Retro Movie Review: The Star Wars Holiday Special

On November 17, 1978, back when Star Wars was only a single film, CBS aired a made-for-TV “movie” entitled the Star Wars Holiday Special. This movie was never rebroadcast and has never been officially released on video (except for a short cartoon segment introducing Boba Fett). However, you can see it by piecing together bits of VHS recordings from YouTube…if you dare.

I recently worked up the nerve to watch the Star Wars Holiday Special, and I can safely say it is the worst movie I have ever seen. Yes, worse than Battlefield Earth. Even worse than SyFy Channel B-movies. It’s so bad it blows right past So Bad It’s Good and becomes painful to watch. Even George Lucas doesn’t like it, and he disavows involvement in its production (although that claim is disputed). It’s so bad that it took me a whole day to get through it because I could only take about ten minutes at a time.

The plot of the movie involves Han Solo and Chewbacca trying to get past the Imperial patrols to get Chewie home to his family in time for Life Day, which seems to be the Star Wars Christmas. However, in practice, the movie is actually a glorified variety show, with Bea Arthur and other, lesser-known artists doing musical numbers for most of the running time.

But even that might–might–be forgivable if it weren’t just so badly done. Even with the original film’s actors involved, the whole thing looks and feels like it was made by amateur high school students. (And I’ve been in some of those, so I know.) There are long stretches with no dialogue besides Wookie grunting, and the parts that were intelligible mostly felt like they weren’t really trying. And the one part of the “movie” that is considered redeemable, the Boba Fett cartoon, is poorly written, poorly animated, and feels more like an episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series than anything else. It’s really that bad.

My rating–and I never thought I’d have cause to say this–is 0 out of 5.

About Alex R. Howe

I'm a full-time astrophysicist and a part-time science fiction writer.
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