Fox // 2009 // 54 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // December 26th, 2009
Lois as Princess Leia: "We're gonna get pulverized out here!"
Peter as Han Solo: "Look, we got four or five of the main characters on this ship. I think we'll be fine."
Family Guy has long confused me. The series has immensely talented writers, animators, and voice actors, but often goes more than a bit too far to deliver cheap jokes. Many might argue The Simpsons is no less inappropriate or offensive, but there seems to be a more innocent spirit behind Matt Groening's team. That's the reason I don't bother watching Family Guy on a more regular basis. For every brilliant nod to pop culture that makes me smile or laugh out loud, there are too many vulgar moments to keep me from enjoying a full episode. Series creator and voice actor Seth MacFarlane is an extremely talented guy, so it's disappointing that he wastes his talent trying to shock the audience and censors. It's almost as if he has something to prove. But he did that long ago, as Family Guy's longevity clearly demonstrates.
Being a Star Wars fan, I'm willing to take the good and the bad in anything related to these worlds and characters created by George Lucas. I even found things to enjoy in the prequel films. So when Family Guy serves up a Star Wars-themed episode, I'm more than happy to set aside my reservations.
As long time Star Wars fans, MacFarlane and Robot Chicken co-creator Seth Green have been having a friendly competition since 2007, when Green's camp was first out of the gate with their tribute episode titled simply Robot Chicken Star Wars. MacFarlane answered back with Family Guy: Blue Harvest, going so far as to take shots at each other through their characters of Peter and Chris Griffin. MacFarlane may now have pulled into the lead, with the release of Something, Something, Something, Dark Side and the announcement of a Return of the Jedi tribute currently in production.
If you're as familiar with Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back as I am, you'll likely find yourself laughing out loud more than once. The Family Guy writers and actors are at the top of their game here, reenacting famous scenes with familiar dialog, accompanied by John Williams' score and Ben Burtt's now iconic sound effects. When they stick to the source material, making good-hearted fun of plot holes and questions that have been on many fan's minds for years, Something, Dark Side is a real joy. That said -- and I can't stress this enough -- this release is not for children. Sure, there are some innocent fart jokes and other junior high humor to elicit chuckles, but when the material crosses the line into more coarse profanity, vulgar sexuality, racism, and other in-your-face territory, the show lost me. There's plenty of content here you're not going to want to explain to your children.
It's too bad, because Something, Dark Side is an audio and video delight on Blu-ray. The colors are vivid, the contrast is strong and the level of detail will likely have you saying "wow," especially during sequences when the animators must have used a process similar to rotoscoping to faithfully reproduce Empire scenes. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix is a perfect match, reproducing the score, effects, and voice acting with clarity and precision, while generating a immersive experience for an animated presentation. Kudos to Fox for delivering a solid hi-def presentation on what is essentially a 54 minute cartoon.
The special features include a commentary with MacFarlane and producers Mark Hentemann and David Goodman, writer Kirker Butler, director Dominic Polcino, and actor Seth Green. It's clear these guys work closely together and get along very well, but as far as learning anything very valuable about the production? Not so much. Polcino provides an additional short commentary track over seven side-by-side comparisons of early animatics versus final shots that appeared in the feature.
"Family Guy Fact-Ups" show Pop-Up Video-style facts and trivia as the feature runs. "The Dark Side of Poster Art" is only mildly interesting, as we learn how the Something, Dark Side poster was hand painted and designed to mirror the composition of the now iconic poster for The Empire Strikes Back. Fans of MacFarlane's unique take on the Star Wars universe will be delighted by a sneak peek at the table read for the forthcoming Family Guy Episode VI: We Have a Bad Feeling About This. A digital copy of the feature is also included on a second disc.
Is Family Guy: Something, Something, Something Dark Side funny? No question. Is it appropriate for all viewers? Not a chance. But it has been made for them with love, and odds are that Family Guy fans are going to love this release. Not guilty.
Review content copyright © 2009 Kent Dixon; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 54 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Trivia Track
* Sneak Peek
* Official Site