Thursday, December 31, 2009

Review - Something, Something, Something, Dark Side

Family Guy, Copyright 20th Century Fox
Something, Something, Something, Dark Side
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: December 22, 2009
Version Reviewed: 2009 DVD
Run Time: 54 minutes
Rating: Not Rated (but intended for mature audiences)

Family Guy's History With Star Wars

Family Guy is an animated TV show with a tendency to cut away to jokes and skits having little to nothing to do with the actual plot. Enough of these cut-away gags involved Star Wars that it was eventually decided that they needed to start getting the approval of Lucasfilm, the studio owning the Star Wars franchise. 

Lucasfilm was so easy going about these jokes that Family Guy decided to ask if they could basically parody the original Star Wars for an entire episode. This eventually became two episodes and a successful DVD release titled Blue Harvest, a reference to the code name used during the production of Return Of The Jedi. It did well enough to both warrant doing the whole trilogy and regretting the use of Blue Harvest as the title of the first parody.

The Movie

Chris, Copyright 20th Century FoxSomething, Something, Something, Dark Side (SSSDS) parodies Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and begins much as Blue Harvest did, which works well. It feels like a sequel, and gets us quickly to the parody. The characters of Star Wars are portrayed by Characters from Family Guy, and most of the casting choices are good ones. If one's not familiar with Star Wars or Family Guy, this movie is bound to be confusing, but that does beg the question of why they're watching this in the first place.

Speaking of which, I'm going to try to avoid major spoilers for this movie, but if you somehow still haven't seen The Empire Strikes Back, there will be spoilers.

I don't think SSSDS is as enjoyable as Blue Harvest. That, however doesn't mean much, because I loved Blue Harvest. There's no shame in being second to that, and SSSDS is definitely an enjoyable experience. There's tons of jokes, surprisingly good visuals, and the nostalgia factor of it parodying Empire is quite enjoyable.

One thing I don't like is that I feel like they missed out on several chances for jokes. They essentially parody an eighties commercial instead of parodying Chris / Luke in the bacta tank on Hoth. Granted, the only jokes I can really think of there is either Herbert / Obi-Wan showing up as a blue ghost and commenting on it, or Chris / Luke being ready to get out (and possibly drowning) before the other characters realize it, but my point is that I'd prefer it stick to parodying Star Wars. The commercial parody wasn't bad, but it had nothing to do with Star Wars to the point of actually being a joke cut from a previous episode with Peter / Han inserted into it.

Of the Star Wars parody opportunities they missed out on, though, I feel the biggest was Lando. Yeah, he's in it, but there's hardly any jokes that actually parody Lando. There's at least one good one, but I feel they could've done more. I also feel they could have cast him better. Recall my saying "most" of the casting choices were good? Well, for Lando, they used Mort Goldman.

Mort, Copyright 20th Century FoxI'm not theoretically opposed to this character being Lando, but his casting doesn't really add anything to the movie. You could have inserted almost any other character into his place and only have to change maybe one joke. The writers claim he was initially going to be Magic Johnson, who was sort of in Blue Harvest (he was voiced by Mike Henry), but they eventually settled on Mort.

Who would I have chosen for Lando? Meg. Yes, there's a running gag about her lack of a presence in these things, and she's not black, but neither is Mort, and there are a lot of joke opportunities by making her Lando. For one thing, Meg / Lando and Peter / Han could have a hostility towards each other that mirrors the Family Guy show, and it would add a whole new subtext to Lando's betrayal.

Here's two of the jokes I would pitch if I was in that writing room and Meg was Lando:

Introducing Meg / Lando
Peter / Han - Guys, meet, Lando, the only black guy in the galaxy.
Meg / Lando - I'm a girl, you bastard!
Peter / Han - You keep telling yourself that

On Rescuing Peter / Han as the Slave 1 flies off
Lois / Leia - Oh no! Does anybody know where they're taking him?
Meg / Lando (shiftily) - Um... No. No idea. He's lost forever.

I can't help but think the writing staff who put this together could take the premise of Meg as Lando and make something hilarious with it, but it's not to be. Oh well.

Bruce, Copyright 20th Century FoxWhen you get right down to it, though, I'm just nitpicking. This movie is hilarious, fun, and I can't wait for the next one. And besides which, they gave Bruce more lines in this one! Hooray!

What? Bruce is awesome. He's a nice, mellow guy who says funny things, and he was only in the first one briefly as Greedo. You can guess how well that turned out for him. He doesn't have a major role in this one, either, but he at least has a few lines and doesn't have to speak whatever weird language Greedo speaks.

Anyway, I've gotten off track. My score for the movie is:

3/4 stars


I was initially disappointed by the DVD because it didn't come with a digital copy of the movie like Blue Harvest did. The Blu-ray versions of the movie do, however, and it's a bit much to expect them to include a digital copy with every DVD when they're also trying to sell digital copies online. Nonetheless, it's a bit of a letdown given how generous they were with Blue Harvest.

