The third, and probably final, Family Guy Star Wars parody sees life on uncensored DVD and Blu-ray before hitting the airwaves in 2011. Does it hold up as well as the first two, which were universally lauded by both fans of the series and the movies that inspired these parodies are pretty hot stuff? No. It's definitely the weakest of the three so far, but it's got enough that works for it that if you've enjoyed what came before it you'll enjoy what's here. You'll laugh, you just don't laugh as hard is all. So as it was the first two times around, when the power goes out in the Griffin household, it's time for Star Wars stories...
This time around, Seth MacFarlane and company take on Return Of The Jedi and it more or less picks up where Something, Something, Something Dark Side, the Empire Strikes Back parody, left off. The main Family Guy characters reprise their Star Wars counterpart roles - Peter plays Han Solo, , Quagmire is C3-P0, Cleveland is R2-D2, Stewie is Darth Vader, Lois is Leia, Brian is Chewbacca, Carter is the Emperor and Chris is Luke Skywalker. The story follows Jedi close enough that you don't need much of a recap - Darth Stewie arrives at the Death Star as it is being completed while C3-PO and R2-D2 head to Jabba's palace to try and free Han from his carbonite coffin and Leia from her status as Jabba's slave girl. Luke shows up and is sent to a pit to fight Rush Limbaugh, and before you know it they're all hanging out on the sand skiffs above the Sarlaac pit (the Sarlaac is 'played' by Meg).
From there we hit all the Jedi notes you'd expect, with a trip to Dagobah to meet Yoda (played by Carl the convenience store employee) before heading to Endor (where Time from The Cleveland Show plays Wicket). It all leads up to the Luke/Vadar showdown and the confrontation with the Emperor that fans would know was coming, before wrapping everything up with a nice happy ending.
The opening credits scrawl for this third installment basically lays it all on the line and admits that this third one is basically a cash in done because of the popularity of the first two entries in the series. Fair enough. While that may very well be true it's not like this third one won't tickle the collective funny bone of those who appreciated the earlier entries. What you might notice, however, is a feeling of 'been there, done that' going throughout the whole damn thing. There are plenty of laugh out loud moments - the scene in which we see how The Emperor and Darth Stewie designed the Death Star on a cocktail napkin while drinking at a bar one night is a prime example, as is Yoda's death scene - but what felt fresh and surprisingly original the first time around is now starting to feel like an old hat. It's comfortable and you enjoy having it, but it's not particularly new or exciting.
Of course, this being a Family Guy special you should expect some random unrelated pop culture references. The aforementioned Rush Limbaugh (who recently leant his voice talents to the show where he played himself) replaces the Rancor while Patrick Stewart's presence instantly brings to mind his Star Trek: The Next Generation character. At one point the Ewok's break into the theme from a certain Will Smith TV show while Robert Palmer's Power Station side project gets an odd nod, as does Lost In Space. Osama Bin Laden hides out in the sands of Tatooine while there are cracks made about Jedi being an official religion. The special hits all the notes you'd expect it to, it's just that it's all become just a little tired at this point. It's funny, it just doesn't feel as creative or interesting as it once did.
Family Guy - It's A Trap looks pretty good in this 1.78.1 AVC encoded 1080p high definition widescreen presentation. The source material is crisp and clean and free of any print damage and color reproduction looks very good. Black levels are strong and fine line detail is as good as the source animation will allow for. There is some noticeable banding in some scenes and a bit of shimmer here and there but overall, the image is a strong one, though again, it's only going to be as detailed as the source material is, meaning that while some of the CGI bits show a lot of detail, the show is still based around McFarlane's typically simple style of animation.
The English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track on this disc won't floor you but it does offer up some effective surround use and a fairly solid lower end when the storyline calls for it. Dialogue is clean, clear and free of any hiss or distortion and the levels are consistently well balanced. The sound effects have some good punch to them but thankfully don't overpower the voice actors. There isn't as much rear channel activity during the action scenes as maybe there could have been but what's here does sound good. Optional subtitles are provided in English SDH, French and Spanish though there are no alternate language dubs provided.
The biggest and best of the extras on the disc is the audio Commentary with Seth MacFarlane, writers David A. Goodman and Cherry Chevapravatdumrong, Shannon Smith, and Peter Shin. These guys obviously enjoy working with one another quite a bit and that sense of warmth and humor shines through into this track rather well. They spend a fair bit of time talking about adapting the source material for this 'remake' and about the writing process. It's fairly interesting and rather amusing - as such, it's worth a listen for fans.
Moving onto the features, things kick off with A Very Special Message From Darth Stewie which is a ninety second gag that won't be spoiled here. More interesting is the Star Wars Trivial Pursuit: The Ultimate Championship half hour featurette in which the Family Guy writing team squares off against one another in a Star Wars Trivial Pursuit contest. While this is basically just a half an hour of watching a bunch of people play a board game, it's more amusing than you'd think. Drawing With Peter Shin is a twenty minute segment in which the animator shows us his creative process as we get to check out a bunch of his drawings and his sketches as they pertain to this special, while Sock Puppet Outtakes is ninety seconds of just that, excised material featuring the sock puppet that shows up in It's A Trap!. Rounding out the featurettes is a forty minute Animatic collection that shows how the animated sequences were put together, and a bit called Making The Scene that's a six minute examination of how two scenes evolved from animatic to finished animated form.
For the Blu-ray Live enabled, you can access Fox's website and check out an exclusive featurette that way called Comic-Con -- It's a Trap!, which is an amusing discussion about the feature. Animated menus and scene selection are also included. This release also comes packaged with a standard definition DVD and a digital copy.
Like the film that inspired it, Family Guy - It's A Trap! is the weakest of the trilogy. It still has enough going for it to make it worth a watch for those that enjoy the series' brand of irreverent humor but the joke is now beginning to wear a little bit thin. Fox's Blu-ray presentation is a good one with a nice transfer, strong audio and a good amount of extra features so this release still comes recommended for fans of the series. Just keep your expectations in check.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.