Quick Movie Review: The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)

star wars holiday

I survived the Star Wars Holiday Special. If you’ve ever hear word that it’s terrible, that’s no exaggeration. It’s a TV movie, but I use to word “movie” loosely. About 10% of it is actual coherent plot. The rest plays out more as a variety show with pointless segments and musical numbers scattered randomly throughout.

The overall premise follows Chewbacca’s Wookie family as they wait for him to return home for Life Day (the Wookie version of Christmas), but he is nowhere to be found. We, the audience, know that he is battling TIE fighters with Han Solo on his way home. Additionally, the Galactic Empire is searching homes for members of the Rebel Alliance.

Because there’s such little plot, and it’s a very simple concept, it shouldn’t be this hard to understand what’s going on in the movie. It doesn’t help that none of us speak Wookie (even the characters in the movie can’t understand what they’re saying). The scenes without any humans, which constitute the majority of the special, are incomprehensible and borderline unwatchable. According to writer, Bruce Vilanch, he had wanted many of these scenes cut due to the fact that the audience can’t understand the Wookie language. George Lucas insisted that they remain. Turns out Vilanch was right, as it’s not only incoherent, but in a holiday special that’s supposed to be jovial, we can’t even smile or laugh at what’s happening. But I’m not sure it would matter anyway, as even the jokes that are told by humans have terrible delivery.

Even the music numbers can’t be looked at as a pleasant break from the insipid journey through the Star Wars universe. They’re extremely plodding and lack any real character besides being hypnotic. At one point, Diahann Carroll performs some odd erotic piece which may make this the most uncomfortable holiday special in history–along with the most boring. I think when they torture prisoners they make them have to stay awake through the Star Wars Holiday Special.

Lucas couldn’t even get all the characters in the same room together. Every major actor’s scenes are filmed remotely, except for Harrison Ford’s. It’s a film that is said to feature Darth Vader–even though he literally only gets 4 seconds of screen time (which I’m pretty sure was just a cut scene from A New Hope).

The only highlight is an animated short halfway through that features the first on-screen appearance of Boba Fett. And that’s not all, the storyline is pretty good also. It makes you wish that the whole special was just animated.

The Star Wars Holiday Special wouldn’t have been nearly as bad if it was only an hour maybe. But 90 minutes is just ridiculous (2 hours including commercials). And you can’t say that it’s even bad in a funny way. It’s just flat-out painful. I love Star Wars as much as the next guy, but there’s no wonder why George Lucas wanted all of these destroyed.

Twizard Rating: 32