I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Preston Barta // Features Editor
THE LEGO STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL
TV-G, 44 minutes.
Director: Ken Cunningham
Cast: Helen Sadler, Eric Bauza, Matthew Wood, Tom Kane, Anthony Daniels, A.J. LoCascio, Kelly Marie Tran, Ben Prendergast, Jake Green, Dee Bradley Baker, James Arnold Taylor and Matt Lanter
As terrific as THE MANDALORIAN is, it’s not exactly the most kid-friendly show. Well, unless your children are older than – say maybe – 12 or can handle a few damns, gun blasts, and Baby Yoda punches. I have a 3-year-old son who’s already obsessed with STAR WARS (I didn’t, uh, force this on him or anything), but finding something appropriate for him proves to be a little more challenging. (CLONE WARS certainly helps.)
Enter THE LEGO STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL.
Some loyal fans may chuckle at the title, thinking it’s a Lego remake of the notoriously dreadful 1978 Holiday Special. Thankfully, this is in a galaxy far, far away from that. It’s like imagining a PG-rated episode of ROBOT CHICKEN, THE LEGO MOVIE, AVENGERS: ENDGAME, and IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE all rolled into one 45-minute event. It’s got laugh-a-minute gags, a surprising amount of heart, and a charming cast of voices.
Set directly after the events of STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER, Rey (voiced by Helen Sadler, who sounds exactly like Daisy Ridley) is worried that she’s not going to be a good enough teacher when it comes to sharing the ways of the Force. The Sacred Jedi texts don’t appear to have all the answers that she needs. As a result, she leaves her friends behind while preparing for a big holiday celebration to embark on a cross-timeline journey. BB-8 joins the fun to gain a deeper understanding of the Force.
Gear up to pass through some of STAR WARS’ most iconic moments, including Rey coming into contact with a young Luke Skywalker (Eric Bauza), Darth Vader (Matt Sloan), Yoda (Tom Kane), and Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor), to name a few.
I had a feeling this was going to be a winner when Disney’s marketing revealed a movie poster of Darth Vader gifting Luke with a new Lego hand. Throughout the movie, mostly after we’re kicked back to the past, zingers are woven into the fabric of this funny holiday sweater of a movie. I can’t count how many times I looked over at my wife — you know that look: when a movie seems to be in on a joke that you’ve made to your significant other before — to witness her reaction.
Kylo Ren (Matthew Wood) spinning around in the Emperor’s chair, making fun of his tantrums and the shirtless scene from THE LAST JEDI? Hilarious. Luke with green milk mustaches? LOL. Greedo is cracking wise about shooting first? So funny! And so, so much more. Don’t forget about Lego jokes.
It has this energy that hasn’t really existed before in STAR WARS. THE LAST JEDI had its moments, for sure. But some people took issue with those tonal breaks (along with many other things). Here, they are easier to forgive because, hello, you’re in a Lego universe. So, if Darth Maul hopping around with half of his body is too much to swallow in the live-action STAR WARS movies, well, it’ll put a smile on your face to see it in the LEGO HOLIDAY SPECIAL.
Laughs aplenty, most definitely. However, there’s also some heart to absorb. Revisiting these beloved scenes across the nine films in the Skywalker saga (and THE MANDALORIAN) operate like IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. They help the heroine to realize what’s she had all along. Sometimes what people have done before isn’t always the best route. It’s about finding your own path.
I honestly could have watched a feature-length film with this story. The filmmakers perhaps knew that going beyond 45 minutes would have worn out their welcome, but I sure hope they have more ideas brewing. I’m all for STAR WARS having its cake and eating it, too.
Now streaming on Disney+.