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Disney+ Review: The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special

November 17, 2020

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

Disney pays tribute to the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special in the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special, which is premiering on Disney Plus today.

The original TV special, which aired in 1978 between the releases of the first Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back, was so widely panned that George Lucas never wanted it to see the light of day again. But it’s safe to say that the Star Wars Holiday Special has still achieved cult status over the years with hardcore fans of the series.

While never officially released, bootleg copies of it have long been floating around amongst fans, and have made their way to the internet. The special found Chewbacca returning to his home planet to celebrate Life Day with his family, and the fictional Wookie holiday provides the basis for this new animated special as well.

The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special opens with Poe (Jake Green) making preparations for Life Day, as Rey (Helen Sadler) tries unsuccessfully to train Finn (Omar Miller) in the ways of the Jedi. Determined to become a better teacher, Rey stumbles upon a magical crystal that opens up portals and lets her visit different points in time. Rey’s time-hopping adventures make up the brunt of the special’s slapdash plot, with the crystal serving as a plot device that allows her to drop in on various characters and moments from throughout the series.

This includes everything from going back and watching Master Yoda (Tom Kane) train a young Luke Skywalker (Eric Bauza), to getting caught up with comedic versions of Darth Vader (Matt Sloan), Emperor Palpatine (Trevor Devall) and Kylo Ren (Matthew Wood), who all jostle for attention. This results in a steady stream of callbacks to all three trilogies (Original, Prequel and Sequel), as classic scenes get reimagined in brick form.

The special plays out with a jokey tone that lampoons various moments from the franchise and never takes itself too seriously. The animation itself is decent but unremarkable, and aside from returning cast members Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams and Kelly Marie Tran (who reprise their roles as C-3PO, Lando Calrissian and Rose Tico), the voice cast is made up of impersonators who never quite sound like the characters they are playing. The 45 minute special is also somewhat poorly paced, with a madcap tone that offers no real breathing room.

While it’s too scattered and inconsistent to leave much of a mark, the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special still offers a handful of amusing moments and references sprinkled throughout. There are also some cute antics with the Porgs, and even a Baby Yoda cameo. It’s fine enough for what it is, especially for younger viewers, but it won’t go down as a classic or gain the cult following of its predecessor.

The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is now available to stream exclusively on Disney+.

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