The Star Wars Holiday Special strikes back!
No wait! DON’T GO AWAY! That look of abhorrence I imagine on your face right now may likely be from the thought of THE Star Wars Holiday Special.
No, not the one that Star Wars creator George Lucas concocted and aired on CBS in 1978.
Not the one that had Carrie Fisher reportedly showed up to the set and singing while intoxicated. Not the one that featured Chewie’s father donning a VR helmet … with umm…. how I could only describe as a version of basic cable friendly Wookiee adult content? Not the one with Jefferson Starship…. well, okay, actually their performance was kinda awesome.
Not the one Star Wars thing that can’t be found on Disney Plus, but for the morbidly curious, Google it! After all, nothing ever really dies on the Internet.
RATHER, we will focus on The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special, which began streaming last month.
Is it something worth building on or will it leave you screaming like you stepped on a solitary block while barefoot? Let’s talk about it!
Lego Star Wars picks up after the events of The Rise of Skywalker. The gang is back together! Rey is attempting to train Finn to become a Jedi (welp, that answers one question from the last movie) and, in a nod to the original holiday special, Poe is obsessed with Life Day, an annual holiday celebration on the Wookiee home planet of Kashyyk. And Rose is back in action, too!
Rey, amidst a crisis of confidence surrounding her abilities as a teacher, learns about ancient Jedi texts, which in turn points her to a Christmas tree shaped doo-hickey, which then opens up a portal and off she goes with BB-8 on an adventure through time and space!
What better way to learn how to become a Jedi mentor than to observe the masters? Yeah, just go with it.
The plot is silly, but gives a great excuse to revisit familiar beats and classic characters from all nine movies in the saga. Think Star Wars meets A Christmas Carol, with Yoda serving as – what else? – a ghost guide. Things get especially complicated when Darth Vader seeks the power of the doo-hickey and tumbles in after Rey.
The animation, by Atomic Cartoons, isn’t quite on par with the Lego movies, but still impresses in places. The vortex of the portal, in a nice touch, is made up of a swirl of glowing legos. The entire trench run of the Death Star is also lovingly recreated almost shot-for-shot.
As for the writing, it has that irreverential quality that the Lego movies are known for. As much as it comes across as a celebration of Star Wars, it also veers into the realm of self depreciation, almost making fun of itself. Jar-Jar as a senatorial villain? Check. Han shooting first? Check. The much memed topless Kylo Ren? CHECK! Heck, even the much maligned Maclunkey makes an appearance. It owes much to the Robot Chicken playbook, particularly with its over-the-top portrayal of Emperor Palpatine.
It also has at least 15 Easter eggs.
It’s colorful, fun, and acts as a sort of quasi-sequel to the sequel trilogy. Is it worth our time? Answer: IS “BABY YODA” THE CUTEST IN THE UNIVERSE?
There Is No Try?
Naturally, Rey learns important lessons about the power of friendship and what makes an effective mentor.
Rey – and all too often we – get this idea that leaders shouldn’t fail. BAD EXAMPLE…. right? Or not. While visiting the classic training sequence from Episode V, she sees that Yoda has different ideas!
LEGO Yoda: Do or do not, there is no try. LEGO Luke: Isn't trying a good thing? LEGO Yoda: Participation trophies for Jedi, there are not.
Rey presses him. C’mon, be serious!
LEGO Yoda: From failure we can learn. Learn to be a better student or better teacher.
HOMEWORK! Watch the Star Wars movies again (or for the first time!) and note how often our heroes fail. How do they respond? How does it contribute to lessons learned in their overall arc? You will find it is a common theme, particularly in the prequel trilogy, which operates as a Greek tragedy of sorts.
Does Rey take these lessons and apply them to become a better teacher? Will she return in time to help Poe’s Life Day dreams become realized? Answer: DID HAN’S “HUNK OF JUNK” MAKE THE KESSELL RUN IN LESS THAN TWELVE PARSECS?
Self Depreciation. It’s a Trap?
Does this television special celebrate Star Wars? Poke fun at its source material? I would argue both. The approach on the latter works. At the heart of the franchise is space opera escapism. Let’s not take it too seriously, okay?
Applied on a level of self care, is the ability to laugh at yourself healthy? Or, as Admiral Ackbar exclaimed most famously in Episode VI, “IT’S A TRAP!”?
Research suggests that a self depreciating sense of humor is a tangle sign of self awareness. Those that can admit to their failures or shortcomings are generally experienced as more approachable. Self awareness is vital to knowing when to ask for help or surround ourselves with others who make up for our shortcomings.
Perfectionism can make us strive for new heights. But it can also hold us back. This may be weird to say, but there is value to be found in celebrating our imperfections!
Be careful. Too much self depreciation can backfire. People may actually believe us. Even worse, we may start believing it ourselves! Self appreciation is just as, if not more, important.
- Embrace failure as a teacher. Watch the Star Wars movies (as if we ever need an excuse?) and view them through this lens.
- Learn the fine art of self depreciating humor and celebrating your imperfections.
- Don’t take laughing at yourself too far. You may start believing it.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy Life Day! MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU.
Where to Watch
The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special is currently streaming on Disney Plus.
Director: Ken Cunningham
Screenwriter: David Shayne
Voice cast: Helen Sadler, Omar Miller, Jake Green, Kelly Marie Tran, Trevor Devall, Matt Sloan
Rated: TV Y-7
Scott is a movie lover who brings over 20 years experience in mental health, journalism and vocational ministry. He has a Masters of Divinity degree, which is not nearly as amazing sounding as Masters of the Universe, but it is what it is. It is here at Movies That Move Us where his powers combine! It is not uncommon to find him pretending to open automatic doors using The Force.