The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special relies on you, the viewer, giving a shit about Rey, Finn, Poe, Rose and the rest of the characters from Disney’s now-concluded sequel trilogy in the Skywalker Saga. I happen to give a shit. Kids must. Maybe adults don’t. I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t want to know. I just need you to know that if you don’t, it will probably be a barrier of entry to this, a LEGO special for kids built off the nostalgia for a time when we could still look forward to new Star Wars movies. Or look forward to any movies. Not much is happening these days on that front. Happy holidays.
Anyway, the original Star Wars Holiday Special (which our friend Josiah covered for Our Star Wars last year) is legendary kitsch at this point. Undeniably terrible — though not quite as awful as the Donny & Marie Osmond special from around the same time — but unforgettable, too. The new LEGO Holiday Special is not terrible and is, in fact, quite emotional and very good, particularly if you found yourself falling in love with the new generation of characters from The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker.
Some time after the events of Skywalker, Rey finds herself frustrated while training Finn in the ways of the Force. She leaves her friends on Life Day Eve to visit a Jedi temple and use a mysterious artifact that allows her to travel through time to see how other Jedi masters trained their pupils, which lets her witness different events from the other movies. It’s all done with tongue in cheek but also a lot of love, particularly when Emperor Palpatine circa Return of the Jedi gets his hands on the artifact and sets out to see how everything ended up for him 30 years later. Mamma mia!
If “Rey is a Jedi training Finn” sounds like where The Rise of Skywalker should’ve started … well, yeah. Pretty much.
Still, if you can get past the stylings of LEGO animation (now over a decade into its run of shorts, incredible video games and animated films in the Star Wars universe), there’s just so much to like here. References to the other movies and the classic Holiday Special are grounded by Rey’s story, which feels appropriate to her character and to the Star Wars mythos. (Did you wish Kylo met Darth Vader and called him Grandpa Vader? I always did. That was an under-developed relationship, too.)
Anyway, there are no new big-ticket blockbusters of note coming out until mid-2021. The holidays are likely to be dark, oppressive and depressing. Even The Mandalorian will be over just before Christmas, leaving us without any cheery content around that time. The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is perfectly timed, and made me realize how much I missed looking forward to seeing this gang of characters. I hope they can continue to return in some form, even just LEGO.