TV On DVD: 'Family Guy: It's A Trap!'
Starting today, you can own the final volume in the Family Guy series of Star Wars parodies: It's A Trap! is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray from FOX Home Entertainment. Here's a look at what you can expect from the DVD version of the last part of the trilogy.
I've always been kind of on the fence with Family Guy; there are some parts I love, and others I loathe. The Star Wars parodies are like that as well; I still quote lines from Blue Harvest but Something, Something, Something Dark Side wasn't as great. (To be fair, I agree with executive producer Danny Smith, who told me in March he believes that's tied to the source material, as The Empire Strikes Back had a pretty high bar to reach compared to Star Wars.) When It's A Trap! opened with a text crawl in which Seth MacFarlane seemed to admit that he was made to do it and asking fans to lower their expectations, I knew it was possible that he wasn't kidding.
To an extent, he wasn't. It's A Trap! is yet another mixed bag. There are some things here that are not funny at all, including the random appearances of a live sock puppet and the bodily function jokes. There's a few instances of the Family Guy habit of a joke going on far too long (there's a sequence of more than a minute that consists of just characters nodding). There's also an annoying moment where a joke happens, and then a character states what just happened, in case we missed the joke ten seconds earlier. Not to mention, sticking a Vader helmet on Conway Twitty doesn't make inserting yet another of his musical performances (this is the third time Family Guy has done so) any less boring. I think I groaned audibly at that part.
That aside, though, there's some funny stuff in here, too. It's always a treat to see what character poor Meg will end up playing; in the same scene that's revealed, the writers work actress Mila Kunis' name into Jabba the Hutt's dialogue. The usage of characters from American Dad! and The Cleveland Show shows you that they really have run out of Family Guy cast to put in these, but they're not afraid to poke fun at that deficiency. As with the last installment, there's a great tongue-in-cheek slap in the face to Seth Green, and the best parts involve Darth Stewie, whose exploits include deciding to get Death Star T-shirts made. Unfortunately, there's not enough that's funny for the installment to be consistently entertaining.
Like Something, Something, Something Dark Side, It's A Trap! is uncensored, meaning that you'll hear all the profanities. This wouldn't bother me, except that it feels sometimes as if they're using profanity just because they're able to get away with it. That sort of sums up how I felt about the project as a whole: that the writers were running out of steam, and just used the piece as a playground for whatever random ideas crossed their minds at the time, without much thought to how it would impact the complete story.
Having seen the finished product, I have to say that Seth MacFarlane wasn't joking at the beginning, but probably being honest. He deserves some credit for that, at least, but I was expecting a lot more out of It's A Trap!
This is a single-disc, no-frills release. Seriously. The only things inside the case are instructions on how to transfer your digital copy and an advertisement for Bob's Burgers.
What's more worrisome is that, in their need to remind us that this case is recyclable, the good people at FOX have actually cut the "recycle" symbol out of the inside front of the plastic case, and likewise there's an almost Death Star-shaped portion missing from the inside rear. This means that depending on how you're handling it, the only thing separating you from punching a hole into the DVD case is the paper artwork on either side. It's not particularly wise in my opinion; is encouraging us to recycle really worth making the case easy to damage? Thankfully, the release also comes with a cardboard slipcover, so as long as you replace that between uses, you should be generally fine here. Just be careful when you're handling the plastic case itself.
There's another odd feature: after the studio credit and before the FBI warning, FOX has inserted an explanation of what digital copies are, just in case you forgot. You can skip this by hitting the menu button. (When you view this on your computer, you'll also be greeted by an auto-run menu of options. I haven't seen one of those since Barenaked Ladies' Rock Spectacle CD in the 90's.) Once you get past that, though, you'll get some neat animated menus which take just a little too long to get to your options.
Technically speaking, this one looks just as good as the others in the series; if you have the right TV, the animation almost moves as fluidly as live-action. You get a widescreen 1:78:1 presentation, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. There are captions for English SDH as well as subtitles in French and Spanish. The running time is only 57 minutes, but that's much longer than the 44 minutes from the last one (now if only those 13 minutes were of better quality).
The Special Features
It's A Trap! comes with a decent selection of special features, though they could have been more special, and there's nothing as cool as the 3D scene from Blue Harvest. Here's what you get:
"A Very Special Message From Darth Stewie": No, this isn't directed at you. It's a voicemail from Darth Stewie to Luke about his computer issues and the Dark Side. It's worthy of a chuckle or two, but this could have been so much funnier given that Darth Stewie is the best thing to come out of these parodies.
"Star Wars Trivial Pursuit": You can watch four FG crewmembers play their 'ultimate championship' of the game. This is like watching your friends play Monopoly; it's way more fun to do than it is to watch. Again, this could have been a lot more fun, if it was perhaps a game the home audience could play, especially if it was about the parody episodes. What better way to close out the trilogy than to see if you've been paying attention the whole time? Alas, no.
"Drawing With Peter Shin" and "Animatic" are exactly what you think they are - looks into the actual process of animation.
"Sock Puppet Outtakes" are here as well. I didn't even bother to watch them considering that the sock puppet was the unfunniest thing in the entire movie.
Lastly, there's a commentary track with Seth MacFarlane and four of the crew. If you haven't yet been treated to these guys (and girls) in person or on previous tracks, the banter isn't unlike the content of the show; sarcastic, often adult humor. The track is a decent enough listen, but at the same time, after watching the movie, I just wanted to understand why it fell so flat - and the commentary sheds little light on that at all.
The Bottom Line
This is no Blue Harvest, and I'm not even sure it's as funny as Something, Something, Something Dark Side. I can't honestly recommend this unless you're a die-hard Family Guy fan or if you own the other two and absolutely have to see how it all turns out. But heed Seth MacFarlane's warning: lower your expectations.
For more TV on DVD reviews, check out the TV on DVD column at my blog, DigitalAirwaves.net.
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