The original Star Wars Holiday Special will forever live in infamy, but that didn’t stop Disney and Lego from creating their own version. The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, out on Disney Plus today, is at its best when it fully leans into the absurdities of Lego and the tongue-in-cheek Star Wars references.
With a select few voice talents reprising their roles from the movies (specifically Kelly Marie Tran as Rose, Billy Dee Williams as Lando, and Anthony Daniels as C-3PO) and some Star Wars: The Clone Wars voice actors returning to their characters (notably, James Arnold Taylor as Obi-Wan, Matt Lanter as Anakin, and Tom Kane as Yoda), the Lego Star Wars Holiday Special is a joyous celebration of decades of Star Wars. The 47-minute special drags a little in the middle, but when it focuses on hilarity and connection instead of yet another evil plan to foil, it offers a sweet look into the downtime of the Star Wars world.
Taking place after the events of Rise of Skywalker, the very non-canonical Lego Star Wars Holiday Special zeroes in on Rey, Finn, and the rest of their friends. After getting frustrated with training Finn, Rey decides to abandon her friends’ Life Day celebrations and try to unlock more Jedi secrets so she can be a better master to Finn. The rest of the gang — Poe (Jake Green), Chewbacca, and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) — are pretty bummed she’s bailing on them, but decide to go on throwing their party anyway, since Chewie’s family is coming to town. (That’s a little nod to the OG holiday special.) While they carry on festivities, Rey finds a mysterious key that allows her to travel through time and space — and thus the zany fun begins.
[Ed. note: This post contains light spoilers for the Lego Star Wars Holiday Special]
Using the key, Rey time-travels through days of Star Wars past, fangirling every time she comes across a Jedi master, whether it’s young Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon, older Obi-Wan and Anakin, or Luke and Yoda. It’s funny to see her and BB-8 dropping into random points in Star Wars history, and even more hilarious to see the various characters’ reactions. This only gets more chaotic when she runs into Vader and Palpatine, who chase after her — they interrupt a shoot-out in The Mandalorian (gotta squeeze Baby Yoda in here somewhere) and smash right into Anakin’s podracer, eventually accumulating a whole parade of Star Wars characters on their trail.
But the special doesn’t linger on the resulting battle. Instead, it splits up the characters — and the fun. Rey has to do some soul-searching about the true meaning of Life Day, while Palpatine and Vader travel to the future to meet Kylo Ren. While Lego Kylo Ren is deliciously self-aware (he walks around shirtless and has a poster collection of Darth Vader), it’s a little tiring to see yet another evil scheme in play, especially when the other characters are just happily carrying out their Life Day festivities.
The two plots don’t really cross over, and the Life Day festivities end up being more enjoyable than the bad guys grumbling about wanting to take over the galaxy again, simply because we don’t usually see much personal, behind-the-scenes downtime in Star Wars. It’s a rare slice-of-life moment in a galaxy far, far away — a breather between lightsaber battles and blaster shootouts, and a chance to make jokes about Lando’s favorite presents (capes, of course), the logistics of Life Day dining, and Chewie’s rambunctious family.
The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special does what Lego Star Wars does best: it revels in the absurdity of its Lego characters and its self-aware Star Wars jokes. Darth Vader says he went through every gift shop in Batuu (the setting of Disney’s Galaxy’s Edge Star Wars-themed lands) for Palpatine’s Life Day present. When Rey’s Lego hair gets wet, she removes it to shake out some of the water. The little details make the story.
Like most holiday-themed movies and TV specials, the Lego Star Wars Holiday Special ends with a heartwarming message about coming together for the holidays. That’s basically a given, but the theme does tie in nicely with Rey and Finn’s Jedi training plotline. While the message itself isn’t particularly memorable, the fun scenes with the Star Wars characters gathering around a roast tip-yip, exchanging presents, and playing in the snow make the special worthwhile. It’s not about the intergalactic power plays, the epic lightsaber showdowns, or the grandiose schemes, but instead about the friends — Jedi, Wookiee, droid, and everyone else — we made along the way.
The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special is available now on Disney Plus.