While certainly not the smartest or wittiest thing Family Guy has done, the first Star Wars special was nothing short of a treat for fans of both the animated series and the legendary sci-fi movies. So it’s no wonder that the journey continued with the second Family Guy installment, Something, Something, Something, Dark Side which follows right on the heels of another popular “adult cartoon,” Robot Chicken, who also recently had a second Star Wars special a few months back. And yes, once again, Family Guy references that production…with great subtlety (but not really).
The story of The Empire Strikes Back is retold. Darth Vader (Stewie) is hunting the rebel Luke Skywalker (Chris) and his troops relentlessly across the galaxy. On the ice planet Hoth, Luke has a vision of his late mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi (Herbert), telling him to go to the Dagobah system to learn the ways of the Force under Jedi Master Yoda (Carl). Meanwhile Princess Leia (Lois) finds herself taking a shine to the scruffy pilot Han Solo (Peter) and, against all odds, the two soon fall in love. But an encounter with Han’s old friend Lando Calrissian (Mort) lands them in the clutches of the Empire. Envisioning this, Luke chooses to forgo his Jedi training to save his friends. It all comes to a head in a climactic confrontation with Darth Vader himself…
While I had issues with the first Family Guy Star Wars parody (mainly with Obi-Wan…that dance number was just stupid), overall I enjoyed it. As a huge fan of Star Wars, it’s easy for me to laugh at all the jokes and pick up on the tiny references made in parodies like this, but there was something that just wasn’t really all that subtle about this second installment. I enjoyed it, of course, but I found myself laughing a lot less than I wanted to. Once again jokes just fell flat or didn’t work at all and as a result I just got tired of it by the time it ended (and it’s only fifty-four minutes long).
But that’s the very nature of Family Guy and one of the reasons I don’t watch the series on a regular basis. Just about the only saving grace that these Star Wars parodies keep us from are the incessant cut-a-ways that plague the animated series itself. But When we lose those we get some incredibly stupid jokes in their place and found myself waiting for something better to laugh at while I waited for a particularly bad or unfunny joke to run its course.
There were some jokes that really flew, such as the spontaneously racist jokes (the one about a “nerf herder” and then some other one that Brian told in the cockpit of the Falcon), but overall this “special” didn’t feel very original. It felt like any other episode of Family Guy, as it took more pride in referencing itself than it did the movie it was trying to parody. Only a few times were the actual films brought into question (although that point about Lando wearing Han’s clothes was really fantastic) and everything else was just a straight up adaptation or something completely unrelated to the saga. Of course that’s the problem when you have fictional characters playing other fictional characters…they have too many personas to work with then.
There’s still a lot to enjoy about this film (particularly Yoda’s introduction), but I found myself laughing more in the beginning than in the end (the AT-AT walker jokes were surprisingly plentiful…and all pretty hilarious). The film also had a tendency to wear out the jokes it created (particularly the Wampa bit—I loved the intro, but the follow-up was…well, a waste of time), but that’s nothing new to the Family Guy series either. I really want to enjoy this series as when it’s funny it will bring you to tears…but there’s such an over-abundance of jokes that just don’t work that you can’t help but moan in despair.
Overall if you’re a fan of either series you’ll still enjoy this. But be warned that the flaws of Family Guy are fully present in this production, so don’t expect to laugh yourself silly as you did with Blue Harvest. Recommended for fans, otherwise a Rental.
Fox brings Something, Something, Something, Dark Side to DVD and Blu-ray, although those who pick up the Blu-ray edition might be a bit disappointed. The disc itself arrives in a standard elite two-disc Blu-ray case and includes a Digital Copy as the second disc. Inserts include a code for the digital copy and a two-page advert for various Family Guy related stuff. Also included is an embossed foil reflective slipcover, which looks really, really cool…definitely jumps out at you off the shelf.
The transfer, however, is where people will likely be disappointed. The AVC (@33mbps) encoded transfer is flawless, granted, and the animation looks simply jaw-dropping on an HD set. But, as with all Family Guy productions, this is in fullscreen. Why? I’ve no clue. It’s a real shame, as some of the animated sequences are done completely as a homage to the original film, as they often serve no purpose to the story. The Vader/Luke battle especially looks fantastic, with all the little lights and whatnot inside the chamber executed in perfect detail. But…it’s all in full screen so you can’t fill your set with the beautiful image, only a lonely square in the center. Quite a bummer. Audio is a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix and although there’s action, it’s mostly front focused. There is some directional ploys used with dialogue and whatnot, but I really didn’t feel the subwoofer all too often.
Audio Commentary by Executive Producers Seth MacFarlane, Mark Hentemann and David A. Goodman, Writer Kirker Butler, Director Dominic Polcino and Actor Seth Green
Table Read (Acts 1 and 2) (49:27, 1080i)
Family Guy Fact-Ups
Behind-The-Scenes Featurette – “The Darkside of Poster Art” (9:58, 1080i)
Animatics (6:36, 1080i)
Episode VI: We Have a Bad Feeling About This Table Read Sneak Peek (2:26, 1080i)
There’s actually not a whole lot here. The commentary is an awesome bonus, however, so that was cool to see. Table read was entertaining as well, though it’s kind of funny that the act I enjoyed the least, act three, wasn’t even included in the table read. Oh well. The fact-ups are interesting and run over the entire film itself and the sneak peek at the next film looks promising…but then again the first act of this film was promising too, so who knows.
Overall a Recommended set for the fans.
Family Guy – Something, Something, Something, Dark Side is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.