The Star Wars Holiday Special (TV Movie 1978) Poster

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Now I know how Belloq Felt!
Chris Chamberlain27 November 2004
As many other posters stated, I had been warned. And the legends are true! And like the Nazis, once you remove the cover to the Ark, you have to deal with the consequences. I paid 13 bucks for it, and it is a pile of crap. For the stouthearted who choose to soldier on, I have two recommendations:

1. Do not watch this alone! Like any other emotional trauma, the support of friends is crucial to survival. By the end, you will either want to climb a steeple with a rifle, or go into the garage and start the car.

2. Do not operate while unimpaired. An altered level of consciousness can cushion your psyche. I tried it straight, but within ten minutes I was forced to seek the companionship of my foamy 12 ounce friends.

At any rate, this helping of dog goo brings to light painful questions about Chewbacca and his people long ago in a galaxy far, far away. Questions probably better left unasked. Such as, despite the treetop setting, why does their dwelling place resemble a 70's ski lodge with an Astroturf floor?

Why does the local trader wear black plastic Earth glasses? How were the Wookies able to convert an ordinary cassette player into a Holograph projector? And, regarding said projector, why is the youth Lumpy (who is probably yelling "Franks and Beans!" in Wookie), so fascinated with the freakish flailings of a poor man's Cirque de Soleil? Finally, why in God's name does the patriarch of the clan, Itchy, get so aroused over a pseudo Irene Cara performing a sickening disco song and dance? It was highly disturbing.

Those are the questions that torment me. The other posters have done a far better job than myself covering the horrid sequences with Starship, Bea Arthur (shudder), Harvey Korman and Art Carney. But I must add this: I thought the animated sequence sucked. The story with decent artists probably would have been a cool comic book, but the animation and artwork was terrible. Too cartoony. Artoo physically jumping, his rigid metallic body curving about. And something about Han's head looking like it had been run over by a truck, all squashed...

Like Lot's wife, you have been warned...
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2/10
One word: Misguided
Mr. Pulse16 December 2001
I don't know whose idea this thing was, but it was a bad one. The "Star Wars Holiday Special" took place in between the two movies, and is famous amongst Star Wars fans for featuring the first appearance of Boba Fett, and completely forgotten by everyone else. Why so forgotten? Because, simply, the show is absolutely terrible.

The "special" (and I use that term as loosely as possible) is about Chewbacca's family, who await his return for the celebration of the holiday "Life Day." Far as I can gather, the holiday involves Christmas ornament-like globes and wearing red robes and being Wookies. The special is basically two hours of waiting, and along the way there are cameos by all the major stars of the original film (Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, etc.) It's shocking they appear at all, I have to believe the mob was involved for them to show up. They don't do much, and look thoroughly ashamed of themselves. And they should be; after all, all the action is given to Art Carney (Don't ask me), who plays a trader who's friends with the, uh, Baccas. Action hero Art Carney, ladies and gentlemen.

The show has more asides than a Shakespearian play. There is no plot, there are only little goofy tidbits. None of it is very Star Warsish. Harvey Korman plays a few roles, including an alien version of Julia Childs, and a robot explaining how to set up a communication device. Bea Arthur works in the infamous Cantina, which on a tv budget looks a lot like a diner with some guys with alien masks. She gets a very lengthy musical number and so do Jefferson Starship, and others.

Why would you make a Star Wars special that had nothing to do with Star Wars? It's mostly musical numbers, third rate celebrities (Way older than Star Wars' target audience I should mention), and Wookies who can't speak English. There's a good twenty minute period where no English is spoken since it's just the three Wookies goofing off. If this is genius stuff, then so's "Freddy Got Fingered."

The important Boba Fett apperanace is also one of the few truly entertaining moments of the show; a cartoon about Luke and co. meeting Boba for the first time. It's exciting and well voiced and animated. It's also just a little doo-dad that Lumpy (Yes, when you're named Chewie you name your son Lumpy) watches on a little video screen while waiting for his dad to come home.

It's funny to watch, and painful to watch, and annoying to watch, and mind-boggling to watch. It has to be seen to be believed, but do you really even want to?
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1/10
It Isn't a Train Wreck- it Moves too Slowly
CTS-123 August 2006
OK, if you are reading this, you have probably already heard about the nightmarish details of this film. Carrie Fisher sings, badly, an "inspirational" version of the Star Wars theme. Art Carney shows way too much skin. Mark Hammill looks like a drag queen, and Harrison Ford looks like he was dragged on set against his will by a gang of thugs.

The "musical numbers" are bizarre, irrelevant, and bear no resemblance to anything else. I think I speak for everyone when I say that I hope that mysterious orifice on the top of Harvey Korman's head has one, and only one, use.

But, gentle reader, I do not criticize the painful individual moments of this disaster, no matter how many there are. I do not even criticize the fact that Wookies are made to look like either obnoxious twits or creepy perverts. No, I want to talk about pacing, or in this work's case, p-a-c-i-n-g...

Taken as a whole, there was about enough plot here for a 30 minute network special. But, that would not be long enough. So, the viewer gets 20 minutes of wookie-speak, which goes nowhere. And dance numbers, which go nowhere... And Bea Arthur singing, which might go somewhere we don't want to know about... The fact is, amazingly little happens during this thing's excruciatingly long running time.

Having a martini handy is a must. Just do not drink every time you get bored.
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Don't talk to me about Episode I until you've seen this unholy mess
The_Film_Cricket20 April 2004
Not long ago I attended a party give by my Star Wars group and as a prize in the trivia contest I received - among other things - a VHS copy of The Star Wars Holiday Special. Having now seen it I have begun to wonder if it wouldn't have best been served as the booby prize. Anyone who obsessively bashes Episode I for being too lame, too mamby pamby or too childish obviously has yet to set eyes of this 1978 hunk of Christmas cow flop strung together on the authority of George Lucas' ex wife Marsha. I know they got divorced sometime after this special aired but I'm guessing that is she had it in mind to ruin him, this was the perfect weapon.

