Reviews: The Star Wars Holiday Special

So bad it's incredible, an essential cultural artifact everyone should see.

This tv movie brings me back to the old days of terrible variety shows and hideous cabaret songs sung by old people.

Those days weren't good, and this movie is the worst of it.

The music and dance numbers are insane and seem like ironic comedy sketches, and the "comedy" seems to only exist to fill up time, and the acting and production value are just embarrassing.

You have to at least see and hear Leia's sung version of the Star Wars theme if you don't want to be masochistic and sit through the whole thing.

The true Revenge of the Sith!

In a late year of a decade uncomfortably close to our own, a bunch of greasy-haired TV execs did a Grand Canyon's worth of coke (cut with some prime yellow snow from the Appalachians) and received a clairvoyant vision from the future about something called a "prequel trilogy" that would mar irrevocably the so-far spotless reputation of Star Wars, the biggest and most beloved pop-cultural phenomenon of its time. Time nearing that season of jolly holly and good cheer and all that, they made a selfless sacrifice on behalf of all humanity and resolved to make the worst possible Star Wars holiday special they could, so as to make the sins of Christmas Future seem passable in comparison.

And by God, did they ever go beyond the call of duty.

The special's main focus is the family of Han Solo's flea-bitten space-monkey companion Chewie eagerly awaiting their paterfamilias' return for "Life Day", a totally not-at-all-Christmasey celebration they apparently had back in them long-ago galaxy days. Their dialogue, which constitutes a good chunk of the film, is of course in unsubtitled wookiee-ese/mandrill birthing noises. They run into some trouble with the Imperial Space Gestapo and narrowly evade capture by virtue of rebel collusion. And everyone lives happily ever after or something.

Non-dead wookiees. Yay.

From top to bottom, the thing is slathered in '70s excess of the worst kind. From shoe-horned musical and dance performances that kinda suck to dimestore synthesizer versions of the classic Star Wars score with the occasional jinglebells and whistles added, it's on a black-hole level of suckage.

There are some things I like, though. I always secretly suspected Han Solo is really a huge seasonal softie of the Carpenters-Snuggie™-and-nog variety, and his barely concealed Life Day enthusiasm just confirms this. And thanks to Bea Arthur's borderline-touching appearance as a barmaid with a heart as big as the Death Star, I now forever think of the scummy villains of Tatooine's cantinas as a disenfranchised True Companions group of outcasts.

In the end though, what little enjoyment to be found here is owed purely to legions of dedicated internet snarks (count me among them if you truly have to). Although it's been said, many times, many ways... crappy Life Day to you.