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The Family Guy Trilogy: Laugh It Up, Fuzzball(TV) (2007-2010)
With the Griffins stuck at home during a blackout, Peter begins to tell a story, which leads to a Star Wars flashback. Acting out scenes from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
For more about The Family Guy Trilogy: Laugh It Up, Fuzzball and The Family Guy Trilogy: Laugh It Up, Fuzzball Blu-ray release, see The Family Guy Trilogy: Laugh It Up, Fuzzball Blu-ray Review
Starring: Seth MacFarlane, Seth Green, Mila Kunis
Director: Peter Shin
This Blu-ray release includes the following titles, see individual titles for specs and details:
The Family Guy Trilogy: Laugh It Up, Fuzzball Blu-ray Review
“A long time ago, but somehow in the future…”
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, December 22, 2010
Family Guy has always subsisted on a diet of regurgitated pop culture references, so it makes sense that the show would chew lovingly on the Star Wars franchise, a six-course meal unto itself and undoubtedly one of the most influential "pop" phenomena of the 20th century. Find me someone under fifty who doesn't know who Luke Skywalker is, and I'll show you someone who must've been living on Dagobah for the past thirty years. But due to the series' multi- generational popularity, Star Wars spoofs are a dime a dozen, with Spaceballs and Robot Chicken and even—forgive me fanbase—the Star Wars prequels themselves, which are almost embarrassingly self-parodying. Still, there's a near endless audience for this kind of material, and Family Guy can dish it out with the best of 'em, as proved in the Laugh It Up, Fuzzball box set, which gathers together all three of the show's nearly hour-long Star Wars parody episodes: 2007's Blue Harvest, an affectionate riff on Episode IV: A New Hope, Something, Something, Something, Dark Side, which apes The Empire Strikes Back, and the final, most recent entry, It's A Trap!, which puts a more comically violent spin on the overly cute Return of the Jedi. In typical Family Guy fashion, the jokes are hit or miss, but if you're a fan of the show—and Star Wars, of course—you'll have plenty of opportunities to laugh.
The premise here is simple. Show creator Seth MacFarlane and his crew of geeky writers and animators have recreated the entire Star Wars trilogy in a compressed but nearly shot-for-shot form and populated the iconic fantasy films with characters from the Family Guy universe. Portly dad Peter Griffin becomes Han Solo and Brian, the family dog, serves as a fitting Chewbacca. Pubescent son Chris, voiced by Seth Green, is Luke Skywalker, and Leia, oddly enough, is Chris' mom Lois, and not—as you'd probably expect—his sister Meg. (Since Leia is pretty much the only female character of consequence in the original Star Wars trilogy, homely Meg is resigned to playing bit parts as gross-out monsters, like A New Hope's trash compactor eyeball-thingy, the worm on the asteroid in Empire, and Jedi's pit-dwelling Sarlacc.) World domination-bent baby Stewie, of course, is cast as a pint-sized Darth Vader who wears an oversized helmet that would put Rick Moranis in Spaceballs to shame.
In Blue Harvest, the Family Guy crew follows the plot of A New Hope exactly, but injects each scene with the show's characteristic brand of absurdist, juvenile, non sequitur-laden humor. For example, when Chris-as-Luke stares longingly off into Tatooine's twin- sunset, accompanied by swelling strains of John Williams' "Force Theme," Luke turns to find the composer and the entire London Philharmonic Orchestra behind him. Naturally, he asks if, instead, they could play the theme from Night Court. And they do.
Every few seconds yields a verbal joke, a visual pun, or an out-of-nowhere aside. Danny Elfman's head gets lopped off by a lightsaber. The Millennium Falcon finds itself lost in the middle of an Asteroids field—as in, the now-ancient arcade video game. C-3P0 (Quagmire) and R2- D2 (Cleveland) take a break from the action to smoke some pot, and Magic Johnson shows up in a training video before the Battle of Yavin. Some of the gags hit harder than others, while a few miss entirely. To wit, it's funny when Herbert the pedophile is introduced as a lascivious Obi-Wan Kenobi —"Get your fat space ass back here"—but a long sequence in which he sings "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" will be greeted with nothing but silence. Ultimately, how much you enjoy Blue Harvest—and, by extension, the entire trilogy—will depend on your familiarity with (and tolerance of) Family Guy's spotty but occasionally hilarious sense of comedy.
Something, Something, Something, Dark Side offers—for better or worse, but mostly better—more of the same. After a parody of the Star Wars franchise's iconic opening crawl—lambasting 20th Century Fox for giving all merchandising rights to George Lucas—we're taken to the ice planet Hoth, where Chris Griffen, as Luke Skywalker, is dragged to Cookie Monster's icy lair before hacking off the creature's arm to escape. Rescued by Han Solo, who rides in on a Don-Don—an animal with Don Knott's head—Luke leads the fight against the Empire's invading force of AT- ATs, or "robot camels" as they're called here. Solo, Princess Leia, and Chewbacca blast off of Hoth in The Millennium Falcon and hide out in an asteroid field, while Luke sets a course to Dagobah to meet with Yoda and embark on a training sequence spliced with footage from Dolph Lundgren's ridiculous montage in Rocky IV. The rest of Dark Side plays out almost identically to The Empire Strikes Back, all culminating with the trip to Cloud City (which has a J. Crew outlet), Han Solo mooning us while being frozen in carbonite, and Luke facing off against tiny Stewie.
