Lego Star Wars Holiday Special (2020)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 11/27/20
Cast: Helen Sadler, Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams, Kelly Marie Tran

"We've seen my master, my master's master, my master's father, and my master's father's master!"

Taking place after "The Rise Of Skywalker" (2019), with The First Order defeated, the galaxy can get back to celebrating the Wookiee tradition of Life Day. Rey (Helen Sadler), Finn, Poe, Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), and Chewbacca take the Millennium Falcon to Kashyyyk to meet up with Chewie's family: Molla, Itchy, and Lumpy. Rey is trying to train Finn to become a Jedi, but things aren't going well, so she and BB-8 ditch the party in order to search for a magical relic that Rey thinks will help her become a better teacher. The relic allows her to travel through time, where she encounters Luke, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, Qui-Gon Jinn, Kylo Ren, and Emperor Palpatine. Naturally, she makes a mess of history and Palpatine wants the relic for his own nefarious purposes.

If you weren't old enough to see "Star Wars" during its initial theatrical run, then you probably never saw the abomination known as "The Star Wars Holiday Special" that aired on CBS in 1978. It holds the distinct honor of "The Worst Two Hours of Television, Ever." George Lucas disavows any connection to the production and went through considerable effort to make sure it would never be broadcast again. Today it exists only in the memories of middle-aged fans and the bootleg market, where it still causes Lucas nightmares. Given its reputation and how truly awful it is, I'm shocked that Disney had the gall to even acknowledge its existence, let alone reference it. So how incredibly strange and wonderful it is to see it resurrected and revisited by the "Lego Star Wars" franchise! Not only does it poke fun at the original holiday special, but it also manages to reference EVERY movie in the series, PLUS "The Mandalorian," and even Galaxy's Edge! Given its short 45-minute run time, that's a lot of gags, references, and in-jokes to cram into the show, and most of them happen in the increasingly outrageous second half. The first half is a bit dry and cringe-worthy, but it rapidly spins out of control after Rey runs into Darth Vader. At that point, just forget about the story and hang on for the ride. The writing is clever and the nostalgic rapid fire humor almost always hits its mark. The voice acting is a mixed bag and I was consciously aware of it throughout. Only Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams, and Kelly Marie Tran show up from the original films, while the rest of the cast was culled from the various animated series. The animation is superb, and several key scenes from the original films are perfectly recreated. The only real issue I had was with the premise of Rey trying to teach Finn the ways of The Force. Something about that really rubbed me the wrong way, but I can't pinpoint why. But apart from that, the "Lego Star Wars Holiday Special" is a fun time for "Star Wars" fans of all ages, and a nice reminder that Life Day is for coming to together and celebrating friends and family from every corner of the galaxy.