I normally try to keep this site on brand and avoid veering off-topic but the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special does have a scene that’s at least partially inspired by Attack of the Clones and AOTC Obi-Wan is among its sizable cast of characters so… whatever. The holiday season is almost upon us and this Disney+ exclusive was just what I needed to lift my spirits this month. And you should watch it too. Here’s why!
It’s been 42 years since the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special was released, a TV special so cringe-inducing that George Lucas himself tried to bury it in the deepest sarlacc pit he could find, but to little effect — the special went on to become a cult classic among diehard fans of the franchise, bootlegged and shared within friend groups for decades. With the Skywalker saga done and dusted and no new films on the horizon until at least December 2023, LEGO Group, Lucasfilm, and Atomic Cartoons teamed up to try and fill that Star Wars-shaped hole in our calendars. And they’ve succeeded with this 47-minute special that not only captures the holiday spirit of its notorious predecessor but gives us a healthy dollop of the whimsical, tongue-in-cheek humour we’ve come to associate with the LEGO Star Wars brand.
The premise: “Set after the events of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Rey leaves her friends to prepare for Life Day as she embarks on a new adventure with BB-8 to gain a deeper knowledge of the Force. At a mysterious Jedi temple, Rey finds herself hurled into a cross-timeline adventure through beloved moments in Star Wars cinematic history, coming into contact with Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi and other iconic heroes and villains from all nine Skywalker saga films. But will she make it back in time for the Life Day feast and learn the true meaning of holiday spirit?” (Source)
Without giving too much away, the holiday special is jam-packed with meta humour, nods to the Skywalker saga and other Star Wars properties, playful jabs at some of the franchise’s more “controversial” scenes, and even what appears to be an homage to a scene from a Robot Chicken Star Wars special. There are chuckles aplenty to be had and, as always, Emperor Palpatine (voiced by Trevor Devall) manages to steal the show with his petty buffoonery as he concocts deliciously fiendish schemes and attempts to pit grandson against grandfather. If Devall’s take on Palpatine has whet your appetite for more, you should check out the woefully underappreciated LEGO Star Wars animation series, The Freemaker Adventures. Both seasons are available for streaming on Disney+ and, trust me, the series is delightful, full of heart, and absolutely worth your time.
The special is not without its issues. For one, there was a glaring absence of female characters in the time travel scenes. Leia makes a brief (albeit non-speaking) appearance amid a pile of characters dumped unceremoniously on the desert sands of Tatooine but there was no sign of the prequel trilogy’s leading lady, Padmé Amidala, though she does get a namedrop in what is easily my favourite scene from the entire special. Even more surprisingly, they didn’t include fan favourite Ahsoka Tano in the master-apprentice line-up. An odd decision given the special’s target demographic. The scenes set in the sequel era are a little more balanced but even then, it’s worth noting that Rose Tico was reported to be playing a prominent role in the Life Day story. This was not the case, sadly, though kudos to Kelly Marie Tran for reprising the role, especially after years of online harassment and a streamlined role in Rise of Skywalker.
My only other complaint is a highly personal one: I would have loved to have seen more prequel era content in the special and wish that Rey’s time-travelling adventures had been its own special. As much as I enjoyed the Life Day party scenes, part of me wishes we could have spent more time galloping through the saga. The special was heavily skewed towards the sequel trilogy – unsurprising, given its premise – and the original trilogy. But the prequel era content we did get was pure gold and if anyone needs another dose of festive cheer from our prequel boys, there’s always the “All I Want For Life Day” short that debuted in early November.
In short, the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is a 47-minute wholesome romp through that faraway galaxy that can be enjoyed by Star Wars fans of all ages. It’s the perfect antidote to what has been a very gruelling year for many of us and a timely reminder of the true value of friendship and kinship in these dark times.
Just leave your concerns about canon at the door and make this festive mashup part of your Christmas celebrations this year!
The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is now streaming on Disney+.
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