It's been 25 years since CBS hoisted this unholy nightmare on the American public and in that time I had never seen it until last night and oh my lord I could have gone another 25, 40, 50, 300 years without ever having it drilled into my brain a second time.

This is without a doubt the most horrific thing I have ever witnessed on screen and I've seen Howard the Duck! What in the world possessed anyone to soil the Star Wars name with this dreck? My friend assured me that the special was actually pretty good if you got past all the Wookie manure - BUT THE WOOKIES TAKE OVER THE WHOLE SHOW!!!!

The story takes place sometime after Episode IV and finds Chewbacca's family waiting for him to come home for something called Life Day (I dunno, maybe it's a day where they worship board games). The wookies are nothing short of nauseating. Mama bear (Chewie's wife) gushes over a picture of her beloved and is forever scolding Chewie's son Lumpy. Lumpy (yes, Lumpy) whines, disobeys and aggravates the stew out of his mother. Sadly, he becomes the central character.

The most curious character is Itchy, the grandfather (where's Scratchy?) a gray haired old codger with a serious under bite and a strange fixation on Diahann Carroll. She plays a character credited as "Holographic Wow". He's given a gift for Life Day that looks something like a hair dryer, the kind you might have found in a beauty parlor when segregation was in effect. This strange device offers gramps a vision of Carroll superimposed on something that looks like a dirty bathtub drain. He gets so excited at one point that he begins beating the chair arm rapidly with his fist. And that's all I have to say about that.

Chewie's family isn't the most repulsive thing in this mess. No, the fingernails-on-the-blackboard award goes to Harvey Korman who plays three ungainly characters, one more jaw-dropping than the last. First, he plays a rather odd looking female robotic chef who hosts a cooking show and gets a little excited when she gets to the part where she is suppose to stir and whip at the same time (the mixture that is). The second is the most bizarre, a robotic instructor who gives Lumpy instructions on how to put an electronic device together and malfunctions in ways that just shouldn't be seen on public television. The third is a strange creature who drinks through a hole in the top of his head and has a fixation on Bea Arthur (don't ask). Bea Arthur by the way plays the Cantina bartender and has to get everyone out because the Empire has imposed a curfew. How does she clear the place? She sings!

In the midst of all the guest star hooey are Mark Hamill smacked with so much eye make-up that he looks like his own action figure. And then there's Harrison "what in the heck am I doing here" Ford and a hopped-up, glassy-eyed Carrie Fisher looking like . . . well there is a Betty Ford joke here but it's just too easy.

I will say that the day is almost saved by an odd but kind of fun animated sequence involving Luke and the droids befriending Boba Fett who is secretly leading them to Vader. It's cute and I would like to have seen more but I have yet to understand why Han's animated face looks like a Clone Trooper helmet (shrug).

3PO appears briefly in this special for recognition sake and truthfully when it was all over I was surprised that he didn't once muse "How did we get into this mess?" I would have asked that question myself.
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1/10
Truly horrible!
CRidgeNorway26 November 2006
A film about Chewbaccas family, and their celebration of Life Day. A film so bad, it was only aired once. George Lucas has been quoted as saying: If he had the time, he would break every existing VHS-copy of this movie - it is that bad! It contains Leia singing, Chewbaccas dad watching a fantasy movie, with erotic undertones, acrobats, an animated section and a rock concert. All your favorite characters from the first movie is here - one worse than the other.

The film isn't helped by the fact that much of the dialog is in Chewbaccas language.

There are also many logical holes in the story, like when Chewbaccas wife calls the local tradesman on the video phone, she gets to watch a long sequence of what goes on in the shop before the tradesman suddenly notices that someone is calling.

The core of the story - if you can call it a story - is that Chewbacca isn't home for Life Day in time - he is held up by fighting the Empire. This probably only takes up 5% of the movie time - most of the movie takes place in Chewbaccas home. We see what goes on with the family while they wait, with occasional brief appearances by characters from the first Star Wars movie.

This is truly a horrible movie - worth watching, just to see how bad it can be done!
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Of course you want to watch it.....
stevenfallonnyc12 August 2003
...seriously, what Star Wars fan *wouldn't* want to watch this? Well, maybe a few - I remember when this first aired, this young kid was totally psyched, and got all my snacks ready and sat at the TV -- and after 15 minutes, I turned if OFF. I am going to try to give a different take towards this one than the other reviewers, because of course they are all correct, this is an amazingly bad piece of garbage.

First off, yep, I and no one else who is a Star Wars fan who has seen this will ever disagree it is complete and total crap. But you know the old saying about train wrecks, you just *have* to watch them, this is that. Because as unbelievably horrible as it is, and as totally unfathomably bad every scene is, as a Star Wars fan you wanna see these characters in new scenes.

It IS cool seeing "new" footage of Han and Chewie in the Falcon's cockpit. It's cool seeing Luke do his thing, Leia, the droids, everyone, although this is nothing but a huge mess, you gotta like seeing these characters again somewhere. Of course, as you watch you may say to yourself that you wish you had NEVER seen this, because it taints the memory of these great Star Wars characters. So was actually seeing this special worth it? If you can keep your feelings about Star Wars in check and dismiss this easily, sure it is.

The Boba Fett appearance in the animated sequence is very cool, best thing about the show probably. It's too short though, especially in such a long show.

But you know, this is one part of the Star Wars universe where I would love some additional information. The special itself we have - but this is the only piece of the Star Wars universe we know almost nothing of the background about. How was this show proposed? What were the creative meetings for this abomination like? Who felt this should be 2 hours long in broadcast time? What did the actors say and feel when they read what they were supposed to do? How did the recording of Carrie Fisher's "Star Wars song" go? Did everyone on screen just think this was a big joke before it was through?

