Awfully Good: The Star Wars Holiday Special + Santa Claus: The Movie (Video)
This week is all about Christmas and STAR WARS. If only there was something that combined the two…
The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)
Director: Steve Binder
Stars: Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Assorted Wookiees
Chewbacca must escape two Imperial Star Destroyers in order to get home alive to celebrate Life Day with his worried family. But until then, watch these comedy skits and musical numbers!
Much has been said about the STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL, the TV event so famously terrible its existence has been banished to farthest reaches of the Outer Rim. Perhaps George Lucas didn't feel the need to try all that hard with the prequels since he knew that no matter what he threw against that green screen, it could never be as bad as a sappy family melodrama/variety show that outwardly embarrassed all your favorite characters from A NEW HOPE. While contractually forcing your cast to slum it on television was probably never a good idea, there was at least an opportunity to explore what these heroes did in between their filmed adventures. But apparently the answer to that is "a bunch of equally boring/disturbing stuff we never needed to know."
Princess Leia's song "Contractually Obligated Holiday" was as heartwarming as it was mandatory.
The problem is the creators built this two-hour television movie around Chewbacca, the one character you can't understand, and whose equally hairy and incomprehensible family is absolutely horrifying. Each of them could easily be monsters in a horror movie, especially the grandfather whose mask I swear I actually saw in a killer sasquatch flick. Once you get past their ghastly appearance, you still have to suffer through extended scenes comprised entirely of painful Wookiee conversation. The film also oddly forces them in to stereotypically Earthling behavior, as if Wookiees are incapable of having their own culture. The mom watches Intergalactic Food Network and cooks in the kitchen while wearing an apron. (She also takes the apron off at one point, which means I guess she's naked for the rest of the episode.) The grandpa is a grumpy pervert who watches porn in front of his family. (More on this later.) And the son plays video games and wants to watch TV instead of doing his chores. Also, let's not forget, the fact that Chewbacca has a son means you have to consider the idea of two Wookiees who look exactly like each other having sweaty, hairy sex.
"For Christmas, I want to eat your soul."
Chewbacca's family is comprised of his wife Mallatobuck, son Lumpawarrump and father Attichitcuk. Fortunately, everyone goes by nicknames, since at no point is Harrison Ford going to say the word "Lumpawarrump." Unfortunately, this means that the family—Chewie, Lumpy and Itchy—is comprised of a group of rejected dwarves from SNOW WHITE. The film centers on the extended family on Kashyyyk as they impatiently wait for Chewbacca and Han Solo to return home in time for Life Day. If you're wondering how they can turn that central premise in to a variety show, the answer is in the most forced (no pun intended) way possible. Most of the "acts" are random things Chewbacca's family watches on TV, holodecks or virtual reality equipment. So prepare yourself for two hours of watching Wookiees watch television!
"WHO IS YOUR GOD NOW?!"
Here are some of the bizarre highlights:
- Lumpy watches a group of miniature holographic circus performers in a sequence that feels like a bad acid trip and goes on for a million parsecs.
I'm pretty sure this is how Mark Hamill got his gig as the Joker.
- Mrs. Chewbacca gets a video call from R2-D2 and Luke Skywalker, who assures her that Chewie is fine and hasn't been murdered by Imperial guards. (Mark Hamill is wearing so much makeup in this scene you have to wonder what Luke and R2 are doing in their alone time.) Later, she receives another transmission from Princess Leia and C-3PO, who also promises the wife that her husband isn't lying dead in a space ditch somewhere. Carrie Fisher may or may not be completely high during this segment.
I'm not sure exactly which alien race farts ghost versions of itself, but apparently that's what Wookiees are into.
- Grandpa Itchy puts on what can only be described as a virtual reality cybersex machine. There is no other way this can be taken. Watch as Chewbacca's father moans in pleasure as singer/actress Diahann Carroll brings his seductive fantasy to life by saying things like: "Experience me. I am your pleasure. Enjoy me. This is our moment. Let's turn our moment in to an eternity." She then breaks in to a musical number. This all really happens.
I'm pretty sure this is how Paula Deen got her gig as Paula Deen.
- BLAZING SADDLES' Harvey Korman dons alien drag as the four-armed host of an intergalactic cooking show. He makes a dish called Bantha Surprise and dances provocatively as Chewbacca's wife watches on. Korman also returns two more times in the special, playing a malfunctioning robot and then a creepy alien who unsuccessfully tries to bed Bea Arthur.
- The Honeymooners' Art Carney plays a trader and friend of the family who gives Chewie's wife presents in exchange for kisses. Allegedly, this character was originally supposed to be Lando Calrissian before Lucas rightfully decided on Billy Dee Williams.
It was obvious when everyone had gotten in to Carrie Fisher's stash.
- Lumpy watches a Star Wars cartoon featuring his dad and friends. Wait,what?! So within their universe, they've made an animated series about the Rebel Alliance and they're broadcasting it to the galaxy? Aside from making negative levels of sense, this cartoon is also famous for introducing the character of Boba Fett for the first time. Except in this incarnation, Boba Fett rides a penis dinosaur and helps our heroes hunt down a magical talisman that makes people sleepy.
- Stormtroopers come to the house to search for rebel scum and Art Carney distracts them by playing a holographic Jefferson Starship concert. I know the Empire is evil, but even they don't deserve that kind of torture.
The Orgy at Mos Eisley would not soon be forgotten.
- Golden Girls' star Bea Arthur shows up as a bartender at the cantina on Mos Eisley. I know what you're thinking as soon as I said "Bea Arthur," but no, this aired on CBS so sadly there is no nudity. But she does sing a song about trying to get people to go home as the bar closes and it's not "Closing Time" by Semisonic.
You can even see the regret on the character with non-human faces.
Eventually one of the Stormtroopers figures out the family are rebel sympathizers, but it's okay because Chewbacca and Han Solo show up in the nick of time and murder him. We then finally figure out what the hell Life Day is—it's a cult! All the Wookiees grab a magical orb, put on creepy red robes and walk through outer space itself before gathering at the Tree of Life for some strange religious ceremony. And even though this is presumably something just for Wookiees, Leia, Han, Luke and the droids all randomly show up so a clearly stoned Carrie Fisher can make a speech and sing a song about the holidays as she rubs up on Chewbacca in front of his wife.
Merry Christmas from the Dark Side!
A couple examples of Wookie conversation, plus a truly embarrassed Harrison Ford, Luke Skywalker and Carrie Fisher have to deliver heartfelt holiday messages.
Some of the special's most bizarre moments, including a psychedelic mini circus, Art Carney demanding a Wookiee kiss, Chewbacca's father's cybersex session and of course Bea Arthu's song and dance number. (I'm sorry.)
If Wookiees counted, this would be NC-17.
Take a shot or drink every time:
- Someone wishes another character a happy Life Day
- The special clearly reuses footage from A NEW HOPE
- Malla looks at a picture of Chewbacca
- Lumpy is happy
- Lumpy is sad or upset
- Boba Fett abuses an animal
- Harvey Korman plays a different character
Double shot if:
- You hear a Wilhelm scream
Thanks to Danielle for suggesting this week's movie!
Hang on, kids, we've got one more present under the tree for ya! Hop in the sleigh and join us for Jesse Shade's Awfully Good Movies video column, which brings the holiday cheer with SANTA CLAUS: THE MOVIE, starring Dudley Moore and John Lithgow!
|Extra Tidbit:||George Lucas once said, "If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every bootlegged copy of that program and smash it."|