Can you ever take a holiday from being a hero?
That’s the question topmost on Rose Tico’s (Kelly Marie Tran) mind when everyone, and by everyone we mean a phalanx of Star Wars: Skywalker Saga including Finn (Omar Miller), Poe (Jake Green), Rey (Helen Sadler), R2-D2, C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and Chewbacca, and naturally Rose too of course, head off for a holiday onboard the spaceliner, The Halcyon where a holovid Lando Calrissian, wearing his trademark cape which he notes are always in fashion, is there to greet them.
Well, them, and a whole lot of other post-fall of the Empire holidaymakers who seem to be able to relax a whole lot better than the heroes in their midst, who might be in special called LEGO Star Wars: Summer Vacation but who don’t seem quite able to grasp the definition of the final word.
Finn for instance, may the Force bless him, is a little uptight, worried that this is the last time he will be with his friends before they go their separate ways, and wanting so badly for them to spend one last special break away together.
But, alas, between Poe going all Super Tourist and wanting to do EVERY activity onboard – yep, we’ve all been on holiday with someone like that and it’s not fun; holidaying with a Type A is best avoided – and everyone else wanting some alone time (when else is Rey going to catch up on her Jedi manual reading?), Finn is left all alone, his holiday plans of cosy friendly togetherness gone out the nearest airlock.
As the Halcyon departs Chandrilla, Finn begins to wonder if Rose is right and whether heroes, especially the kind that save the galaxy repeatedly and who are always ON, can ever really kick back and simply watch the stars go by what you have to hope are super-reinforced portholes.
If this is all very down and existential, well, it kind of is at first, giving LEGO Star Wars: Summer Vacation a little bit more of a downer vibe than your typical manic LEGO animated special outing which are usually flying quips and surreally wacky moments every 2.2 nanoseconds.
It’s not that this highly amusing special doesn’t have them – Poe in his frenzy to do it all is a hoot and joke of special has to go to the moment when Finn goes to the bar and is greeted by a droid who introduces himself as BVRG (get it?), Human Cyborg Libations (Haha, oh go on C-3PO that’s funny!) – but it tends to the more serious side of things as much as it lets its Force-filled freak flag fly.
Where the fun really begins is when Finn is visited by a series of ghosts, A Christmas Carol-like including Obi-Wan Kenobi (Jamie Arnold Taylor), Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter) and Leia & Han (Shelby Young and Ross Marquand respectively), all of whom have a particular perspective on how to really chill the Force out on a holiday.
Everyone is amused that Obi-Wan is actually capable of relaxing – well save for Obi-Wan himself but then his tale of stealing back Coaxium at Jabba the Hutt’s annual birthday BBQ with a rebel operative named Colvett Valeria (Yvette Nicole-Brown) doesn’t exactly scream kicking back – but that recurring gag aside, each of them have salient tales to tell about the importance of enjoying your vacation while you can, finding your bliss and losing yourself in the moment.
What makes all these sagely introspective life lessons so funny is that each of them are drawn from events that don’t suggest relaxing in any reasonable definition of the word, and all of them take place on planets well known to Star Wars aficionados such as Tatooine, Scarif (back when it was a beach resort planet and not a place that Rebels stealing Death Star plans go to die) and the moon of Endor where the Ewoks aren’t all that excited about sharing their planet with a resort developer.
The in-jokes fly and fast, like an X-Wing on a strafing run and there are more than enough giggles to go around.
Unfortunately, fun though it is, LEGO Star Wars: Summer Vacation is one of the weaker entries in the LEGO Star Wars canon; that’s not to say it isn’t full of a lot of hilarious off-the-wall storytelling shenanigans, because it is but it doesn’t feel as punchily manic or full-bore loopy as previous efforts, not quite balancing the serious and the silly as adroitly as these specials usually do.
Still, there are enough references and self-deprecatory asides about Star Wars mythology to please any and long-term fans, and if the idea of the Emperor (Trevor Devall) and Darth Vader (Matt Sloan getting on down at a Scarif beach party doesn’t amuse the hell out of you – they are solely there to win a beach contest and do it with their usual fascist zeal but the Emperor has sunscreen on and Darth is wearing a beach hat! FUN! – then consider yourself well and truly dead.
And, of course, when the gang realise they need to get together and holiday because Finn was right, the lesson you learn isn’t quite the one you’re expecting, underscoring the ability of LEGO Star Wars specials such as this one, to duck when you think they are hellbent on weaving.
The fun as always with specials like LEGO Star Wars: Summer Vacation is that they take a very serious franchise, Han Solo’s quips and C-3PO’s angsty utterances aside which are never NOT funny, and let it have its own narrative holiday, injecting silliness into some fairly intense proceedings and that’s a relief when you’re expected to take the franchise’s storytelling very seriously most of the time.
Which is precisely what the heroes of our tale have had to do through countless films and since this is a story about going on vacation, it’s good that they do learn how to chill (BB-8 in a head wraparound towel with a cucumber slice over his eye socket is a visual joy) and be together in a way that involves not so many hearted gun battles and far more galactic cocktails.
LEGO Star Wars: Summer Vacation may not be the funnest special of its kind to emerge from hyperspace but it is a giddy, hilarious joy that reminds us, and in our 21st century digital work frenzy, we sorely need reminding, that relaxing is for everyone, even heroes, and that being with your friends and having those memories to fall back on when you’re apart, is better than all the victories over evil you can manage.
Well, maybe …