Monday, January 21, 2008
Family Guy: Blue Harvest
Written by Fantasma el Rey
Family Guy Meets Star Wars in a very entertaining forty-five minutes of laughter and fun that had me rolling from beginning to end. It might seem that one has nothing to do with the other and anything of this nature would be pure nonsense and a disaster. Not so, as Family Guy creator and lifetime Star Wars nerd Seth MacFarlane proves along with his wonderfully talented writing staff. Merging the two works well in his hands and bares the stamp of approval from Mr. Lucas himself, who is a long-time Family Guy fan and was pleased to let McFarlane run amuck in his far away universe of long ago.
MacFarlane wisely chose the space epics true beginning Episode IV: A New Hope as the stomping ground for his characters to retell this tale in their own comic style, which includes many over-the-top jokes and gags at other television shows expense. His choice of “casting” is great as well; MacFarlane perfectly matches his characters with Lucas’. Mother Lois plays Princess Leia while father Peter is placed as smuggler captain Han Solo. Son Chris is young Luke Skywalker and baby genius Stewie is simply masterful as Darth Vader, while daughter Meg, who is the constant “butt” of jokes, is only seen as the garbage compactor creature. Rounding out the space players are the perverted Quagmire as C-3PO, Cleveland as R2-D2, family dog Brian as Wookiee Chewbacca, and Herbert (the creepy old neighbor) as Obi-Wan Kenobi.
The story begins with a power outage that causes the family to focus on each other. Rather than light candles and read or tell the story of Meg’s birth, Peter steps up to tell a tale of “Love and loss, fathers and sons, and the foresight to secure international merchandising rights.” Thus begins the retelling of SW:Episode IV. The Family Guy crew does a fine job in recreating the storyline by bringing to cartoon life the moments that captured the world thirty years earlier. The Mos Eisley cantina scene where we meet Han Solo and witness his ever-popular shootout with Greedo is a hoot as well as the opening shot of Darth Vader walking through the halls of the rebel base. The opening sequence is fun for the fact that Leia is having problems saving her message to Obi-Wan on R2’s hard drive. Throughout there are these sorts of pokes at modern technology and how they could have applied and malfunctioned in the Star Wars universe.
Great pop culture gags is what Family Guy is known for and Blue Harvest is stacked with them. Restored scenes on the DVD present Judd Nelson briefly reprising his role as John Bender from Breakfast Club giving his attitude at detention while adding on future Saturdays in the library. During the assault on the Death Star we get to see a “red role call” of a different kind that includes Red Foxx, Red Buttons and Simply Red. Smaller sight gags may be missed if one is not watching closely. For example, during the stormtrooper wedding Jesus along with everyone else has a stormtrooper helmet on. Keep yours eyes open for the unwanted advances of one soldier to another as the Millennium Falcon is being pulled into the Death Star and keep an ear out for the numerous Airplane jokes made along the way, including the quick appearance of Leslie Neilson.
Special features stand out on the DVD as well. The audio commentary is hilarious and gives insight into the warped minds of the Family Guy crew while providing behind the scenes secrets. The making of Blue Harvest is where we get to see that the entire production crew is comprised of gigantic Star Wars nerds and how that brings them all together. Yet the mother of all extras is the sit-down interview that Seth MacFarlane has with George Lucas. You can see it on MacFarlane’s face that he’s like a child sitting next to his big-screen idol. It is a good laugh to see MacFarlane stump Lucas on his game of “match the music to the scene” where MacFarlane will hum a few bars of music and ask if Lucas can remember where it goes in the film. It is here as well that Lucas revels that he is a big Family Guy fan giving MacFarlane more reason to look like a kid in awe of his hero.
Family Guy: Blue Harvest is a complete joy to watch from start to finish the movie itself is great and the DVD extras are worth watching a few times more. So be you a Star Wars nerd, a Family Guy freak or both (like Fantasma) you’ll dig the imaginative merging of what seem to be two different worlds.