And most importantly...did absolutely no one whatsoever in power have any ability at all to see this final product and realize what a complete piece of garbage this was, and what a blight on the Star Wars universe this would surely become? Were there stipulations that said this HAD to air, and they couldn't even trim it down?

I can't believe after creating such a masterpiece like "Star Wars" that George Lucas didn't have the eyes to see what a total hack job this Star Wars Holiday TV Special was. (Even with "Episode 2" in existence I still have to give George the benefit on this one.)

So c'mon....what is the REAL untold story behind this...this....this thing?

Maybe the "E" network can help?

THAT would make for a much better tale than anything on this special.

But you gotta watch.

One more interesting note -- at a sci-fi con in New Jersey in the later 90's, at the end when the place was clearing out, one dealer that was selling tapes still had his TV on and he had none other than the Star Wars Holiday Special playing, maybe hoping to sell a last copy or two. Then, none other than convention guests Peter Mayhew (Chewie) and Kenny Baker (R2D2), by themselves, passed this dealer's table on their way out, and saw the Special playing, and then they started staring intently at it. Their jaws just dropped. The dealer was shocked when he noticed them (he was packing his stuff) and then he said something like "hi guys," and both Peter and Kenny answered with something along the lines of that they haven't thought about the Special in many years. Then Peter said "c'mon Kenny" and they walked off. Interesting!
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Oh Harrison, oh Mark, oh Carrie.........................................how could you?
tom farrell21 December 2004
It is safe to say that Star Wars was THE big culture craze of the 1970s. The Sixities had Beatlemania, the Seventies had Star Wars-mania. And just to underscore the parallel, the Fab Four released a film 'The Magical Mystery Tour' which was shown on Christmas 1968 by the BBC in black and white. The movie was a critical and commercial disaster, regarded as painfully bad. Exactly a decade later, the Midas-touch of Star Wars also gave out when Luke, Han, Leia and Chewie ventured onto the small screen for this seasonal special. But while the 1968 TV fiasco at least gave us hits like 'I am the Walrus' and 'Fool on the Hill', the 1978 special has Carrie Fisher singing 'The Life Day Song' to the tune of the John Williams theme music! Yep..you read that right. Carrie Fisher, resplendent in her bedlinen-and 'donught' hairdo warbles a song... "A day that takes us through the darkness/A day that leads us to life/A day that leads us to celebrate/A lifeee/To live/To laugh/To dream/To grow/To know....!!!!" Anyone who thought 'Attack of the Clones' was a disappointment needs to check out this CBS 'family special' in which Han and Chewbacca are racing across the galaxy to get to Chewie's home planet in time for the Wookie's equivalent of Thanksgiving, Life Day. This being 'A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away' there can't be a Christmas, you see. The equivalent seems to involve lots of robed and hooded Wookies marching across the stars into the sun! Parts of 'Episode Four a New Hope' that ended up on the cutting room floor are slotted in for the space sequences. The Millennium Falcon is being pursued by some highly camp Imperials. Meanwhile, back on Chewbacca's planet we are introduced to his 'wife' (Malla) his cutsey proto-Ewok son (Lumpy) and his rather perverted father-in-law Itchy. Thus for about 10-15 minutes we have Malla in an apron making 'HHHAARPPPPHH!' and 'WHHHUUUUURRRRRRRKKK' noises at her son for not tidying up his room (it has stuffed Banthas). Without subtitles too... At intervals, Lumpy contacts some of the Star Wars Cast by videophone. Remember, this is the winter of 1978 when Carrie Fisher was having boyfriend trouble with Paul Simon and drug problems while Mark Hamill had recently been in a near-death car accident. In both cases, it really shows... Hamill, in particular, having recently undergone extensive facial reconstruction anticipates 'New Romantic' fashions by three years, appearing caked in make-up. Elsewhere, Art Carney and Bea Arthur appear in the Mos Eisley cantina where, having chatted to a giant hamster, launch into a musical number. Of course, being a Seventies Holiday Special, musical numbers abound. The viewer half expects Marie and Donny Osmond to start a musical debut on the Yavin rebel base but sadly, this never happens. Instead, Jefferson Starship turn up on some kind of hologrammic chessboard. But best of all, Itchy settles into an interactive video-machine and watches Diahann Carroll sing a 'lurve' song that causes him to become 'excited' in a way that must have at least some parents shielding their kids' eyes. What is fascinating about this 1978 TV Special is the way in which all involved have conspired to airbrush it from history. Carrie Fisher pretended not to know what the journalist was talking about in an interview some years later. The director Steve Binder is known for directing the 1968 Elvis 'Comeback' while writer Pat Profit later went on to script the 'Naked Gun' movies. The lesson would seem to be that while music and comedy have their place, they need to be kept to a minimum in a galactic epic. The 'musical' number in Jabba's palace was the least watchable part of the 'Special Edition' Return of the Jedi. Comic relief can be painful if not thought out properly (We're looking at you, Jar Jar Binks...)

