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LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special - Spoiler-free review

Nathan Strum

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Yes, there's a new Star Wars Holiday Special. The most infamous piece of Star Wars lore returns to Disney+, but this time in LEGO form (and yes... LEGO is supposed to be all caps).

 

If you're unaware of the first Star Wars Holiday Special... well, I just don't know how to describe it. It's unbelievable in its awfulness. Imagine some weird, unfunny mash-up of the worst 70's variety show you've ever seen, featuring has-been TV comedians doing painfully unfunny "comedy" sketches, a couple of trippy musical numbers, a cartoon, and mortifyingly embarrassing cameos by the Star Wars cast (with Carrie Fisher singing) and... well, you're not even scratching the surface. This is the train wreck of train wrecks. This is the train wreck that other train wrecks slow down to look at in astonishment, then quickly turn away from because it's so bad.

 

I watched this as a kid when it first aired. It was the first new Star Wars anything after the original movie, while we were all eagerly waiting for what seemed like an eternity for The Empire Strikes Back. There was no home video. No cable. No way to see Star Wars since it had left the theaters. So of course anticipation for the special was high. But in the end, it was a train wreck. It was a train wreck, inside of a train wreck, that was happening on top of another train wreck. It didn't matter that it was Star Wars. Or that I was a kid at the time. I knew awful when I saw it.

 

The cartoon was okay though. Weird looking animation, but still, it was kind of cool. Maybe because it was the only part that wasn't irredeemably awful. It also introduced Boba Fett who didn't once fall into a pit. So good for him! Yay, Boba!

 

But the rest of that mess was genuinely unwatchable. Time for an anecdote!

 

Some years back, I got a bootleg copy of the special on DVD from a sketchy internet site (before it was readily available on YouTube). For our Christmas/Holiday Party at the college where I work, we hosted a screening of it on the big projection system in one of our multipurpose rooms. We have a lot of Star Wars nerds there, and the screening started out with a pretty good crowd, since few had ever seen it.

 

Well, that didn't last too long. The further we got into it, the more people left. Finally, near the end of it, we were down to maybe three or four people, most of whom were asleep on the floor by that point. One of them walked towards the door and we told him, "Don't leave yet - Carrie Fisher is about to sing!" We kidded him about not being a hardcore fan, at which point he rolled up his sleeves to show an Imperial tattoo on one arm, and a Rebel tattoo on the other, and then he said, "I'm a huge Star Wars fan... but I just can't take it anymore!" and left.

 

What I'm getting at here, is if you've never seen it, don't. It's just not worth the two hours* of your life you'll never get back.

 

George Lucas disavowed the Holiday Special. Rumor had it that he was actively trying to track down and destroy every copy of it. It has never, and will never be officially released.

 

Yet now - there's a new one. A LEGO one.

 

But it's not terrible. In fact, apart from the name and it centering around Life Day, it has basically nothing to do with the original. Rather, it's very much in keeping with the cute, irreverent, humorous tone the LEGO Star Wars games (and TV specials) have always had. It even manages to poke more than a little much-needed fun at the sequel trilogy.

 

It's all pretty silly, and the personalities of the Emperor and Darth Vader are almost straight out of Robot Chicken. There's an attempt in there to have a heartfelt story of sorts, but c'mon... it's LEGO + Star Wars + Holiday Special. That should tell you how much time they actually dwell on anything resembling a plot.

 

Some of the cast members from the movies and The Clone Wars series reprise their roles**. Those that don't are voiced by exceptionally good mimics. There are a lot of "blink and you'll miss it" in-jokes, and more than a few that are completely ham-fisted. But hey... holidays and ham go together! I got a few genuine laugh-out-loud moments out of it, including the very final shot which, frankly, made the whole thing worth watching (especially if you're a fan of holiday classics).

 

At less-than-half of the run time of the original Holiday Special, the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is just long enough to be entertaining without wearing out its welcome. Pop some popcorn, grab some egg nog***, and curl up in front of the TV. There are worse things to spend 44 minutes watching.

 

The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special gets a 6/10.

 

(*With commercials.)

(**If you're interested, here's an article on the making of the special.)

(***Mix egg nog 50/50 with 7-Up. Makes for a great holiday punch. Watch out for the foam.)

 

Edit: This gives an overview of the original Holiday Special, but still doesn't fully convey how bad it is:

 

 



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I watched it.  My feelings are much the same as yours.  As long as you don't take it seriously and view it as a spoof of Star Wars, it has a few laughs.

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