It’s hard to discern which of George Lucas’ “Star Wars” creations is the most mocked, the prequel trilogy, or the infamous holiday special.
That much ridiculed 1978 affair featured arguably career-worst performances from lead actors Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, and was set on the wooded Wookiee planet of Kashyyk where Chewbacca and his family (Itchy, Malla and Lumpy, I kid you not) were celebrating the yearly festival known as Life Day.
After some loving references from Jon Favreau in “The Mandalorian” and some not-so-warm recollections from Hamill (who recently tweeted, “That debate was the worst thing I’ve ever seen & I was in ‘The Star Wars Holiday Special’” in reference to the first sparring session between Donald Trump and Joe Biden), viewers are being treated once again to a Life Day holiday extravaganza. Only this time, any petrified acting can be attributed to the fact every character is made of Lego.
Launching Nov. 17 on Disney Plus, the “Lego Star Wars Holiday Special” is set after the events of “The Rise of Skywalker,” when the First Order is no more and peace has been brought to the galaxy just in time for Thanksgiving-mas, sorry, Life Day.
But while Poe is fussing over the festivities, busting his Lego gut to make it the best Life Day ever for Chewie and his furry family, Rey is threatening to spoil the fun by embarking on a mission to a Jedi temple. There, she hopes to find a key to “Star Wars” galaxies past, which could unlock her and Finn’s futures.
Sure enough, she finds a magical stone which transports her through what is essentially a “Star Wars” greatest hits compilation, landing in Luke Skywalker’s lap right as he blows up the Death Star, then in an elevator with Obi-Wan and Anakin Skywalker on their way to the Jedi council.
However, as tends to be the cast in “Star Wars,” the Dark side is never far away, and Rey’s clumsy time-traveling alerts Darth Sidious and Darth Vader to her newfound power. Cue a pacey, multi-dimensional fight between Rey and Vader which has to rank high on the list of lightsaber duals in terms of sheer scope (albeit in Lego form).
This Lego-ified version of “Star Wars” events strikes a similarly cheeky tone to “The Lego Movie” franchise, leaving plenty of room for the kind of self-deprecation and witty one-liners that could have made the Skywalker saga in particular a little less of a slog.
Expect plenty of good-natured jabs at iconic “Star Wars” lines, characters, and the convoluted and often incestuous nature of the films’ plot.
Anyone who has played the “Lego Star Wars” video games or watched the myriad smaller series and specials iterations (most of which aired on Cartoon Network or Disney XD) will be familiar with visual gags like Rey detaching her hair piece to avoid one of Finn’s errant lightsaber swings. There’s even a Baby Yoda appearance as short as the tot itself.
However, parsing through the light-hearted holiday frolicking, one can’t help but feel like the special makes somewhat poor use of Finn, Poe and Rose Tico (the latter is voiced by Kelly Marie Tran, whereas the others are played by a batch of animated “Star Wars” voice over veterans) all of whom are left with the underwhelming tasks of decorating the Millennium Falcon for Life Day and making sure the Tip-Yip doesn’t burn.
At the end of the (Life) day, “The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special” is a fun, self-contained adventure which feels a few bricks short of a full “Star Wars” load. It will keep the lockdown blues at bay for 40 minutes, but it certainly won’t cure fans’ nagging uncertainty over when the next title scrawl will be marching down the big screen.