Well, after watching the final installment in the Family Guy/Star Wars franchise, I think I've learned an important life lesson: Know how we always yell at the main characters in horror films? Smacking our heads in disbelief every time they ignore an obvious warning sign? Perhaps we shouldn't criticize these fictional characters for their stupidity anymore, because it's obvious some of us have a tendency to ignore logic and common sense in our daily lives. This parody of Return of the Jedi for example, sounded shady from the very beginning. Originally titled We Have a Bad Feeling About This, I should have been able to predict the irony. Later on, they settled on the name It's a Trap! If that wasn't enough of a warning to stay away, then I should have hit the eject button on my Blu-ray player as soon as I watched the iconic opening crawl - The Family Guy staff was generous enough to warn us that Fox made them do this, holding Seth McFarlane's opportunity to work on a movie ransom if they refused. After leveling with the audience at home, they beg us to lower our expectations just this one time. Don't worry, I was already ahead of them on that one. Here's a quick excerpt from my review of the table read featurette for We Have a Bad Feeling About This, as was included on the Blu-ray release of Something, Something, Something, Dark Side:
I can't help but say it - "We Have a Bad Feeling About This" is definitely a fitting name, because whaddya know, I have a bad feeling about it too! Anyhoo, this is only a two and a half minute glimpse at the script for the Star Wars spoof to come, but what I saw didn't really make me laugh. Granted, it might end up being a lot funnier once I can see it with some animation, but I'm very skeptical about this Return of the Jedi parody after seeing Dark Side.
Turns out the two and a half minute table read happened to be a pretty good indicator of what I should have expected.
At first I thought the scroll was just some kind of joke but, they weren't fooling around. It's a Trap isn't just the weakest Family Guy and Star Wars hybrid to date, it's quite possibly the weakest Family Guy episode I've ever seen. Considering how the series has been in rapid decline for quite a while now, that's saying a lot. Anyway, the opening scroll is really the first major complaint I have about this installment. Although I appreciate their honesty in coming right out and saying this episode was going to suck, to have them disenchant the fans right out of the gate like that? It left a pretty sour taste in my mouth. I mean, a lot of people enjoyed Blue Harvest, myself included. In fact, I'd even go as far as to say it was bordering genius. Something, Something, Something, Dark Side was, I felt, pretty weak overall (despite still being an above average Family Guy episode), but many others enjoyed that one as well. But, whatever the behind-the-scenes reasons were for rushing this half-assed project, the fans aren't going to empathize just because the Family Guy crew started off an episode with a pity note. As consumers, those backroom deals and production hardships simply aren't our concern. All I, or anyone else spending their hard earned money on a release like this cares about, is the quality of the final product. Furthermore, warning us of the events that transpired to make this project less than it could have been, only serves to disconnect the viewer before the episode even has a chance to begin. Undoubtedly, many will now watch It's a Trap with the nagging thoughts of what could have been...
As frustrating as the opening crawl situation is, it's the poor writing that keeps It's a Trap from ever taking flight. How could the writing staff not come up with a hilarious parody for Return of the Jedi, even under a Fox mandated time crunch? I mean, Return of the Jedi is, without question, the film from the 'original' trilogy most ripe for parody, is it not? Even die-hard Star Wars fans have a hard time swallowing the latter half of the film, what with the Ewoks and all. Despite the golden opportunity the writing staff had however, and despite the fact that this should have been the parody they've been working towards all along, the jokes are uninspiring through and through (read: not funny). Unsurprisingly, there's even a bunch of recycled jokes from the Family Guy series - Meg is ugly, Consuela the lazy housekeeper likes to say 'noooo, noooo', Conway Twitty is back to make our ears bleed again, more ribbing on Seth Green and Robot Chicken comes into play, and the list goes on. The only truly 'fresh' idea that's been implemented this time around, is including a bunch of other characters from other McFarlane properties, such as American Dad and The Cleveland Show. Roger, Klaus, Rallo, and Tim the Bear all make appearances this time around. Predictably, not only are their cameos not funny, but they, too, serve to take us out of the Family Guy and Star Wars mash-up experience. The writers once again try to yuk it up by cracking jokes at the fact that they've seemingly 'run out of characters' to use for these parodies, but to me, it just seems like more of the same self-defeating 'feel sorry for us please' bullcrap. Due to the wealth of jokes that could have come from a Jedi parody, I didn't buy their excuse during the crawl, and I certainly don't buy them when they make fun of their lack of creativity throughout the episode.
