When I recently spoke with Anthony Daniels, the “Star Wars” legend who has played C-3PO for almost fifty years, I let two bad words escape my mouth. “You said the two horror words in the English language: ‘holiday special,’” he said with a laugh. “It remains one of the most shocking, undignified pieces of non-entertainment. Something so abusive of the basic premise of ‘Star Wars.’”
To be clear, he was talking about “The Star Wars Holiday Special,” not the new “The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special,” a new animated movie now playing on Disney+, but his reaction speaks to the legend of the 1978 Christmas show. It’s been called “the worst two hours of television ever.” It’s so cringy Nathan Rabin wrote, “I’m not convinced the special wasn’t ultimately written and directed by a sentient bag of cocaine.”
Against that intergalactically awful backdrop comes a new special that shares nothing with the original save for the “Star Wars” DNA and the celebration of Life Day.
Chronologically placed after the events of “Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker,” as the film begins ‘twas the night before Life Day, in a galaxy far, far away. Jedi Rey and roly-poly robot BB-8 are on a journey to Kashyyyk, the tropical, forested Wookiee home world in a quest for a deeper understanding of the Force.
Back at the Millennium Falcon preparations are underway for the Wookiee festival of Life Day celebrations as Rey is diverted, thrown off course by a key that unlocks the galaxy’s past. Travelling across space and time, she goes on an intergalactic adventure that puts her in contact with many of “Star Wars’” most beloved and villainous characters.
Question is, will she make it home to celebrate the most important day on the Wookiee calendar with her pals?
If you are going to riff off one of the silliest shows of all time, you should be at least sorta silly. The bland humour of “The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special” doesn’t compare in any way to the inventive, anarchic spirit or the frenetic storytelling of the big-screen LEGO movies. Those movies break the rules, whereas “The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special” feels tame, afraid to take chances in the melding of two beloved franchises. It often seems like an excuse to take threadbare holiday themes of the importance of family and finding the true spirit of the season and moulding them around familiar characters.
The good news is “The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special” is a step up from “The Star Wars Holiday Special.” But, then again, almost everything is. See the above comment from Anthony Daniels. Other than some silly Dark Side moments, it feels like a franchise unwilling to really let go and have some fun. It needs a touch more “What Can You Get A Wookie For Christmas (When He Already Owns A Comb?)” and touch less of playing it safe.