Review: LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special Indulges Fans in its Time-Hopping, Festive Storyline

It’s not as strong or funny as the two LEGO movies and it only runs about 40 minutes, but for some reason The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is exactly what Star Wars fans need right now. Centering on the notorious Star Wars Holiday Special centerpiece “Life Day,” this short film brings the characters from the most recent trilogy into a story that finds ways to revisit, pay tribute, and even gently mock the entire Star Wars universe (there’s even a bit of “The Mandalorian” thrown in for good measure).

Lego Star Wars Holiday Special
Image courtesy of Disney+

As the galaxy far, far away prepares to celebrate the Life Day holiday, Rey (voiced by Helen Sadler) finds a reason and the mean to travel back and forth in time (along with her droid BB-8) on a quest to gain a deeper knowledge of the Force at a mysterious Jedi Temple. There, she discovers a key that opens up portals to anywhere in the Star Wars timeline. And every time she time jumps, she seems to bring a character or two with her until versions of many characters are cross-mingling and exchanging barbs that many fans have been thinking but haven’t dared to say on Twitter.

Working from a screenplay by David Shayne, director Ken Cunningham (who made his name recently helming a Nickelodeon series of LEGO Jurassic World shorts) pack a great deal into this small package. He even dares to get deep into a subplot involving the Emperor (Trevor Devall) attempting to avoid getting killed by Darth Vader (Matt Sloan), as he was in Return of the Jedi and changing the Star Wars timeline forever. Different-aged and -experienced Luke Skywalkers (Eric Bauza), Han Solos, and Obi-Wan Kenobis (James Arnold Taylor) are visited in Rey’s journey, who is guided to a certain degree by Yoda (Tom Kane). The film returns to classic moments in the history of the franchise and tweaks them for laughs, succeeding most of the time (although I think jokes about Kylo Ren not wearing a shirt are played out).

The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special also finds ways to incorporate actual cast members from the franchise to play their original parts, including Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian, Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico, and Anthony Daniels as C3PO. And much like in The Rise of Skywalker, the film struggles to find anything for Finn or Poe Dameron to do beyond what would easily qualify as fan service. Still, the film lands many of its jokes, references and visual cues, and most importantly, pays tribute to the Star Wars Holiday Special, which is inarguably both terrible and a constant source of inspiration to many Star Wars fans.

The film is now streaming on Disney+.

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Steve Prokopy
Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet
Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for
Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and
filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a
frequent contributor at /Film ( and Backstory Magazine.
He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently
owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for
the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer
for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the
city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.

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