Bad Movie Review (Extra Life 2018) – The Star Wars Holiday Special

The Bad Movie Review series of posts are a set of posts written as the result of meeting a $1,200 stretch goal for Extra Life, an annual 24-hour video gaming charity marathon event that benefits children’s hospitals.

By Star Wars geek standards, I’m known to be pretty tolerant of some of the franchise’s…lesser efforts. I didn’t absolutely hate The Phantom Menace, I’m not even close to being on The Last Jedi hate train, and I thought the prequels managed to salvage themselves into at least above average by the time Revenge of the Sith came around. I may have even laughed once – well, perhaps just chuckled – at Jar Jar Binks’ antics.

But every geek has their limit of tolerance, and I definitely reached it with The Star Wars Holiday Special, a campy and glorious mess of guest stars, barely present Star Wars stars and literal incoherence that was presented to clearly capitalize on Lucas’ suddenly and unexpectedly popular sci-fi hit of the 70’s. Don’t get me wrong – I went in with an open mind, hoping for perhaps a kind of poorly presented, yet heart-warming story of holiday cheer starring my favorite characters from A New Hope.

What I got instead was a side story that made no sense, mostly because of the fact that the main plot involves Chewbacca’s family, and since nobody appeared to come up with the practical idea of subtitling Wookiee-speak, a good half to 3/4ths of the movie is left to us to interpret exactly what all the roaring, growling, and howling is about. I think I came up with the idea that Chewbacca’s son absolutely hates taking out the garbage, that Chewbacca’s father is a bit of an old perv into virtual fantasy girls, and that Chewbacca’s wife is really into cooking shows. I mean, sure, you get a decently general idea but without the nuance of dialogue and very little expression, all you have to connect everything together are the musical numbers and the insertion of the occasional recognizable Star Wars actor or celebrity.

Speaking of those actors, you can clearly tell that the budget to keep them on screen for longer than a minute or two at the time was extremely limited. Out of all of them, Harrison Ford’s Han Solo is on there the longest, and at around 10 minutes or so collectively, even that feels short, making Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill’s brief appearances seem like blink-and-they’re-gone flashes. With that clearly not driving the special, the show is forced to shoehorn well-known celebrities into implausible Star Wars-like scenarios like a bar in Tattooine shut down for curfew or as a band serving as entertainment to a bored Imperial soldier. The only part that has any kind of organized sense to it is a side note cartoon feature, which has more character development for bounty Boba Fett than in all the Star Wars movies combined and has a significant amount of, well, Star Wars character acting, albeit in cartoon form.

Obviously, in the end, all works out for Chewbacca and his family, and I’d be more heartwarmed by it if I actually could understand what was being said and not pantomimed and howled. Thankfully, the Hallmark channel, TV shows,and the movie holiday season learned a bit from the disjointed mess that was the Star Wars Holiday Special and made sure their holiday presentations were not just ways to get more eyes on something but also to actually present a plot. as it is, this one doesn’t even rate a “still better than Twilight” comment for how inconsistent the story is, and that’s saying something.

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