In the beginning there was “Family Guy.” As a television show it started, ran for two years, was cancelled, ran for a third year, and was cancelled again three years ago. Fox pulled it off the air despite its multitudes of fans. Once the show was cancelled a second time, plans began to form, like an egg, to at least make a movie to tie up all the loose ends where the show left off. Though Fox has (at least for now) returned ‘Family Guy’ to television for a fourth season, we now have the movie too.
Remember all the comments I’ve made in other reviews about fart jokes, cleavage shots, chins looking like scrotums (I don’t think I’ve ever really said that one since Jay Leno isn’t in film), floozy women, racial stereotypes, unbelievable behaviors, and random flashbacks that don’t advance the plot? Through the creative genius that is Seth MacFarlane, those remarks go shooting out the window. If you’re looking for wholesome, caring, and meaningful shows, “Little House on the Prairie” will be airing sometime between two and five in the morning. This is Family Guy!
If you’ve never seen “Family Guy” the TV show, then brace yourself for the movie. Like I said, Fox has it back on the air (for now), and with every episode MacFarlane tests the waters and continues to push boundaries. Now that there’s a movie, unrated in all its glory, there are no boundaries. For those of us, few and far between, that have been a fan of the Griffins from the beginning, Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story is the dessert cart after an already full buffet of television episodes.
The Untold Story revolves around Stewie’s quest to find his real father, as he also attempts to be a good boy, and spends some time with Brian (my personal favorite) on a road trip. Meanwhile, Peter starts putting in a commentary on the news to tell the town of Quahog what really “grinds [his] gears”. As usual there are lots of great references to hundreds of other films, TV shows, and historical events right down to Stewie being found full-beard like Saddam in a hole in the ground and getting a physical exam from a doctor. To start and end the film, there are even parts in which the Griffins go to the premiere of their own movie.
The only error I can find in this addition to the Family Guy name is that because this is a theatrical length film, after a while I thought the actual pace of the storyline started to drag. There seemed to be less time between the flashbacks, flash-forwards, and flash to randomnesses that we’ve come to expect from the show. The good news however, is that most of these flashes are really hilarious. The bad news is that it starts to look like they’re grasping for straws to throw any old line in there to force a flash back. This gripe is minor, when you consider the movie as a whole.
There should definitely be another Family Guy movie, only this time focused on Peter and Lois. In the future, I think there will come a point when Stewie has worn out his cute and verbally abusive welcome. It’s a similar to what happened with “The Simpsons.” The show was focused on Homer, then Groening and the guys realized people liked Bart a lot. Suddenly all the attention was shifted to Bart, and Homer went on the back burner for a while. Now, we’re all back to loving Homer because he already has the ability to be adult and act adult. Stewie can only be shocking to a point before we want to see Peter’s reactions to the world again. Kind of like the Quizno’s baby. Cute for a while, but what does a baby know about sub sandwiches? The same is true when you see a commercial with a really crappy animated dog trying to sell cars. What in the hell makes Ford or Chevrolet think I want to give $20,000 of MY money to a cartoon dog? That is REAL money! Why would I give real money to a FAKE dog? I didn’t give it to the twenty-foot tall blow-up gorilla on the roof of the Toyota dealership, why would I give it to the dog? So, why would I waste my REAL time with Stewie trying to kill his mother when I could get comic relief about psuedo-real life situations from Peter and Lois?
The beauty of it all is that people do buy cars from dogs and subs from babies. Hell, the Noid sold pizza for a time. So people are willing to sit down in front of the TV, press play on the menu screen and eagerly, gladly, watch Stewie’s Untold Story. With every painful truth, odd film reference, and vision of Peter writhing on the floor in agony from a fall, collision, or kick, we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. It seems today that all you see is violence in movies and sex on TV. But where are those good old fashion values on which we used to rely? We’re lucky there’s a Family Guy.
Knowing the show they way I do, and loving it for all the button pushing, crude humor it has, if I were Fox and saw the extras offered for Family Guy the movie, I would cancel it too. For a franchise with the great following and specific audience “Family Guy” has, this thing should be loaded with great extras. Instead, I am completely disappointed by its utter lack of good bonus material. Unlike the television series on DVD (which is stacked with extras), the movie has a commentary, an ineffective animatic comparison, and previews.