Lucas, who gave the go ahead to the Thanksgiving Special is reported to have said he'd like to smash every every bootlegged VHS tape of this excruciating show...serves you right George for such a cynical attempt to grab the pre-Christmas toy market.
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"Ludlow...you're HEARTLESS!"
roark-1225 April 2002
I was stoned out of my mind when I saw this thing. It's truly stunning. Note that Hollywood Squares staple Bruce Vilanch was one of the writers. (This show bears odd similarities to his other opus, "The Brady Bunch Variety Hour".) By the time this creation, which I call "Episode 4.5" was in its zenith, so was I; the pipe was empty. I felt as though Princess Leia's voice was vibrating in my spine. At one point she looked right at me and I saw her with my entire face, not just my eyes. The best moments are with Bea Arthur. I rewound the exchange between her and "Ludlow" and "Thorpe" about twenty times. "Short memory, eh, Thorpe? SHORT MEMORY!" By the time the Wookies were walking through outer space in red robes towards what appears to be the sun I felt as though I was with them. I don't remember the cartoon, but I do recall Mark Hamill looking like he was auditioning for the Gay Ice Capades. Also, you will find out several things you may have wanted to know about "Star Wars":

How do Wookies entertain themselves? Why is Grandpa Wookie named "Itchy"? What is the warm, cuddly side of Han Solo? What would a love scene between Bea Arthur and Harvey Korman REALLY look like? What are the lyrics to the "Star Wars" theme? And what would they sound like if Princess Leia sang them? What would it be like for an aged, portly Art Carney to engage in a familiar "Honeymooners" routine with an Imperial Guard as his Ralphie-boy? But it stll leaves several questions: Why does "Lumpy" so resemble the kid from "Eight is Enough"? Why do the characters from "Star Wars" never change their clothes until "The Empire Strikes Back"? What was the story behind the "Short memory!" crack? Was there a romance between Bea Arthur and "Thorpe"? If so, what are the long-term consequences to the Cantina atmosphere? Was Bea Arthur just filling in that day for the big ugly fellow who ran the bar in "A New Hope"? Or does she own the place? Why do Imperial Guards adore "Jefferson Starship", and why do old Wookies have a fetish for African-American Humans?

I hope Lucas creates another one of these. I would love to see Jar-Jar Binks exchange puns with Kelsey Grammar or Ray Romano.
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in the name of all that is holy please watch this pile of crap!
aj_guy318120 December 2004
I've always been a big fan of star wars and I thought I knew a lot about it until my boy friend and his best friend asked me if I have ever seen the holiday special. I didn't even know one existed and I had actually seen both Ewok movies, go figure.

Well as a joke I suppose our friend gave us the movie last night for xmas and we popped it in. It is by far the most heinous piece of crap I have ever seen. I was warned it was bad but, WOW it was terrible. I lost an hour and a half of my life and really nothing happened during that time other than losing any shred of respect I may have had for George Lucas.

The effects are so bad they are hilarious and there seems to be some type of odd porn scene involving Chewbaca's father and some 70's Disco Queen. I watched most of the program with my mouth hanging wide open in utter disbelief. The rest of the time I was laughing at just how awful the whole thing really is.

I still recommend watching the film if only to say that you have. Especially if you claim to be a Star Wars geek. Just make sure you have plenty of alcohol on hand and some friends with an excellent sense of humor.
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1/10
Obi-Wan said it best...
yamato71k24 August 2006
"I felt a great disturbance in The Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened." Yes, Obi-Wan, we all felt it, just moments after the closing credits began scrolling down our television screens. Personally, I've actually considered buying a used VCR and a copy of this video on E-Bay as a sure-fire cure for the occasional constipation that many of my generation suffer from, since just the thought of watching this again after 28 years makes my bowels quiver and purge. Like so many, I was a Star wars addict, and waited with great anticipation for several months after the network began hyping this sickening attempt to cash in on the Christmas-is-just- around-the corner toy market. But exactly what toys could one expect to find on the shelves that could be identified with this "Special?' Hmmmmm.....lets see. Perhaps an Art Carney or Beatrice Arthur action figure?
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1/10
Horrible
pjdlh8156 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I have seen some bad movies before, but this was easily the worst.

I tried watching this with my brother, but he fell asleep 10 minutes into it (I'm surprised he made it that long).

It would be wrong to say It's about Han and Chewbacca trying to get home for life day, because they, along with the rest of the actual star wars cast are barley in the movie. It's actually about Chewbacca's family walking around their house, watching pointless holograms. Also, the wookiees are non subtitled, making this film all the worse.

Chewie's family includes his wife Malla, his son Lumpy, and his father, Itchy. There are two things I don't understand about them. One is why Itchy constantly yells at his grandson, and, two, what they say.

This movie also includes an extremely random and pointless scene at the Mos Esliy Cantina, a 5 second cameo by Darth Vader, and an awful song by princess Leia.

please, save yourself.
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1/10
Unwatchable - yes, it's that bad
santegeezhe10 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I've seen a lot of bad movies in my day, but I swear to god this is the worst thing I've ever had to sit through. In truth, I couldn't even watch the whole thing and shut if off around the one hour and ten minute mark. It's quite literally unwatchable.

My only consolation is that I didn't have to pay a dime for this crap, as I managed to find a streaming version on some dude's website. The quality was pretty terrible, but so is this entire friggin movie, so what's the difference? This movie's main sin is that it's excruciatingly boring. It's like a string of boring, pointless vignettes strung together with even more boring and pointless filler. Hell, there's one ten-minute-or-so stretch where it's just Wookies barking at each other with no subtitles! It would almost be laughable if it wasn't so depressingly bad.

It's really not even worth wasting bandwidth and cyberspace describing it. It's utter and complete crap.

As a Star Wars fan, and as something of a completist, I felt I had to see this chapter of the Star Wars saga. Well, I'm sorry I did. It just made me angry, sad, and bored. Avoid at all costs.
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1/10
YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS
floridanate8 May 2004
This is without a doubt the worst television special ever created. I have NEVER laughed as hard as I did. This is purely HILARIOUS, and everyone should see it. Harrison Ford looks genuinely p***ed off to be in it! So bad it's great!

