Fox // 2005 // 88 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // September 12th, 2005
Lois Griffin: [drunkenly] When I heard...when I heard...that we were going to be in a movie, I was like, "F -- k yeah!"
Here comes a straight-to-DVD Family Guy movie that will also air as three episodes in the new season. There are plenty of trademark Family Guy short cut-away gags, and a whole gaggle of celebrity cameos. Drew Barrymore (E.T.), the cast of Beverly Hills 90210, Adam West (Batman) and Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile) are present, just to name a few. It features all your favorites from the series, including quite a few surprise cameos scattered throughout the movie. It certainly feels like Family Guy, but is that enough to warrant a DVD release?
At first glance, Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story looks like it could just be another cash grab from Fox (a company that likes to sell a lot of DVDs, especially when they are of a hit animated show that has broken sales records previously). I had to ask myself, "Should I really get this when I know it will air on TV, and also be part of a season set down the road?" Even after watching the DVD, I'm still not sure what the ultimate answer should be. Best to boil it down to this: if you're a rabid fan, you'll buy Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story no matter what, and if you aren't more than a casual watcher of Family Guy, you might be fine catching the shows as they air.
The three episodes are strung together as a movie that is all about Stewie, the ambitious verbose infant with a taste for world domination and nefarious plots to kill his mother. Stewie's life seems to be troubled as he begins to take swimming lessons, and finds he's not up to snuff with the other babies. Life seems bleak for the psychotic tyke -- and then he spots an adult man on a television news report who looks exactly like him. Is this Stewie's real father, or just a well spoken man from San Francisco who likes to shop for shoes? Brian and Stewie set off on a cross-country road trip from Rhode Island to California to find out; the answer to the mystery is a little more complicated than either of them expect.
The portion of Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story which presents the episodes isn't any more ambitious than the usual shows of Family Guy airing on Fox. That's the rub. I was hoping for something more complicated, like what the South Park guys did with their big screen musical comedy. Even without credits, you can easily spot where each episode begins and ends. They're certainly fine shows, but the scope feels smaller, when fans were hoping to see some more creative lunacy with a longer format and no censors. This main story is something you can see on television, which takes some of the fun out of the DVD. But never fear, because the creator of the show is a little more savvy than that. To tempt you beyond just packaging three television episodes together, Seth McFarlane has added 10 minutes of scenes at the start and end of the feature which have the characters attending a premiere of the movie. It's in these scenes that the cast cuts loose with some choice expletives and rather funny tales of what they did while the show was canceled. These are the parts of the movie that you won't see on television anytime soon. They are the main draw here, and the best reason to purchase Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story. The "movie premiere" vignette is crude and really f -- ing funny. I just wish it was a little longer.
The commentary on the DVD is another reason to consider picking up this title. It starts off with just Seth McFarlane and a couple of writers, but as each part progresses they add more and more people from the cast and staff. By the end of the track you have all the voice actors and writers chiming in on the show with raucous abandon. It's a good track that imparts a lot of trivia about the show, and how they produce it these days with the help of a Korean animation house which apparently has no idea what they are working on. Obviously this is a group of creative people who like working together, and they relish the chance to share their love of the show with the fans. The rest of the extras are just a few bones thrown on the disc to round out the release. There are animatic comparisons to the final movie, and a look at American Dad.
The transfer is a big improvement over the first set of episodes released on DVD. Seems the animators have learned to use thicker lines for Family Guy, and it looks more solid as a result. There is no shimmering on the horizontal lines, and it looks quite clean. Colors are vibrant, and the show looks fine on DVD. There's a nice 5.1 surround track which never utilizes all the speakers much, but the effort is appreciated. You can chose an edited television audio track which bleeps out any of the bad words, or an alternate audio track that finally lets you hear all your favorite Family Guy characters curse up a blue streak. People who find cursing offensive will be horrified at all the "f" bombs the cast gets to fling, but I wonder if such prudish types are fans of the show to begin with.
Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story is fine enough to warrant a purchase by fans of the show, but could easily be a pass for anyone who feels ambivalent about the show. It's certainly nothing new, so don't expect more than three episodes with a few funny gags and a raunchy vignette to bookend everything. I laughed, I was entertained, and I giggled when they cursed. Other than some blue dialogue, it's still the same old Family Guy you can currently catch every Sunday night on Fox. Guess it's up to you to decide if that's a good thing, a bad thing, or just plain freaking sweet.
Review content copyright © 2005 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Commentary by Creator Seth McFarlane, Cast, and Writers
* Uncensored Audio Track
* Animatic Comparisons
* Official Site
* Family Guy Reference Archives
* Damn You All!