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Life Day is darn good fun in ‘The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special’

    By Anthony Herring On Nov. 17, 1978 — over one year after the original Star Wars film released — the CBS network aired a TV film called the Star Wars Holiday Special. Set after the events of A New Hope, the special follows Chewbacca and Han Solo, celebrating the holiday known as Life Day with Chewbacca’s family.  However, their celebration is interrupted by the evil Galactic Empire hunting them down, along with other members of the heroic Rebel Alliance, such as Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. The special ends with the Empire being defeated and the heroes celebrating Life Day in peace. While the main story focused on Life Day, the special also included oddly-placed sketches and animated segments — with one segment introducing the fan-favorite character Boba Fett — making the Star Wars Holiday Special a variety show. Despite the cheery and lighthearted tone that the special had, it was critically panned, with many considering it to be an utter failure. However, in the decades since its original airing, the Star Wars Holiday Special has gained a cult following within the Star Wars fan community. Many have watched the special themselves and are intrigued by what transpired within it. The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special acts as an homage to the original Holiday Special and was released on Nov. 17 on Disney+. Unlike the original special, this new one is told entirely in an animated format and is set after Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Thankfully, this version manages to pull off an entertaining and charming romp in a galaxy far, far away.

Canon to the right of them, canon to the left of them

Image from Disney+
The main plot of the special pertains to two central storylines. The first storyline revolves around Rey Skywalker, the Star Wars sequel trilogy protagonist, struggling to train her best friend — and fellow hero of the sequel trilogy — Finn as a Jedi. The second storyline focuses on the other sequel trilogy characters like Poe Dameron, Chewbacca, and Rose Tico preparing the Millennium Falcon for a large Life Day celebration. Rey’s story takes center stage in the grand scheme of things as her journey into becoming a better teacher leads her to find a mysterious crystal. This object sends her spiraling throughout the Star Wars timeline, landing herself in the franchise’s most iconic moments, such as Luke Skywalker’s successful destruction of the first Death Star. I found Rey’s storyline the more fulfilling of the two. Not only does it provide a plethora of Easter eggs, references, and numerous cameos — more on that in a later section — but it also gives the story plenty of heart. There are a few moments where Rey doubts her abilities, and these bits are emotional (not to the point where I teared up or started wailing like a baby, mind you, but merely enough to get the job done). These moments have payoffs as well which makes Rey’s triumphs all the more rewarding. On the other hand, the Life Day story is a bit weak. While the character interactions between Poe, Rose, and Chewbacca are equal parts delightful and charming, it appeared that the special often forgot about this storyline at times. When the special was following Rey’s adventures, it was so creatively crafted to the point where it seemed that the Life Day crew’s story was placed on the backburner. Quite the bummer to be honest as the holiday tackled heartwarming messages about the power of family and love, and the special would’ve benefited from more of that.

An Easter egg hunt

Image from Disney+
Rey’s story is chock-full of Easter eggs and references, and trust me: there are many of them. For Star Wars fans, this ought to be a pleasant surprise (especially by the sheer amount that there are to catch for a Lego Star Wars special). For example, Rey and her droid friend, BB-8, travel to the past and land on the second Death Star (as depicted in Return of the Jedi). There, they encounter Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine. The scene is amusing, as Palpatine is annoyed by Vader’s Life Day gift to him: a “Galaxy’s Best Emperor” mug, which the Emperor comically mocks. The scene becomes outright hilarious when Vader tells Palpatine that the name “Death Star 2” is derivative, and suggests that he change the name to “Starkiller Base.” The joke itself is referencing the planet-destroying Starkiller Base from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Not only that, but the idea of being derivative relates to Starkiller Base as well, as it is merely a rip-off of the Death Stars from the original Star Wars trilogy.

Laughter is the best medicine

Image from Disney+
The Lego Star Wars Special is a lighthearted and more family-friendly take on Star Wars; with this comes a barrage of joke upon joke. It seems with every passing second, a character will exaggerate some humorous dialogue or a situation for comedic purposes. The problem with this is that there will be times in which there will be a strike with every hit. Some jokes that work are the ones in the vein of the Starkiller Base quip by Vader or the brilliant use of “hello there” by not one, not two, but three different Obi-Wan Kenobis. Jokes that fall flat involve characters acting like hyperactive monkeys — take Dameron, for instance — who run around, spout a-mile-a-minute one-liners, and desperately try to enact their own, unique brand of physical humor. Images: Disney+ Featured Image: IMDB  

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