The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special review: A sweet, self-aware special

LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special. Image Courtesy Disney+, Lucasfilm
LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special. Image Courtesy Disney+, Lucasfilm /

The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special is a charming, self-deprecating, time-traveling romp across the galaxy that pays homage to trilogies old and new. 

More than 40 years after the original Star Wars Holiday Special made its… memorable television debut, Lucasfilms is once again trying its hand at creating holiday magic via Star Wars, but this time with a much more self-aware spin. With the animation style and screwball comedy that’s made Lego Star Wars video games so well-loved over the past decade, The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special is a sweet little self-deprecating romp around the galaxy that pays homage to trilogies both old and new.

The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, which dropped on Disney+ this week, sees Rey, Finn, Poe, Rose, Chewie, and the rest of the sequel trilogy gang unite to celebrate life day with Chewbacca’s family on Kashyyyk. Things don’t quite go according to plan, though, and as Finn and Rose attempt to help Poe throw the perfect life day celebration, Rey takes BB-8 on a time-traveling adventure thanks to the help of a magic “key” that shows her Jedi-apprentice duos of past and present.

Immediately, the most noticeable aspect of The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special is its jumbled-up voice cast. Some actors reprise their live-action roles – such as Kelly Marie Tran as Rose and Billy Dee Williams as Lando. Other key characters, however, are played by different voice actors from their film counterparts, and the result is – disconcerting, to say the least. Some of the voice actors, like Helen Sadler as Rey, are spot on – Sadler sounds more like Daisy Ridley than Daisy Ridler herself. Others, though, are not as successful – it’s painfully obvious that Finn and Poe aren’t, in fact, voiced by John Boyega or Oscar Isaac.

However, once your ears have adjusted to some characters sounding like themselves and others sound like, well, actors doing impressions of those characters, you can settle in for what is (unsurprisingly, in our opinion) a very sweet and silly 45 minutes worth of Star Wars fun. As we mentioned earlier, we’re longtime fans of the Lego Star Wars video games, which have a unique animation style and sense of humor that make the games’ cutscenes feel almost like silent comedy films. Of course, the Lego Star Wars Holiday Special has dialogue, so the special feels a little bit more like an episode of Ninjago as opposed to one long Lego Star Wars scene.

As such, the humor is a little more juvenile and over-the-top as opposed to the timeless jokes of the video games, but that’s to be expected – this is, after all, a holiday special aimed at kids. Still, though, there are a few great moments of self-awareness and humor mocking the franchise itself, which older fans will undoubtedly appreciate.

The narrative itself is split in two. Most of the goofier stuff revolves around Finn, Poe, and Rose trying to rescue a Life Day party, while the plot-heavier side has Rey and BB-8 time-jumping a-la Avengers: Endgame.

Despite how much we love Finn, Poe, and Rose, their “b” plot didn’t really do much for us – nothing was particularly funny, nor did it feel important when Rey was traveling through time and fighting Darth Vader. Speaking of Rey, though, her side of the story was jam-packed with Star Wars in-jokes, references, and nostalgia – everything from a Disney World “Batuu” reference to three different Obi-Wans telling each other “hello there.”

Giving Rey a magic space crystal that lets her travel through time was a clever plot device to allow for our favorite Jedi duos to pop up – Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan and Anakin,  and Luke and Yoda, as well as a cameo appearance from the Mandalorian himself Din Djarin and his adorable child. Against them all are Kylo Ren, Darth Vader, and Emperor Palpatine, whose plot is our least favorite of the special. The villain parts just aren’t funny, nor are they characters that we want to spend time with when we could be hanging with  Obi-Wan and Anakin.

The special spends a little too much time on Kylo, Vader, and Palpatine to justify the lack of payoff at the end of the special, which circles back around to link the Rey plot with the Finn/Poe plot. Still, though, even with the lackluster villain’s plot, The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special is still legions better than the original Star Wars Holiday Special – in the sense that it’s a genuinely watchable piece of television as opposed to a cringe-fest you only revisit to poke fun at.

After a tumultuous sequel trilogy, The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special feels like a return to the Star Wars universe we know and love – it’s a piece of Star Wars media that you can sit back and watch without dissecting character beats or searching for plot holes. Full of well-loved characters, Lego’s signature brand of screwball comedy, and a sweet holiday sentiment at its center, The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special is a delightful escape for any Star Wars loving-family.

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Have you seen the Lego Star Wars Holiday Special? Who’s your favorite Star Wars character? Sound off in the comments below.