If you get a chance, check out the Star Wars Musical also. Dam#, Lucas merchandises everything to the maximum. This really is funny. Watch this special!
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1/10
so bad i could not watch star wars for 6 months
mathalliday16 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This was possibly the worst mistake i have ever made in my life, and yet at the same time a wise choice to watch it when presented with the opportunity. If presented with the chance to watch this wonderful waste of time then do, as long as the copy is of a decent quality and that you don't have to pay for it (or at least no more than the cost of a writable DVD or a video tape) because for some of the more unstable of you folks out there taking your own life might be an option after seeing this film, and paying £/$13 (or appropriate currency for your country)as another reviewer had the misfortune to, may just tip the scales.

There are some treasures in the film that are a must if like me you are a somewhat masochistic viewer and enjoy the odd absolutely terrible or embarrassing movie, just to see if you are man enough to take it (if you have seen any Olsen twin films and lived then you will know what i mean and manliness has been truly proved) such as (small spoiler, although all of this film was spoilt simply by being made) princess Leia's song and the fact that apart from Mark Hamill and the various d-list TV veterans who's careers rely on these things, the entire cast look as though they are being held at gunpoint.

Give it a chance, it is utterly terrible but if the opportunity is there it is not worth turning down and getting upset by not seeing it. Like being sick after having too much to drink, better to get this out of the way and out of your system as quick as possible.

One final warning, like i said at the top, i could not watch any of the star wars films (and indeed any films for a few days) for 6 months after seeing this, and i am one of the few who enjoyed episode one, so if like many you hated episode one, prepare yourself to enter hell.
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The End of Innocence
theoldcrow28 May 2002
I was 14 when this thing originally aired. It galls me to this day, and here is why:

A little more than a year earlier, an awesome film with spectacular cinematic production values was released. It was called Star Wars. Not "A New Hope", not "Episode IV"...just..."Star Wars". And it blew everything else away. You can tell when certain films create a defining moment: the science-fiction film genre is neatly divided into 'before Star Wars' and 'after Star Wars'. This was something that even "2001: A Space Odyssey" couldn't do, even if it was (and still is) the pinnacle of writing and directing science-fiction for the big screen. The reason was simple: Star Wars connected profoundly with *every* kid's 'wanna be an astronaut/fireman/policeman when I grow up' youthful fancy, even if the 'kids' were thirty-somethings (or older!). Star Wars, in its pre-episodic release, was a wonderfully simple story, not the muddled-with-forward-and-backward-references, vastly more complex story the saga was to become. It is this simplicity I sometimes miss, perhaps because it reminds me of a time when my own life was less complicated.

When rumors of the 'Holiday Special' began, I recall it actually being looked upon as eagerly anticipated, at least among the people I knew at the time. This was mid-1978, probably when the actual holiday special footage was being recorded. Already the first indications of a new Star Wars film, The Empire Strikes Back, were public knowledge, so this holiday special just *had* to be built along the same production values as the films. Or so I (and a lot of others) thought. I should have known better, the special being for television and not cinema. When the Holiday Special aired, I was ready to be transported to that galaxy far, far away and be dazzled all over again...

The opening was promising, what with Han and Chewie being chased down by Imperial Star Destroyers and so on, yet even this opening teaser had an omen of doom attached, that being when Han said something like "That's the spirit, you'll be celebrating Life Day before you know it!" Han wasn't the only one beginning to get a bad feeling about this. The opening credits are when I actually started to fear the worst. These were NOT film-optical titles! They were video-overlays. The problem is, I just saw a scene obviously shot on film. And why are all these sitcom/variety show actors in the billing? Then it began to hit me: stock footage was going to represent actual Star Wars content, and the rest is going to be a nightmare version of the Carol Burnett Show. This wasn't going to be on the same planet of production values as Star Wars, let alone the same room. And I was exactly right! For the next 2 hours I watched, hoping in vain for some sort of payoff that justified the unfolding tragedy. Today, I remember only two distinct moments in the Holiday Special that got a reaction out of me: 1) I was p***ed off when the Imperial Stormtrooper broke the kid's crystal radio 2) I reasonably liked the animated bit.

After it was all over, I remember being angry. Not because I'd just been subjected to a crappy variety show with the Star Wars nameplate attached, but that this was broadcast nationwide and that a LOT of people (kids my age in particular) weren't going to be able to deal with that ineffable 'spark of magic' that made Star Wars such a delight being doused in a bucket of water. The almost-naive innocence that Luke Skywalker brought forth in all of us was gone forever, because we had just seen the magic turned into crap.

It would be another two years before Empire's release. Only then did most of the harm get undone. But not entirely. ESB is by far the best written of the five theatrical films that exist as of this writing, but with ESB began the complex story telling. And while the story in ESB was well-told, it comes with a price: Luke's actual loss-of-innocence visibly marks the point when Star Wars ceased to be a childhood delight and transcended into epic storytelling. If the Holiday Special had aired after ESB, I wouldn't have been so angry. At least our innocence would have been plausibly lost as we settled into watching a mature story, instead of rudely torn from our souls by a bunch of hack TV writers.
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10/10
Lucas tried to burn every copy of this (tried)
MisterWhiplash18 May 2002
I can see why Lucas would take the action he would against this piece; TV took his characters and actors and created a spectacularly cheesy and laughably stupid special with characters never created by Lucas (or even the writers from the Star Wars novels). Who are these characters? Well, it gets in part with the story, where in which Han and Chewie have to get back to Chewie's home planet and, yes, family- his wife Mala, his father Iggy, his sone Lumpy, to celebrate life day.

