There are two things pretty much every Star Wars fan can agree on: 1) The 1978 holiday special is hilariously bad and 2) The Rise of Skywalker was kind of a mess. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that combining the two would result in a subpar Star Wars adventure.
The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special from writer David Shayne and director Ken Cunningham (both best-known for their work on previous LEGO adaptations) is mostly a harmless romp through Lucasfilm history, but in the process, this Disney+ movie manages to undercut one of the only legitimately great things that happened in The Rise of Skywalker: Rey's yellow lightsaber.
Before we go any further, I should note that while this might technically be considered a spoiler, it happens in the first few minutes of the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special. But if you'd rather save this for later, you can watch the 45-minute-long movie when it arrives on Disney+ November 17 (though I can't say I actually recommend watching this thing).
Still here? Cool. You likely remember how The Rise of Skywalker ended with Rey building a new yellow lightsaber out of her old staff, signifying a new direction for the Jedi and the Force. It was a great moment in an otherwise muddled movie, combining Star Wars history with Rey's own journey to offer a glimmer of hope for the future of the saga.
Don't worry, Rey's lightsaber is still yellow in the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special, which takes place on Life Day shortly after Episode 9. In fact, in one of the first scenes, we see her using that yellow saber to train Finn, which basically confirms the unsaid fact that he's also Force-sensitive. But my issue is the lightsaber itself, which looks like, well, any old lightsaber where it should be clearly distinctive and different.
This might feel like I'm making a mountain out of a molehill (or maybe a Sarlacc pit out of a small hole in the ground), but considering the excitement around Rey's new lightsaber, it's disappointing that the first time it shows up since Rise of Skywalker it looks like any old lightsaber — but yellow. Even Kylo Ren gets his signature crossguard weapon design, so why not put a little extra effort in for Rey, too?
Speaking of Kylo, the best part of the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special is undeniably the villains. Through some time travel shenanigans that set up the basic premise, Kylo, Emperor Palpatine, and Darth Vader end up in the same room together. The dynamic between them quickly devolves into Abbott and Costello with Force lightning: funny but repetitive and, at times, hard to follow.
There's also an extremely brief Mandalorian moment, which was teased in the trailer and barely amounts to anything more than what you saw there. Rey, Vader, and a multitude of other Star Wars characters spend most of the movie stumbling through space and time, which makes for a lot of cute encounters but nothing meaty enough to really grab onto.
The voice acting is also extremely hit or miss. Some fan favorites return, including Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico (who plays a more important role here than she did in Episode IX), Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian, and Anthony Daniels as C-3PO. Unfortunately, sequel stars like Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver clearly weren't available, and the entire movie suffers as a result.
Ultimately, if you're looking for a couple of lazy jokes about the Skywalker family tree and an excuse to smash LEGO Jedi figures together, this is your movie. But if you were hoping it would provide a satisfying update on what happens after The Rise of Skywalker, well, considering the title, you probably shouldn't be surprised this Star Wars holiday special isn't much better than the first one.
The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special premieres November 17 on Disney+.