For starters, the audio commentary with Seth MacFarlane, a couple of executive producers, and the directors of the movie is fairly boring. Sadly without this feature, I’d be even more disappointed in the disc. Sure there are bits of neat information there to hear, but really the discussion is pretty bland. MacFarlane should be more interested in his own work. Perk up a bit man and give us the impression that you want to be there!
If that wasn’t bad enough, the only other feature I found was an “Animatic Comparison.” To use this feature you press the angle button on your DVD remote to switch between a side by side comparison (final movie footage and black and white drawings) and full screen angles. Now, maybe it was me, maybe it was my DVD player, maybe it was Twentieth Century Fox falling short on me, but this feature didn’t work. I only got to see the full screen angle of the black and white drawings and hear the dialogue for only TWO scenes. (Yes, only TWO scenes.) The angle button did nothing but put an icon up on the top of the screen. The side by side comparison never happened.
Finally, the reason why we all buy videos, yeah right, there were previews. I don’t even like previews in the theater very much, let alone previews that will be outdated when I watch the movie again in a year or so. Besides, the previews are for “Family Guy” Volume 3 and “American Dad” which most of us already know if we watch or buy these shows. Another extra listed on the box is a “bonus uncensored audio track.” I don’t know if that means we’re supposed to be grateful for having sound during the movie or if they forgot to add something to the disc, but I never found that one on there.
If I had to watch a ton of extras for Seed of Chucky then Family Guy should have more than this. But don’t worry. I have a plan. I always have a plan. To refresh your memory, in the first return episode of the fourth season, Peter Griffin lists twenty-nine failed shows that Fox aired during the three years that “Family Guy” was cancelled. Well, here’s my list of twenty-nine things I think they should have included on the disc. Perhaps this will help get a “Freakin’ Sweet Bonus Edition” put out some day. Special features seem to just overflow from “locked” vaults around Christmas time. Let’s see what you can do for me MacFarlane.
1) to see them doing the voices for the movie (they have this on the box sets),
2) a quick little drawing bit like those illustration book you could buy in the ‘80s where you too can draw Brian the dog,
3) maybe watch how it goes from script to animation,
4) lets see how they created some of the sound effects,
5) show guest stars doing the voices (hello, Adam West, Ron Livingston),
6) tape interviews with MacFarlane,
7) tape interviews with any of the regular cast,
8) tape interviews with the crew,
9) tell what everyone thinks about their lives and “Family Guy” and why they all like working for the show,
10) have the cast/crew talking about what they think about Fox and all the cancellations “Family Guy” has gone through and why it was so life changing and important to create a movie, etc.,
11) tape interviews with the writers,
12) interview the producer,
13) interviews with the directors,
14) interview the animators,
15) have a bit where we get to watch the work done for all the songs (orchestral or singing work, we don’t care),
16) deleted scenes, who doesn’t watch these
17) made-up outtakes and bloopers (they have them on Monsters Inc.)
18) a sit in session watching the writers come up with obscure references
19) the phone call where they asked permission to use the theme from “Who’s The Boss” to show Hell as only having one show on the TV all the time
20) a still photo gallery of the Griffin Family Photo Album
21) a music video, any song would do as long as it comes up from no where
22) a making of featurette
23) have hat and shirt promotions with the website listed for ordering
24) maybe Stewie trying to sell sandwiches or automobiles (he’s selling Volume Three on the insert)
25) cartoon interviews, directly speaking to the camera or on an illustrated Tonight Show talking about the movie (Chucky talked to the cameras),
26) random footage of “A Day In the Life of The Griffins”
27) the Griffins doing a scene from MacBeth (something like Lois saying “Peeeetahh I can’t get this damn spot off my hand” )
28) perhaps an animated short of Stewie finally offing Lois
29) MacFarlane, on camera, thanking fans for sticking with him through all these years and then continuing to support him by buying his virtually empty straight-to-DVD movie.