Family Guy Presents: Blue Harvest (2008)
Release Date: January 15th, 2008 MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Dominic Polcino Actors: Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Seth Green, Mila Kunis, Mike Henry, Lori Alan
he highly popular TV show “Family Guy” has become a continuing source of pop culture lampooning for a devoted fanbase that supported it even after it was originally canceled. The surge of interest when the show appeared on DVD eventually got the series to be reinstated and, thanks to that steadfast patronization, the beloved dysfunctional clan is back for their second feature-length special (after “Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story”). Series creator Seth MacFarlane has long been a “Star Wars” enthusiast, so it’s only natural that with Fox’s licensing accessibility with the space saga franchise, “Family Guy Presents: Blue Harvest” finds the animated characters assuming the familiar roles of the heroes and villains from that iconic galaxy far, far away.
The story of a young farmer who dreams of battling the evil galactic empire up in the far reaches of space needs no explaining. Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Princess Leia, the faithful droids R2-D2 and C-3P0, and the ruthless Darth Vader all make an appearance – as highly stylized transformations into “Family Guy” personalities. The constantly calculating Stewie portrays the Dark Lord of the Sith; simple-minded Chris plays Luke; patriarchal Peter Griffin is an overweight Han Solo; Brian is a stubby Chewbacca; Lois is Leia without any alterations at all; and Cleveland and Quagmire are R2-D2 and C-3P0, respectively. Other delightfully witty appearances are made by Herbert the pedophile as Obi-Wan, Mayor Adam West as Grand Moff Tarkin (voiced by none other than Adam West), and even Meg (the constant butt of jokes) as the Dianoga trash compactor serpent.
While much of this endeavor looks to have been rotoscoped and cartoon shaded to perfectly match the movements of the original movie elements – including Star Destroyers, TIE Fighters (with Thai pilots), and the fast-maneuvering Millennium Falcon – “Blue Harvest” is not without its unique moments of bizarre deviations from the original plotline. A flamboyant dance sequence with Ben Kenobi was somehow unsurprising and yet so drastically different from anything one might anticipate in a “Star Wars” parody; and the need for Han Solo to snag a well-worn couch from the trash compacter during their escape means that screentime is allocated for the heroic team to attempt feats far less relevant than aiding the Rebellion.
But, of course, the best parts of any “Family Guy” outing are the constant stabs at politics, people, places, religion, other shows, and any idea that can be tastefully (or distastefully) satirized for a laugh. Parodying not only the famous moments from “Star Wars” (“Episode IV: A New Hope” as well as the other chapters), “Blue Harvest” proceeds to jest at the expense of Angelina Jolie, the sport of golf, Christianity, “American Dad,” elevator music, Magic Johnson, Big Red chewing gum, “Robot Chicken,” and Chevy Chase, to name but a few. The TV show is built on references to such a vast array of pop culture that some jokes are obvious while others are simply too obscure. But they keep coming like machinegun fire, so there’s no time to dwell on bits that could be better understood with a few more seconds to recall them from the subconscious.
“Family Guy Presents: Blue Harvest” is a perfect delight for admirers of the long-running show, doubling as a main attraction for anyone who has grown up with the influences and fascination of “Star Wars.” Though starring “Family Guy” faces appear at every turn, the jokes are often even droller for those who have kept up with the regular series – particularly since so many elements are self-referential and subtle. By no means a perfect spoof, “Blue Harvest” is nevertheless a must-see picture for followers of the sitcom – a program that has been stretching the boundaries of cartoon decency for a very long time … and now within a George Lucas-approved galaxy far, far away.
– Mike Massie