My emo-lamenting the lack of a digital copy aside, this is a pretty sweet DVD. It comes with commentary, table reads from this and the next parody, animatic with commentary, a feature about the painted poster, and what they call a "fact-ups". The fact-ups feature is basically just the movie with commentary bubbles, or fact-ups, popping up. These fact-ups contain trivia and jokes, and it's a lot of fun to watch. I've chosen one of the earlier, more mundane fact-ups as an example to avoid spoilers:

Fact-Ups Example, Copyright 20th Century Fox

That's awesome. Knowing me, I'll probably watch this version more than the real thing, or at least until I can recite all the facts from memory as a means to annoys friends and family.

Overall, what's offered on the DVD is nothing groundbreaking and you get more with the Blu-ray versions (assuming you have a Blu-ray player, otherwise it's an expensive coaster), but what it has is good and I'm happy with it. My score for the DVD itself is:

3/4 stars


I don't have a Blu-ray player, but based on the surprisingly good visuals in this movie, I can picture it worth getting in HD. In addition, the Blu-ray version has these extras in addition to what's found on the DVD version:

Digital Copy
Deleted Scenes

I'm a bit miffed about the lack of deleted scenes on the DVD version, but they know if they're going to get guys like me to buy Blu-ray any earlier than they have to, they're going to have to bogart some of the extras.

As for the digital copy, you can get the standard definition for $9.99 on iTunes and the high definition for $14.99. I don't know what definition the copy that comes with the Blu-ray is, but it would cost $22.48 (plus shipping) as of the time of this review to buy the DVD on Amazon and the SD version on iTunes, which is $3.49 more than the cost of getting the Blu-ray on Amazon. In the end, if you want to have the DVD and a digital copy without going the Blu-ray route, it might cost a few bucks more than the Blu-ray, but at least you won't also be shelling out over a hundred dollars for a Blu-ray player.

The Lando-Meg Drawing

Click Lando-Meg for a larger version.

Ok, so this might have been less drawing and more going over the most generic image of Meg in existence and making her look like a bizarre hybrid of Lando Calrissian and Meg, but it gets the point across.

Or maybe she looks like the offspring of Lando and Lois? Lando and Peter? Whatever the case, this is how I would picture Lando-Meg based on what they did with Mort.

The more I think about it, the more possible jokes there are for Lando-Meg. I don't know what his/her/its name is, but you know that weird alien guy who accompanies Lando during the final battle of Return Of The Jedi? Would it not be both in keeping with the show and hilarious if there was a romance between that thing and Lando-Meg? Just saying.


  1. I agree, the Meg/Lando would have been much better. I'm looking forward to actually seeing this, as I loved Blue Harvest :D Awesome review, mate. Also, I like your glasses :D

  2. Great review Dan. I was debating on watching it (since most sequels are duds), but your review has helped me decide to chance it.

  3. Yes i have to agree with Midnight Quill even with the lack of deleted scenes and meg/lando, I still would probably get this. Thank you for this nice review. on a scale of 1-20 i give you a 19. which is rare... =)

  4. Wow, looks like you've got a stalker, Dan :P You must be so proud.

    Interesting review. It's not going to make me buy it (or the first one), but it's interesting nonetheless. I agree Meg had more potential.

  5. Lando's copilot during the Return of the Jedi was called Nien Nunb. Ok I am done being geeky.

  6. I'm expecting Meg to be Jabba the Hut, honestly.

  7. I think a large part of why they skipped the obvious Lando jokes was because the guys over at Robot Chicken did a ton of them in their own Star Wars parodies. With Seth Green (the voice of Chris) being one of the main writers for RC, it isn't as if they could reuse a joke and hope noone noticed. :)

  8. The irony is that they effectively DID do that. A variation of the last joke about Lando was in the second Robot Chicken SW special. It was done differently, but the joke was making a very similar comment about the same thing.

  9. Hanataru - Yeah, that's my guess too. Or maybe the Rancor, which would fit how they've used her better. In either case, I think it's better that they didn't make her Lando, although I agree that they didn't use Mort to his full potential.

    I have to say I think they made a poor choice with Carter as the Emperor. I don't know why they didn't go with Death like they'd planned, the fact-ups didn't go into detail.

    The Giant Chicken's appearance was far too brief, but I hope to see him and Peter spend at least five minutes smashing up Jabba's barge in the next one.

    For me, the highlights were the ATAT groaning in pain, Holden Caulfield (the "Big Fat Phoney" guy) playing Admiral Ozzel, most of Yoda's dialogue, and Leia telling Luke to wave his other hand. Oh, and the Back to the Future bit, which I won't give away.

  10. I think using Mort as Lando was great. The joke wasn't in his lines, but just in the portrayal of the character. Lando Calrissian is the smoothest mother f*cker in the whole Star Wars universe. He smiles, and the galaxy starts throwing money at him. Mort is a whiny, nasal, hypochondiac Jewish stereotype. He's the polar opposite of Lando. It's the visual equivalent of dressing up The Unabomber as Mr. McFeely (the mailman on Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood).

    Only other thing I can think of is I liked Robot Chicken's version of Luke vs. ATAT better (when he grenaded the guy taking a dump).

  11. I can understand the logic behind the juxtaposition viewpoint, and I agree that it could have been funny. I just don't think it was funny enough as they did it, and I would've preferred more Lando-specific jokes beyond the final one and "haha, look who Lando is".