The highlight of this program, of course, is the cartoon where in which we see the first sign of Boba Fett (although with episode II in chronological order that comes first), and the rest of it has the cast members singing songs and delivering bad, bad acting. But what was weird was that I couldn't take my eyes off the screen the whole show, it was basically the Star Wars train wreck. You will laugh at its incredible ridiculousness if you have a sense of humor, but if you are a strident Star Wars fan who loves the intense action and mystery from the saga (and believe me I'm one of them also), walk away from it, never happened. Art Carney, Bea Arthur, Jefferson Starship and Diahann Caroll co-star. B-
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'special' like in 'special education'
nils-3331 October 2003
Well, I certainly had been warned. Every single review I read on the internet told me not to watch this, as it might damage the fondness I had for Star Wars. That even I, as a fan of both Star Wars and crappy movies, would not enjoy it and waste 2 hours of my life.

Well, Its all true, of course. But in this post-Jar Jar Binks world the 'Star Wars' feeling had already been severely cheapened by mister George Lucas himself, so I just had to find it, it was my new holy grail.

Now I have finally found it, downloaded it and watched it. Took me a whole day as well, because it's hard to watch more than 5 minutes at a time. It felt like a week though, especially the mind-numbing wookie-homelife parts. The commercial breaks, which were supposed to be the good parts, were not included.

The famous Boba Fett introducing animation looks nice, but it's hardly a story, more like the first segment of a longer piece. The rest is just awful, just like everyone who has laid eyes on this crap had already told me.

But by all means, watch it, and marvel at it's utter awfulness.
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1/10
I still shudder just looking at the reviews...
ragnarok477 April 2003
I purchased this steaming pile on eBay after hearing about: 1) its badness 2) its first appearance of Boba Fett and 3) its historical significance in the Star Wars series

I am ashamed to say I paid money for this. I sat through the whole thing optimistically thinking that perhaps something good is going to happen next... I allowed my college dorm floor to watch it (for which they still want to kill me). The Holiday Special does have some quality to it (mostly the fact that it is Star Wars related), but should not be viewed under any circumstances! Lets face it, many things have historical Star Wars significance like Splinter of the Mind's Eye and those crappy Ewok movies, but I won't subject myself to those (again) and this is by far worse than those.

Imagine, for those of you who have seen Sonny and Cher or other variety shows, that this is a variety show starring the cast of Star Wars along with <shudder> late 70s icons. I hope that Lucas merely gave permission to do this because I'd hate for his reputation to be sullied beyond what inventing Jar-Jar did. For gosh sakes, Chewbacca has a son named Lumpy in this thing! The only thing that could've made this "special" worse is if we had found out that Chewbacca had a speech impediment all this time and all the other Wookies spoke perfectly good English.

Bottom line, this is one horrendous -thing- and should be avoided by all but the most hard core fan (and even then be forwarned). It's really not even worth the first appearance of Boba Fett except to brag to your friends that you have lived through a viewing. I give this craptacular masterpiece a 1 out of 10 (Mind-numbingly bad on the ragnarok47 critique-o-scale).
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Sci Fi & Variety -- the perfect combination
bovril25 May 2000
Perhaps a little before its time, the Star Wars Holiday Special was George Lucas's brave leap away from the tired, Bible story re-hashing of Episode IV into the avant garde universe of variety television. Just as the box office takings for 'American Graffiti' were nothing more than a means to an end as far as 'A New Hope' was concerned, it is said that on the set of Episode IV, Lucas was constantly preoccupied with thoughts of the Holiday Special and was heard to mutter "...it'll all be worth it -- I just have to get through this, then my Holiday Special extravaganza will be a reality."

Literary aficionados maintain that Dostoyevsky cannot truly be appreciated until you read his work in the original Russian, so to with SW: HS. Fortunately, I attended a University which offered "Introduction to Wookie" as a first year course and subsequently I was able to pick up on much of the dialogue as it was originally intended. Subtitles or (God forbid!) dubbing would simply not do justice to George's vision.