It's obvious that Seth McFarlane and the other creators of Family Guy are enormous Star Wars fans, as Dark Side, like Blue Harvest, is more of a humorous homage than a barbed satire. There are a few jabs at Empire's oddities—like when Brian questions why Lando is wearing Han Solo's clothes at the end of the film—but most of the comedy is derived from outlandish segues (Star Trek's George Takei showing up to make kissy-smoochy faces), bizarre pop culture interruptions (Ryan Seacrest getting drawn and quartered by lightsabers), and repetition (Peter heavy breathing for twenty seconds, which is so unfunny that it eventually becomes funny). And there's a lot of great stuff here, especially if you're a Star Wars fan, like Cleveland as R2-D2 getting accused of rape when he "docks" with a locked door, or a stormtrooper who wears a fishnet shirt instead of body armor because he's going out dancing after work. Most of the best lines are given to Stewie, the sexually ambiguous infant. I laughed particularly hard when the Emperor asks Stewie, as Vader, to "turn" Luke. "Maybe I can make him go bi," says Stewie, "but all the way?" Overall, Dark Side isn't the best Family Guy episode I've seen, but it's every bit as funny as Blue Harvest.
Which brings us to Return of the Jedi spoof It's A Trap!, which was originally and perhaps more appropriately titled We've Got a Bad Feeling About This. The opening text crawl even half-jokingly advises us to lower our expectations for this third outing. It's a warning well worth heeding, as the hit-to-miss ratio here is a good bit lower than it was in either of Trap's predecessors. There are several gags that are even recycled wholesale from the other episodes, like the constant self-referential ribbing on Seth Green as an actor or John Williams showing up yet again with his orchestra, this time to play the theme song from Entertainment Tonight. I get it—these are essentially in-jokes for people who have followed the mock-trilogy from the beginning—but after a while, it just starts to feel lazy and uninspired.
That's not to say, however, that there aren't any laugh-out-loud-worthy moments here. They're just fewer and father apart this time around. If you've always hated Return of the Jedi's kid-friendly tone, you'll love how violent Trap is, from Peter-as-Han Solo having stormtroopers dig their own graves with their helmets and ordering them to stab one another in the mouth with knives, to a much more blood-thirsty portrayal of Ewoks. (In one awkward moment, an Ewok finds Leia because he can smell that she's starting her period.) The battle for Endor is turned into an ultra-violent massacre, culminating in Brian the Dog laughing maniacally and shooting small woodland creatures with an AT-ST-mounted blaster gun. As usual, though, most of the gags are based around off-the-wall-and-out-of-the-blue pop culture references, like the 80's band Power Station fueling the Death Star, C-3P0 entertaining the Ewoks with a translated rendition of the Fresh Prince theme song, and Alec Baldwin as Jabba the Hutt. Oh yeah, and the big news: We've found Osama bin Laden. He's been hiding out in the sand dunes of Tatooine.
The Family Guy Trilogy: Laugh It Up, Fuzzball Blu-ray, Video Quality
All three short films feature animation that's a good deal more impressive than most Family Guy episodes, thanks to an excellent mixture of the show's traditional hand-drawn 2-D aesthetic with 3-D CGI ships that almost look rotoscopped from original Star Wars footage. (Although this isn't the case, as I learned from the Darkside commentary track. Everything was created from scratch.) However, there's a great deal of variance in the 1080p/AVC-encoded transfers of the three spoofs. Blue Harvest—framed in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio—is clearly upscaled from standard definition, and there's nothing that could be done about this, as Family Guy, at the time, had not yet started producing episodes in HD. As a result, the outlines are softer, the colors less pronounced, and the encode given to slight but frequently occurring aliasing that turns what should be smooth diagonal lines into stair-steps. You'll also notice a kind of ghosting effect that blurs the stars in the backgrounds of the space scenes. I don't have the Blue Harvest DVD to run a comparison, but I can't imagine that the Blu-ray looks any more than marginally better.
