When selling your property for $4 billion, don’t call the new owners “white slavers”; otherwise, they’ll come back at you. Famously rejecting the existence of the 1978 “Star Wars Holiday Special,” George Lucas once told Mark Hamill in private,”‘If I could find every copy of that holiday special, I’d smash them with a hammer.” Well, Disney, along with Lego’s self-aware brand of humor, knew how to capitalize on George’s bitterness by keeping the memory of the original Holiday special very much alive with their improved watchable version.
2020’s Holiday Special is better than the 1978 version. But that’s a very, very, VERY, low bar to hurdle. All it had to do was not be agonizing, which, thankfully, it isn’t. Is it as funny as something like “Robot Chicken’s” parody of Star Wars? No. Is it funny overall? Mostly. There are some great jabs in the 47-minute program directly aimed at the prequels that got a genuine chuckle out of me. The rest is the usual Benny Hill-inspired fast-paced, cut to the punchline formula associated with cartoons. There are bits about Kylo Ren being shirtless, obsessing over his grandpa Vader, Luke drinking blue milk, and cute Baby Yoda. Speaking of Yoda, our little green friend serves as the narrator to this short special because of reasons. Honestly, it wasn’t charming. Still not as irritating as listening to Wookies screaming for twenty minutes straight with no subtitles.
What may be the strangest aspect of this Holiday Special is how it cared more about Rose and Fin than the sequel trilogy did. Rose isn’t just a side character that gets a simple pat on the back, and Fin trains as a Jedi under Rey’s guidance giving his character an actual arc. Caving to the insular fan base against Rose in “The Rise of Skywalker” is still a cowardly move towards an already abused Kelly Marie Tran. John Boyega is not wrong in his opposition to how black actors are treated in Hollywood, rendering him more of a resistance leader than his laughable fictional counterpart. Still, doing so with these characters in Lego form feels like a haphazard apology letter towards two talented people who were given the short end of the stick for no good reason.
Facing the reality that Star Wars is made for kids, despite some incredibly violent and political aspects placed in the prequels, 2020’s Holiday Special does the job for a parent to enjoy the world of Star Wars with their child. Everything ticks along at a steady enough pace, a majority of the jokes sufficiently land where it doesn’t feel like Rian Johnson is inserting his bathos, and I don’t want to tear my ears out of my head when everything wraps up. Much like how “The Force Awakens” had to clear a low hurdle before each subsequent film tripped over every diving poll, the “Lego Star Wars Holiday Special” is enjoyable, if not still feeling a bit rushed. But hey, it’s Disney; they need to meet their deadlines for their shareholders. For something like this, it’s do or do not, actually, good enough.
Side note: We would have never had gotten Boba Fett or “The Mandalorian” without the “Star Wars Holiday Special.”