Unfairly maligned by critics and fans alike, SW: HS will some day find its place in the history of television as a turning point from which there can be no return. A new yard stick for cinematic art and quality entertainment.
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2/10
I have a bad feeling about this! This TV special kinda sucks.
ironhorse_iv4 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Even as a huge, Star Wars fan, I have to say this TV special is just force-awful! You really have to be a huge Star Wars fan to sit, through this film. Star Wars: Holiday Special is worse than the 1984 & 1985's Ewok's Adventures films: combined. Directed by Steve Binder, the Star Wars Holiday Special was broadcast in its entirety only once, and since then, copies for this film are hard to come. This makes this TV special one of the rarest holiday specials of all time. The movie tells the story of Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) trying to reach home for a holiday, call Life Day. Meanwhile, Chewbecca's family: his father Itchy AKA Attichitcuk (Paul Gale), his wife Malla AKA Mallatobuck (Mickey Morton), and his son Lumpy AKA Lumpawaroo (Patty Maloney) are being harassed by agents of the Galactic Empire, who are searching for members of the Rebel Alliance on the planet. Can Chewbacca make it to the planet and save his family or will the Empire ruin Life Day forever for the Wookie planet? Watch it to find out! Without spoiling too much of it, the TV special moves like an odd variety show, with the Wookie family watching out of place music and comedy sequence on electric devices. It's tries to be clever on mixing it with the main complex plot of the Empire trying to ruin the holiday, but these music acts such as Jefferson Starship 'Light the Sky on Fire' and Bea Arthur 'Good night, but not goodbye" set to the "Cantina Band" theme come off as distracting. It's slows the main plot, way down. I just glad, they are alright songs compare to others like Princess Leia (Carrie Fischer) singing the film's "theme song", set to the music of John Williams' Star Wars theme, near the end of the film. Carrie Fischer can't deliver the high note if she wanted to. Also, why is C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Kevin Baker) suddenly appear, along with Luke (Mark Hamill), and Han (Harrison Ford) in the Tree of Life sequence? Isn't it a bit weird for them to be there, celebrating a Wookie holiday? The creepiest of these badly done translation from Wookie's world to music sequence is the elderly wookie being hook on a mind-hallucination device, portraying his fantasies, which appear to be of a disco diva in the form of Diahann Carroll singing "This Minute Now". It felt like watching soft-core porn. Lumpy makes noises and growls as if he was jerking off. Diahann Carroll flirting with a hairy Bigfoot type alien is just as disturbing. It was really gross. Why is a Wookie being horny over a black singer? Lots of awkward and unearned cross-species affection. Some of the other sequences seem out of place like the cooking show with Chef Gormaanda (Harvey Korman). It was very repeatable and annoying, plus it has nothing to do with the holiday. It felt like nonsense filler. The 'how to' manual for a device that doesn't exist in our world is the worst. I get that, Lumpy need it, to create a translation device that will fool the Imperials into returning to their base by faking their commander's voice, but gees, it was painful to watch with the awful acting by yet again, Harvey Korman as a malfunctioning, incompetent robot. Another thing, odd about the special is the short cartoon sequence in which, the youngest Wookie watch. It's about the adventures of his father, Chewbacca, with his father's friends, Han Solo & Luke Skywalker. The cartoon is famous for introducing the character, Boba Fett (Voiced by Don Francks) that would later appear in the 1980's sequel film, 'The Empire Strikes Back'. By far, the cartoon titled 'The Faithful Wookie' is the greatest thing about the special, but it has some faults. Once again, it has nothing to do with Life Day! It had jarring animation. Characters in the cartoon tend to move in wavy unrealistic awkward motion. The cartoon is also painfully ugly looking. Han Solo looks so horse face. It also felt strange, seeing a Star Wars animation short existing in a Star Wars world. It felt too metafiction. The movie didn't had the best acting. Yes, it had the main cast, but most of them, phone it in. Harrison Ford look like he didn't want to be there. Carrie Fischer look like she was high on cocaine, and Mark Hamill look like a mannequin with all the make-up, he had. Mark Hamill looks plastic due to all the recent surgeries he had, due to the horrible car crash, he had, previous to this taping. It's clear, that the producer didn't want him in many scenes, and try hard to hide his face, through the use of his hair, and smoke. The worst thing about the acting, had to be the Wookies. The first fifteen minutes or so are in Wookiee language. There is way too much moaning and groaning. The special need subtitles, whenever they are on, as you can't tell what's going on, with what they're saying. Looking at their faces, doesn't work because you can't tell the emotional by their awful stiff hairy mask costume. They even reused alien mask from the first film for the Cantina scene. They didn't bother, taking out Greedo (Paul Blake) out of the Mos Eisley Cantina sequence, who die in the first film. Plus, all that singing made the Cantina look weak. The special is very low-budget. I can do without all the matte painting backgrounds and overused of stock footage from the first movie. George Lucas did not have significant involvement with the film's production, and was reportedly unhappy with the results. The Star Wars Holiday Special was critically panned, both by Star Wars fans and the general public. Overall: It's not worth watching even if you're a huge Star Wars fan, but if you do, may the force be with you, because it's really bad.
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3/10
Seven Years Old And Needing My Fix!!
newsjunkie356-111 April 2010
I clearly remember this and how bad it was. Loyal fan that I was, I watched the whole thing. And given the long droughts, see below, between movies for a grade schooler was frustrated it was never aired again. I needed a Star Wars fix even if it was a lousy one.

One thing, however, that needs to be kept in mind, is that in 1978, VCRs had only recently hit the market and Hollywood had yet to release movies on video (and, was, in fact, vigorously attempting to have the recorders banned just as they've done with every advance in recording technology over the last 40 yrs). Shocking as that may seem to those under 30, in those antediluvian days, there was no way to see a movie except in a theater or when it hit Network Movie of the Week night.

Thus, you couldn't simply run out to a store and buy a copy of Star Wars to enjoy at home. And for 7 yr olds having to wait 3 years to see "The Empire Strikes Back" might as well have been 3 decades. (The closest you could get to having a copy of the film was an audio only LP version/8-track tape that was had been heavily edited to fit the time constraints of vinyl. And we played that 8-track until it demagnetized.) So ANY Star Wars related TV show was a God-send. Of course, no one counted on it totally sucking. Which was obvious even to those of us in 3rd grade. (My 4 years old brother was too young to care.) Today, at age 39, I can only laugh when I think about this. I can well-imagine Lucas' embarrassment that this craptastic disaster can't be round-holed.

The thing I've never understood is how he ever allowed it to be broadcast in the first place. Given his famous fastidiousness about tweaking the movies until he gets them "perfect" -- apparently an ever diminishing mirage on the horizon since neither he, nor Spielberg, seem content to leave well-enough alone (see "E.T.").

Did Lucas not bother to screen this thing? It's hard to believe that he did. On the other hand, given some of the absolute garbage he's allowed the Star Wars logo and characters to appear on over the years (merchandise which is estimated to have brought in $13 BILLION and counting and that's NOT adjusted for inflation), maybe this piece of Bantha poodoo is not so surprising after-all.

Still, it would be nice to have a DVD of this, if only for the unintentional hilarity. But Lucas doesn't have much of a sense of humor ("Howard the Duck" anyone?) and the Star Wars franchise has made him a billionaire many times over. Given the fact he's rarely missed an opportunity to capitalize on it, it's more than a little surprising that there hasn't been an official release.

I guess it goes to show that South Park's Matt Stone and Trey Parker have overestimated Lucas' greed. There are places even the great one won't go to pad his bank account.
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Badly misjudged and badly paced show which is rarely entertaining but is frequently painful
bob the moo26 December 2008
It is Life Day on the Wookie home planet but, while his father, wife and child are all at home, Chewbacca is nowhere to be found. The family contact Luke and princess Leia to try and track him down, only to find that they are stuck in space, battling clips from the original Star Wars movie as part of an Imperial attempt to capture them. Everyone was join forces to help battle the Empire and help Chewie reach his family in time.

