(director/writer: Jeremy Coon, Steve Kozak; cinematographers: Quinn Hester, Jay P. Morgan, Tim Irwin; editor: Jeremy Coon; music: Karl Preusser; cast: Seth Green, Paul Sheer, Taran Killem, Donny Osmond, Weird Al Yancovic, Gilbert Gottfried, Bob Mackie; Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Kyle Newman, Jeremy Coon, Steve Kozak; Giant Pictures; 2023)

“Over the years most of those in the documentary were forever embarrassed by their appearance in it.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The little known documentary of The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978) was produced in the interim after the original Star Wars (1977) came out and the Star Wars second film The Empire Strikes Back (1980), trying to cash in on the popular film’s success. The co-directors and co-writers Jeremy Coon (“Raiders!”) and Steve Kozak, competently examine the cultural phenomenon of the Star Wars film. That it turned out to be a bad film that was hilarious and ridiculous, was not their intention. 

The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978) was a campy documentary trying to explain how the film changed the way Hollywood would make films in the future. Despite its silliness the legendary documentary had more to say about the innovative film that caught the film’s fanboys interest for the few who saw it.

Though the Star Wars director George Lucas refused to acknowledge the special after hating it so much that he tried making it disappear, as he bought up all the copies he could so it could never go public. But a few copies got out and were seen, and the doc became a pop culture phenomenon to the few who saw it.

The doc weirdly had talking heads and its main cast members participate, such as–Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew and characters like R2D2, C3P0 and Darth Vader. They were cast in a variety show with song and dance numbers set around the Mos Eisley cantina, along with a series of extended scenes with Chewbacca’s family back on his home planet.

Also turning up in the special were such notables as Gilbert Gottfried, ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, Bobcat Goldthwait, Seth Green, Kevin Smith.

Over the years most of those in the documentary were forever embarrassed by their appearance in it and cringed talking about it in interviews.
A few involved however are fine with their appearance in it, such as the fashion designer Bob Mackie, the singer Donny Osmond, the giddy stagehands happy to be in any film, and some who worked on the special telling us some of the film’s aims.

One of the crazy bits had the late Harvey Korman playing a four-armed alien in drag doing a cooking show.

This unpolished doc was put together from an assortment of video cassettes and archival appearances, whereby some in Hollywood can pleasingly point out the unauthorized special was a debacle but could be for some fanboys a cherished relic.

It played at the SXSW Film Festival.