In the grand tradition of all two (2) Star Wars holiday specials, The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is not great. But unlike the original holiday special, which is unwatchable garbage, The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is at least a coherent story. And, at only forty-five minutes long, it is blessedly short. These are the nicest things I can say about it: you will be able to follow the story, and it is under an hour long. Other than that, The LEGO Stars Wars Holiday Special is basically a Saturday morning cartoon meant for little kids, who will derive the most entertainment from the rapid-fire jokes and silly gags. Many of those gags, like Kylo Ren destroying a room with his lightsaber while a goon backs away slowly, are directly lifted from the movies, but I assume this is done because Star Wars is considered too grown up for very small children, so some jokes get repackaged for a young audience who haven’t already seen them in theaters. Otherwise, it’s just terribly lazy writing.
Like the first holiday special—which is so bad George Lucas disavows it—this holiday special takes place on “Life Day”, a generic family-centric holiday in the Star Wars universe. We find Rey, voiced here by Helen Sadler, training Finn to be a Jedi (it seems like we should have seen that in the movies, but whatever, spilt milk and all that). Rey is so immersed in her attempt to pass on the Jedi way that she is being a total buzzkill and ruining Poe’s attempts to put together a Life Day celebration for everyone. In fact, Rey is so over-committed to the bit that she abandons Finn and everyone else on Life Day in order to chase down some key mentioned in a Jedi text, proving that the Jedi way sucks and Rey should abandon it, once and for all. (Seriously can’t believe this didn’t happen in the movies, but whatever, SPILT MILK).
A handful of live-action Star Wars regulars return to voice their characters, such as Kelly Marie Tran, Billy Dee Williams, and Anthony Daniels—because OF COURSE C-3PO has to shove his gold ass in everywhere—but the rest of the cast is performed by voice actors, so while this does not feel like Star Wars, it also doesn’t sound like Star Wars. This is entirely in keeping with Star Wars holiday specials feeling like whacked-out alternate universe nightmares. Also in keeping with whacked-out alternate universe nightmares is the plot, which sees Rey jumping through various moments in various Star Wars movies, which is mostly an excuse to recreate those moments in the LEGO style. Fans should be super excited to see Rey help Luke destroy the Death Star in Star Wars—I’m sure absolutely no one will complain about that. Actually, the best thing about this holiday special is how much of it seems designed to piss off fanbros. As purely an instrument of torture for those who don’t like seeing Rey succeed, The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is an A+.
But as something you may actually want to watch, it’s a D-. If you have little kids who love Star Wars, they might get a kick out of it, for real. Kids are obviously the target audience here. But it is very hard for adults to let go of Star Wars and just let it be for kids, and adults who insist on watching this without absorbing the vicarious joy of children will suffer mightily because by any other metric other than “it’s for kids”, The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is terrible. (No, I am not a grinch for saying that because Life Day is not a real holiday and there’s nothing to ruin.) The LEGO special gets points for coherency, but otherwise it’s another blatant attempt to capitalize on Star Wars’ popularity just in time for the holiday season, and maybe goose toy sales of Rey’s yellow lightsaber.
The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is streaming now on Disney+.