There are two extreme schools of thought on this holiday special. The first defends it, reminding us it was all for children and claiming that those who think it was rubbish are only being revisionist and looking at this piece of light entertainment through the eyes of people who see Star Wars as a massive saga, which it has become. The second line goes more like how awful the whole thing is and what a travesty to the series of films it is and thank God it has been nearly wiped out. Obviously it has a cult appeal and many people have seen it since its screening as part of a "so bad its good" type curiosity. An article in Empire Magazine reminded me of the existence of this film and, as a sort of gift, someone found it for me and gave me an (admittedly ropey) copy. The plot implies tensions and standoffs between the Rebellion and the Empire, with the ultimate message of family being the core of the piece. Or at least that was the intension I guess.

What actually happens is that the special doesn't have the material or the budget to fill all this time and we get lots of filler and a glacial pace that makes things that are already not that good, just that bit more painful to sit through. In theory perhaps the idea is a good one but the sense of how cheap it is, combined with the filler just gives the whole thing a bad air. In terms of pace, it is painful as scenes crawl by with little dialogue (and not just the ones with Wookie dialogue), characters seem to be "hanging around" even though they are the focus of the shot and a plot that simply doesn't have enough action to fill the run time.

So what happens? Well the first thing you realise is that each scene will be dragged out longer than it should be – so straight away, scenes that are "necessary" for the "story" to move forward are giving you the impression that time is being filled and filled in stupid ways such as lingering over lines, standing around etc. The more obvious filler are the segments chosen to make up the "entertainment". These include a holographic circus act (the type you quickly walk past on the street), a Golden Girl singing in a bar, Jefferson Aeroplane, Harvey Korman doing TV sketches and other sections that are equally (a) bad, (b) stretched or (c) both. My personal favourite is when the father Wookie gets a new virtual reality chair that appears to take him into some sort of virtual flirt chatroom where Diahann Carroll talks dirty at him. From this part I learnt two things. Firstly, Diahann Carroll has not always been old and was once very sexy. Secondly, whoever was in charge of this special had really bad judgement and was so desperate to fill the time that any ideas put on the table were not discussed so much as immediately added. The cartoon section is the only bit of interest because it does have a bit of a story and it does introduce Fett into the series – shame it is so short.

With weak material stretched, the cast cannot do much about it even though most of them do their best to make it "fun" for the viewers by putting on big smiles and being "fun". The Wookies are OK in my view, despite the budget limitations on their outfits. Hamill's car accident means he is a nightmarish vision of a plastic world in his heavy makeup. Ford looks like a man with a gun to his head and Fisher has to deliver a terrible song at the end. Spare a thought for the other entertainers though, most of whom are weak. Arthur is poor, Korman has nothing to work with and too much time to fill while Carney is just a bit creepy in his low-cut shirt. Carroll is hot but her bit just feels totally out of place (whereas the other bits are only slightly out of place).

It is a terrible mess of a show and t is hard to see any single explanation change my mind. OK it was the 1970's; but I have seen many good things from the period – could this not have been one of them? OK it was for kids; but what about the sluggish pace, misjudged sexual asides and adult light entertainment makes it therefore "good" for kids? Lucas let go of this project to a certain extent and trusted others and this was the result. Later he would be far too close and controlling of the newest films – so perhaps one can trace that back to this special? That's a stretch (to blame Jar-Jar on this special) but regardless, this is indeed a badly misjudged and badly paced show which is rarely entertaining but is frequently painful.
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1/10
Bad childhood memories
BradleyIKB527 June 2007
I remember seeing Star Wars in the theater, I was FIRST of all my friends. I was 11 at the time, which meant I was ahead of the curve. So I became a Star Wars nut. It was OK then, you weren't considered a nerd. Had the cation figures, the trading cards, books, you name it I had it. Then came the "Star Wars Holiday Special" Got all excited sat down with my snacks (it was chips & soda night) and watched the lamest piece of junk I ever saw. Even at 11 years-old I knew this was an embarrassment. My friends and I never spoke of the St*r W*rs Holiday special, couldn't believe what terrible show came from such a classic movie. I know there is a bootleg copy floating around out there. I have no interest seeing it.
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1/10
Don't Watch It !!!
Ryan2 October 2006
This movie is bad. We were all excited because we found a copy of the holiday special, we were so wrong. This special makes Episodes I and II look good. Lucas must have been on some high to come up with this, about the same level of when editing the special editions. Oh, and I really hope Williams sued after this TV show. They made a mockery of his music. Who ever was in charge of the music for this special should be hunted out and exterminated. Do what must be done. Do not hesitate. Show no mercy. I watched it in hope of hearing some awesome Vader lines, he was in the movie for only a few seconds though. And the part of the movie that could have been good was done as a cartoon so they didn't have to create any special effects. Cheap bastards, they spent all their money on music videos, which you would have to be high to understand.
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Reminds me of The Ring..
Speedy_Lube22 December 2003
..why?

This is a bootleg video that has to be seen to understand. It has become a sort of urban legend. A lot of people try not to see it. But you will see it. Luca$ wouldn't dare bring up the issue of pirating it, for fear it may gain more noteriety.

And when you watch it you have this conflicted feeling that you will either die or just brush it off as a bad joke.

You have to make someone else watch it to cleanse yourself of the filthiness too. It's like when you are collecting really weird fetish porn and someone finds it and you say "Hey look at this hilarious website I found!" No one will believe you had it to laugh at. Unless you get to them first. So before anyone finds out you have it or have seen it, explain to them the proper context, and that while you may own a copy of this film, you do not necessarily condone the views expressed in it.

On a side note, this film should be used as retaliation for the prequels being so horrible.
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