On the other hand, Something, Something, Something, Dark Side—which got a standalone Blu-ray release last year—looks fantastic, as it was produced natively in high definition. (Although, it's still in 1.33:1, and not the widescreen, HDTV-friendly 1.78:1.) I'm sure some folks are still wary about how 1080p can benefit simple 2-D animation, but chuck Dark Side into your Blu-ray player and you'll immediately notice the advantages. The outlines of characters and objects, for one, are much tighter with the increase in resolution. So, while you may not get the added textural detail that you'd find in a celluloid film, the image is much more crisp and defined when compared to its DVD counterpart. Similarly, black levels are deeper, and colors—even with a palette as basic as Family Guy's—have more presence, giving the picture a sense of "pop" that isn't nearly as apparent in Blue Harvest. Just as notably, there are no wayward artifacts here, no noise, macroblocking or unsightly jaggies, though I did notice some extremely slight banding in one Cloud City sunset. This could easily be source related, though, and not a product of the transfer itself. Either way, as I said, it's barely perceivable.
And believe it or not, It's A Trap! is even more impressive. Maybe it's just the expansion to a widescreen 1.78:1 presentation, but this newest Star Wars send-up seems sharper and more vivid, with tighter lines, a more varied color scheme, and more detail in the backgrounds and animation. Plus, as with Dark Side, there are no errant artifacts aside from a few instances of nearly imperceptible banding. This is how animated television on Blu-ray should look.
Do note that Blue Harvest comes on a single-layer disc, while Darkside and Trap both arrive on dual-layer 50 GB platters.
The Family Guy Trilogy: Laugh It Up, Fuzzball Blu-ray, Audio Quality
As a Star Wars spoof, the Laugh It Up, Fuzzball trilogy obviously has more going on sonically than your average Family Guy episode. Thankfully, all three parodies have been granted stellar DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround tracks that, while never taxing your home theater system, at least broadcast the episodes with pristine sound quality and a well-balanced mix. I know it will probably pain and pleasure a few Star Wars fans, tired of waiting for the franchise to hit Blu-ray, to hear John Williams' iconic themes in glorious lossless audio, but the music does sound fantastic here, with a great amalgam of detail, instrument separation, and potent bass. Many of the sound effects are a little thin—explosions are puny, for instance—but the tracks do make the most out of the surround channels. Tie Fighters criss-cross the rear speakers, lasers zip to and fro, fireballs ripple from front to back, and there's even a good amount of outer-spacey ambience tossed into the mix. Most importantly, dialogue is clean, clear, and prominent, making sure that all the jokes—whether they hit the moon or land somewhere off among the stars—are easily understood.
It's not exactly clear at the top of this page, but the additional language and subtitle options vary for each disc. Blue Harvest has DTS 5.1 tracks in French, German, Italian, and Catalan, plus a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 track. You'll also find English SDH, Spanish, French, Quebec French, Italian, German, Portuguese, Catalan, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish subtitles, along with commentary subtitles in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish. Phew!
Darkside has no dub options, but it has subtitles available in English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese, Mandarin, Danish, Finnish, Swedish, and Norwegian.
It's A Trap! also lacks dubs, and comes only with English SDH, Spanish, and French subtitles.
The Family Guy Trilogy: Laugh It Up, Fuzzball Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Each Blu-ray disc in the Laugh It Up: Fuzzball set comes with a fun assortment of extras, which I'll detail below, but first a word about the packaging and its contents. The three Blu-ray keep-cases slip nicely inside a slipcover, which itself slides into another slipcover to create a fairly sturdy overall package. Blue Harvest and Dark Side include digital copies on a separate disc, and It's A Trap! includes a combo DVD/Digital Copy. Now, on to the extras!
The Family Guy Trilogy: Laugh It Up, Fuzzball Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
It's pretty simple. If you love Star Wars and you love Family Guy, then Laugh it Up, Fuzzball is an obvious purchase. For those unfamiliar with creator Seth MacFarlane's wacko family, it might be better to start with previous seasons on DVD, but true fans will definitely be excited to see Family Guy's take on the Star Wars saga, even if It's A Trap!, the latest entry, isn't quite as funny as the first two. The animation really does look great here, as simple as it is, and the sound of John William's Star Wars themes in lossless audio will have fanboys and girls pining for George Lucas' space opera to hit Blu-ray in late 2011. For now, Fuzzball will have to do. Recommended.
Family Guy Presents: Blue Harvest: Other Seasons
The Family Guy Trilogy: Laugh It Up, Fuzzball Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray - December 21-27 - December 21, 2010
Philip Noyce may not hold the same level of name recognition as elite action directors like Michael Bay or Christopher Nolan, but he has managed to work with some of Hollywood's most well known action stars. For his latest, and most complete, action film Salt, ...
• Family Guy Blu-ray Trilogy Gets Light Side /Dark Side Cover - November 5, 2010
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has revealed the cover art for Laugh It Up, Fuzzball: The Family Guy Trilogy, which is set to come out on Blu-ray on December 21. The box set will have a dual cover, contrasting the dark and light sides of these Star Wars satires. ...
• Family Guy Trilogy Blu-ray Coming Up - September 27, 2010
An early announcement to retailers indicates that, on December 21, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will release The Family Guy Trilogy (comprised of Blue Harvest -unreleased on Blu-ray separately-, Family Guy Presents: Something Something Something Dark ...
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