Long, long ago in 1978, CBS released a TV special based on the hit movie Star Wars. This special was simply known as The Star Wars Holiday Special, and it has been torn apart and ridiculed by fans, critics, and even George Lucas for decades. It’s become a staple of bad movie nights everywhere. The folks over at Disney+ clearly want to bury any remnants of that holiday special by replacing it with the new LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special, which is animated with LEGO figures and blocks similar to The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Batman Movie and is now available on the popular streaming service. Is it a good enough holiday special to make us forget about the Life Day disaster of the past, or does it hurt more than stepping on a LEGO? Let’s journey into this latest installment in the ever-expanding Star Wars universe to find out.
Animated LEGO properties, like LEGO Ninjago or The Lego Batman Movie, are known for their outstanding humor, and The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is no different. This special is filled with witty jokes and clever parody. Whether you’re a massive Star Wars fan or not, there’s a ton worth laughing at throughout the story, whether it’s sarcasm, slapstick, or shattering the fourth wall. It’s an entertaining reminder that perhaps Star Wars shouldn’t be taken as seriously as some people on the Internet may think and to have fun with it.
The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special also continues the story from where The Rise of Skywalker left off. It’s genuinely nice to see what’s next for Rey, Fin, Poe, Rose, and the rest after taking down the First Order. It even confirms one of the details left open, being what Fin wanted to tell Rey throughout the entirety of The Rise of Skywalker. This leads to the excitement of Rey taking over the mentor role and training Fin in the ways of the force while also seeing the other characters interact when they’re not constantly stressed about getting out of danger.
The delightful LEGO animation may not be as great as it is in the theatrically released LEGO films, but it’s as good as other straight-to-home-video LEGO animations. One would think a movie animated with LEGO designs wouldn’t work, but as it’s been proven several times now, it actually works surprisingly well. The LEGO animation leads to some humorous moments on its own, like characters disconnecting their hair or legs for some hilarious visual comedy.
The voice acting is top notch for a short, straight-to-streaming special. Actors from the Star Wars movies, such as Anthony Daniels, Kelly Marie Tran, Billy Dee Williams, and more reprise their roles as their beloved characters. It’s nice to hear their familiar voices once again in the Star Wars universe. The rest of the cast who aren’t Star Wars veterans also give outstanding performances. They definitely sound enough like the actors who originally portrayed the characters while also conveying emotion and providing big laughs.
This animated special recaptures many of the themes seen throughout the Star Wars saga. They primarily drive home the idea of characters being true friends and not just mentors and students, and that’s what makes their bond and dynamic so strong. This sense of friendship fits perfectly within the themes of peace we’re familiar with from each of the live action movies. This also helps with providing a genuinely feel-good story to watch during the holiday season.
One of the most exciting elements in the special is the action. There are intense lightsaber battles, blasters being fired, and ships zooming through space. It’s almost as epic as the action in the live action films. The best part of the action, though, is who is fighting. By using time travel, they’re able to pull off fights that feel like one big Star Wars crossover. There are battles between Rey and Darth Vader, Kylo Ren and young Luke Skywalker, and even Darth Vader and Darth Vader. One of the largest battles feels close to the finale of Avengers: Endgame, where we see multiple Han Solos shooting Greedo first, the upper half of Darth Maul still using his lightsaber, and various generations of storm troopers and rebel fighters. It’s the perfect amount of fan service.
The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special celebrates everything that is Star Wars. There are countless references throughout this story and some playful poking fun at the live action films. This was clearly written by people who love Star Wars very much. We get to experience pod racers flying alongside Star Destroyers and Chewbacca’s family from the original Star Wars Holiday Special. It’s all one big showcase of how much fun Star Wars has always been.
The pacing of the TV special moves so fast that some things are glossed over at times. This is especially unfortunate when something extremely cool is set up, like the multi-generational war scene, and we don’t get to see much of it. This is also the case for many of the characters. Sure, it’s cool that the original actors for Lando and C-3PO returned, but they don’t get many lines or much screen time. Some characters don’t get any lines at all. There are several fun fights that end too soon, and the story rarely takes the time to stay in any certain moment to have fun with it. It feels rushed when it could have been something truly epic if there was a longer runtime that could have provided enough room for everything.
At times, the story gets too caught up with the Star Wars adventure that it forgets to also be a holiday special. There are reminders of a Life Day celebration scattered throughout, but after things like a Darth Vader vs. Darth Vader lightsaber duel, it feels close to being out of place. That’s just a minor nitpick, though, as the special ultimately does what it needs to do.
There’s a lot of time travel seen throughout the story, which is fine and they find a way to make that work within the world of Star Wars, but it does potentially create one major problem. Rey, BB-8, and Darth Vader aren’t exactly sneaky with this time travel stuff. When Obi Wan Kinobe or Han Solo come across them, or past or future versions of people who they know, wouldn’t there be more of an impact? For one, they don’t have much of a reaction to it. These characters also apparently don’t remember any of this happening afterward, and there is no paradox potentially tearing apart the universe. How could Obi Wan Kinobe time travel and not remember it, or how could Darth Sideous see the future and not use it to his advantage?
It makes sense for the next step in the Star Wars story to include Rey training Fin, and for them to still be traveling with Poe, Rose, and Chewbacca. However, given the time travel and whether or not characters remember it happening or events being altered, it’s unclear how much of this is canon, if at all. It’s not an issue if it’s not, but the clarity of how much is canon is slightly problematic, especially since some of it does work as the next chapter in Rey and Fin’s story.
In the Know
As stated, there is the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special from 1978 that many have on their mandatory holiday viewing list each year. The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special may also celebrate Life Day on Kashyyyk and feature Malla, Lumpy, and Itchy, but it’s not an exact follow up to the original. The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special both makes up for, and pays homage to the old bad movie night classic.
The special is narrated by Yoda (because of course it is), and when we finally see our all-knowing narrator at the very end, he’s dressed identically to none other than Sam the Snowman. Sam the Snowman is famous for being the beloved narrator of the Christmas stop-motion classic, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It’s a nice way to tie it in with the “holiday special” theme.
The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special may be a little too rapidly paced to give enough time to all the characters or cool moments, but it’s hilarious, touching, action-packed, and celebrates one of the greatest movie franchises of all time. It may not be on many people’s mandatory holiday viewing lists each year, but it is an extremely fun adventure for those who love Star Wars. It’s a cute and exciting TV short, so the flaws it does have are pretty harmless. If you’re someone who enjoys Star Wars, LEGO, or both, there’s no reason not to give it a try.
Rating: 8 / 10