LEGO adaptations have been breathing new life into the Star Wars franchise for nearly two decades, and LEGO Star Wars Summer Vacation is a lovely way to carry on the tradition. The project is the latest in a yearly string of comedic animated short films that began with 2020’s The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special, and is the kind of delightful storytelling that makes a person hope Lucasfilm never stops producing this joy-inducing series. Summer Vacation has something for everyone, as long as they’re open to it, and an almost weirdly good handle on what specifically makes the world of Star Wars and all its characters so great. It also may be a bit deeper than its wacky exterior implies.
Maybe the nicest aspect of the LEGO Star Wars shorts are their place outside of the franchise canon. Most Lucasfilm content these days, whether it be on the big screen or on Disney+, finds itself almost immediately bogged down by questions of legitimacy. Internet arguments break out over the most minute choices and details, and the hostility often spills over into the real world. It can make it hard to simply enjoy what one enjoys, with the constant threat of having to defend an opinion looming around every corner. With Summer Vacation, there is no such stress. It’s just good vibes from beginning to end. The movie’s existence within a separate, goofier, brick-filled timeline allows the story to be as silly as it wants without breaking any unwritten rules of the fictional universe it takes place in. It’s frankly sort of freeing, and truthfully, that may be exactly what Summer Vacation is all about.
In the film, which is hypothetically set after the events of Star Wars Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker, Finn takes his friends on a galactic cruise for one last group expedition before everyone goes their separate ways. He’s accompanied by the likes of Rey, Poe, Rose, Chewbacca, R2-D2, C-3PO, and BB-8, and is quickly dismayed when nobody seems to understand the point of their time away from saving the galaxy. From there, Finn encounters a few familiar Force Ghosts who use tales from past vacations as a way to explain that, sometimes, you have to let go of expectations if you really want to enjoy yourself. This is maybe not a purposeful allegory to the way a lot of people now consume media, but it works all the same. If a person can let go of preconceived notions, and the seriousness that can come with them, then the adventure will be better for it. To simplify – the journey is not about anything, it’s all about the journey.
One could say this sounds too spiritual for a children’s program, but to be fair, George Lucas has always said Star Wars is for kids, and those movies have more spiritual implications than any other blockbuster franchise there is. Thematically speaking, Summer Vacation is just as valid as any other installment in Lucasfilm’s vast catalog. It’s potentially even better, because, unlike prior Star Wars projects, this one is unafraid to show Darth Vader in a full-body swimsuit. Yes, as previously mentioned, Summer Vacation is also truly great at just being a fun time. Between the life lessons are a boatload of self-deprecating franchise jokes and insanely accurate character bits. In the same way this story understands what makes Star Wars what it is, it firmly doubles down on what fans love about their favorite protagonists. There are also references and plot points from every Star Wars timetable, except the ongoing High Republic line, that include both fairly obscure Clone Wars-era name drops and instantly recognizable Mandalorian-era needle drops.
This is all a roundabout way to say LEGO Star Wars Summer Vacation is not only fun for the whole family, but a fantastic little chapter of storytelling as well. It’s every bit as zany as oner might expect, if not more endearing than they signed up for. A nice, beach-side breeze of fresh air for a hot, hot season. Plus, Weird Al Yankovic sings an original song in the middle of it, so it’s worth watching by default.