Plot: Rey leaves her friends to prepare for Life Day as she sets off on an adventure to gain a deeper knowledge of the Force. At a mysterious temple, she is hurled into a cross-timeline adventure. Will she make it back in time for Life Day?
Review: Since The Clone Wars premiered back on Cartoon Network, Lucasfilm has had a pretty solid run of animated offerings. Likewise, the various LEGO video games and series have taken a humorous but respectful approach to Star Wars canon. Melding those together with the legendary debacle that was the original Star Wars Holiday Special should have been a slam dunk. Instead, this forty-five-minute story tries to continue the Skywalker Saga after Episode IX while joking around with the eight films that came before it (yes, this special ignores SOLO and ROGUE ONE). The result is a mediocre offering that doesn’t live up to the quality we have come to expect from LEGO, STAR WARS, or for that matter LEGO STAR WARS. This is an animated special that misses the mark but should appeal to the youngest Lucasfilm fans.
While I highly doubt anyone is going to get into a tizzy about the plot of this special, it should be known that it chronologically follows THE RISE OF SKYWALKER. It opens after the fall of the First Order with Rey Skywalker trying to train Finn to be a Jedi. If I was John Boyega I would have been more than a little annoyed that his character’s destiny is relegated to this animated entry but that could also explain why he did not voice Finn. Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, and Adam Driver also do not return for this special while Kelly Marie Tran, Anthony Daniels, and Billy Dee Williams do reprise their franchise roles. Even the cast of The Clone Wars animated series came back. To say this cast is a mixed bag would be an understatement but also one that applies to this special entirely.
While the animation is as good as any LEGO film or video game, The Star Wars Holiday Special is mainly lacking the heart and humor that made previous collaborations so much fun. The main plot involves Rey not knowing how to properly train Finn and venturing to a Jedi temple where she discovers a way to travel through time to revisit Jedis from the past for guidance. This is primarily used as a way to get Rey into classic scenes from STAR WARS history while jumbling them up along the way. Over the course of the special, we see moments from each of the Skywalker Saga films and the animated series as Rey learns a powerful lesson for Life Day. All of this comes as we hear Yoda narrate the proceedings with an air of The Night Before Christmas.
If you have played any LEGO STAR WARS games, you know what you are in for, but when there is no gameplay involved, the special ends up feeling like a cutscene that is running way too long. It also lacks the biting humor that could have been injected, leaving this feeling like something that will only appeal to very young audiences. I wasn’t expecting this special to be on par with Family Guy or Robot Chicken in regards to the satire, but there is so much going on here and much of it lacks any sort of depth or stakes.
From Qui Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi to Darth Maul and Kylo Ren, we meet many characters on both sides of the Force as well as familiar faces like Han Solo, Greedo, and Jawas. Everything feels like it has been done before but now comes under the guise of learning the true meaning of Life Day. Clearly, as a Christmas-themed event, the lesson here is about family and those that are important to you and how you show them you care. It is not subtle in the least. What is also odd is that the recognizable actors who lent their voices are given very little to do while Rey, Finn, and Poe get most of the screen time and the bad jokes.
I wanted so badly to like The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special and there are absolutely some great moments here including the highlight being Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, and Kylo Ren debating the convoluted mythology of Star Wars canon. If this special had featured more moments like that, I would have been far more entertained. This special is not bad but it somehow feels twice as long as it is. Because it tries so hard, it feels forced (pun intended). As someone who loves everything STAR WARS, even I had trouble enjoying this special. Star Wars fans who want to spend their time hunting for easter eggs will have fun with this as will kids under the age of ten. Everyone else is probably better off streaming the 1978 special on YouTube this holiday season.
The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is now available on Disney+.