I guess It's a Trap is faithful to Return of the Jedi in the respect that it, too, is the weakest of the trilogy. I could probably continue to give you the ole' yackidy-yack about this episode for days on end, but I think by now my point has been made perfectly clear: This is one of the worst Family Guy episodes I've ever seen, and it's incredibly disappointing such a comment has to be made about the long awaited Return of the Jedi parody that everyone has been waiting for. I know I made it sound like there's nothing funny about this episode at all, but honestly, I only laughed a couple of times. I don't use the term 'couple' loosely, either. I laughed twice. Chances are you already have your mind made up on this one though - Either you 'need' to see this to see how they wrapped up the trilogy, or you honestly can't believe It's a Trap can be that bad. Just do yourself a favor and rent it first. Don't say I didn't warn you... and for that matter, don't say that the Family Guy staff didn't warn you either.
Presented in 1080p using the AVC codec (1.78:1), It's a Trap is the best looking piece of the entire trilogy. As you can tell by the aspect ratio listed, the final entry in the Laugh It Up Fuzzball trilogy is in glorious widescreen, and surprisingly actually does add to the overall visual experience. Everything from Jabba's Palace to the Ewok village looks amazing, thanks to immaculate color saturation that leaps off the screen, well defined edges, excellent contrast with inky black levels, and of course, the source is clean. The only minor complaint comes in the form of some banding that shows up a few times throughout the feature, but this is a product of the source, not of the transfer itself. No, visually, this is a flawless representation of how It's a Trap was meant to look. It may be hard to believe, but it even looks somewhat better than the Something, Something, Something, Dark Side Blu-ray! If you're wondering if the upgrade from the DVD is worth the extra coin, then stop wondering and just get the Blu-ray. You won't regret it!
Sonically, It's a Trap sounds excellent thanks to its 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Much of the episode is dialogue heavy of course, but during some of the most notable action sequences, the surrounds really kick into gear with pinpoint precision. John Williams' score once again sounds brilliant in lossless, if not even better than it did on Dark Side. On Dark Side, the score felt ever so slightly hampered, but not this time around. Dialogue is perfect from beginning to end as well - Bright, crisp, and never drowned out by the action going on. Without a doubt, Family Guy has never sounded better, and probably never will. The only Star Wars experience you'll probably find better than this, is by watching the original films themselves when they come to Blu-ray in 2011!
Audio Commentary with Seth McFarlane, Writers David A. Goodman and Cherry Chevapravatdumrong, Shannon Smith, and Peter Shin - I wasn't really a fan of this commentary track. Much like what was offered on Dark Side, it's fun to listen to, but I don't listen to these things to hear people laughing at themselves every time somebody says something. There are plenty of short pauses throughout, and that's rather puzzling considering how many people we have behind the mic. Seth McFarlane can't stay for the entire recording either, which is also pretty disappointing. If there was any time I would have wanted Seth to really lay his feelings about this project out, it would have been on this track... not the opening crawl of the episode. He really should have given the fans the full 57 minutes to discuss what he liked or disliked about this episode in its entirety. However, if he stayed, he most likely would have been just as much a part of the 'kiss-ass' session as everyone else is. Fans will probably find this track to be fun, but it just wasn't my cup of tea. At least now I know that Cherry Chevapravatdumrong is a real name!
A Very Special Message from Darth Stewie - This is a very short featurette, makes no point, and isn't very funny. Skip this one.
Star Wars Trivial Pursuit - The Ultimate Championship - The Family Guy crew sits down to play Star Wars Trivial Pursuit with one another. I know how boring that sounds, but it's actually pretty amusing to watch.
Drawing with Peter Shin - This is a full twenty minute featurette on how Peter Shin 'creates'. If you ever wanted to see how a professional in the field goes through the creative process from beginning to end, you should definitely give this supplement a viewing.
Sock Puppet Outtakes - The sock puppet gag was one of the two things that made me laugh throughout the entirety of the episode, so I was rather excited to see these outtakes. Unfortunately, this wasn't funny at all. Skip.
Family Guy - It's a Trap! Animatic - Animatics show how they help to bring the final product to life, and in some cases, how things can change from the early stages to the finishing touches. Check this one out.
Making the Scene - This featurette goes a little more in-depth into how animatics are used to bring a scene to life. Whereas the previous featurette was just sort of an overview, this supplement shows us two scenes in particular, and how they started as animatics in comparison to the final product.
If I sat down to write this review, and said, "Hey guys, I'm only writing this review because I have to write this review. Sure, I started the process by taking it from the review queue, but I have so much going on in my life that I simply didn't have the time to give you a solid effort. Just excuse my work this one time, and I promise I'll make good on it later." Would you care about my excuses? Of course you wouldn't. You're here to read a review, and if that review doesn't give you the information you're looking for, then you're either going to stop reading my reviews or complain on the forum. Same thing goes for Fox and the issues they created for the Family Guy staff. Just give a solid effort, guys. Unfortunately, all they did was phone it in. The jokes fell flat 98% of the time, and the writers kept recycling the same jokes from the series over and over again. I know you're probably itching to see the final installment in this trilogy of parodies, but it might be best for you to just skip this one. If you have to see this, then give it a rental... just don't blind buy this. You'll most likely regret it.