is such a bright spot that I cannot recommend enough.
LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is available on November 17 exclusively on Disney Plus. All Images courtesy of Disney and Lucasfilm.