Family Guy: Blue Harvest

Family Guy - Blue HarvestSynopsis: The laughs come full “Force” when the Griffin clan puts a freakin’ sweet spin on the greatest sci-fi saga ever told! With Peter playing the swashbuckling Han Solo, Lois as the sexy Princess Leia, Chris as an adolescent Luke Skywalker, Brian as a well-spoken Chewbacca and Stewie finally embracing his dark side as Darth Vader, who knows what will happen? Filled with outrageous gags, spaced-out droids and more intergalactic satire than you can shake a lightsaber at, this epic spoof is a must-own for every fan of Family Guy!

***********************************************************************

Family Guy: Blue Harvest 7.0

eyelights: the quality of the animation.
eyesores: its far too tight and sober recreation of the original movie. too many inside jokes for non-fans of the show.

“I sithed my pants! My diaper’s gone over to the darkside.”

I’m no great fan of ‘Family Guy’. While I find it funny in spurts, I don’t find it clever enough to warrant a serious investment of time; I’ve watched the first two seasons (the first of which consists of only 7 episodes) but lost interest by the third. There’s only so many musical numbers and verbatim homages that I can see before I get bored.

But then they spoofed the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy.

I just had to see THOSE.

The first of the series was broadcast as the opening episode of Season 6 back on September 23, 2007. Titled ‘Blue Harvest’ (after the working title for ‘Return of the Jedi’), it essentially retells the whole story of ‘Star Wars‘ but with the ‘Family Guy’ characters playing the parts of the films’ characters over the course of less than an hour.

The results are a mixed bag.

On the one hand, it’s amazing to see just how well they recreated many key sequences in ‘Star Wars’; surely they must have traced over some of them, while they sometimes actually lifted footage from the film. This episode is a quality production, there’s no two ways about it; it’s certainly more impressive than any of their regular episodes.

On the other hand, the episode follows ‘Star Wars’ so closely that it ties its hands behind its back, limiting the opportunities for original and/or clever humour. And when it does insert gags, they’re frequently inside jokes that only fans of the show will get, they’re uninspired, or they miss their target. ‘Blue Harvest’ is only mildly funny.

As per usual, the show also dabbles in insensitivity, in this case poking fun at obesity and cultural stereotypes. I know that we’re in an anti-political correctness wave these days, but this is the stuff of grade school kids. Then there’s the teenage humour, like its all too many references to pot. One is funny, two is too many, three is overkill.

Especially since it’s always the same gag. Repeated.

Especially since it’s always the same gag. Repeated.

Point made.

Another major ‘Family Guy’ flaw that infects ‘Blue Harvest’ is its predilection for making pop culture references and resting all its efforts on it. Here it makes references to ‘Airplane!‘, ‘The Breakfast Club‘ and ‘Vacation‘, amongst others, and essentially expects the audience to know the original gag to get laughs; it recycles other people’s laughs.

It’s an expression of the laziest form of humour: nothing original, just tons of rehashing. Preferably in brownie form.

There were a few inspired moments that poked fun at problems with the plot, such as when the Star Destroyer crew let the pod containing C-3P0 and R2-D2 fly by, the design flaw of the Death Star, or when the Stormtroopers are looking for Luke and Ben, find a locked door and move on instead of checking it. And they poke fun at the Special Editions.

But those moments are few and far between. Meanwhile we have to watch Ben’s musical number, singing “Time of my Life” to Luke (complete with dancing troopers), Magic Johnson’s instructional video for destroying the Death Star, Obi-Wan fighting Vader with a flaccid lightsaber (ah… clever sophomoric humour!) and bad puns (ex: “digest” instead of “digress”).

At times, the writers clearly don’t understand some of the basics of humour, which may explain much about the show as a whole: the scene in which Luke, Han and Chewy try to break Leia out of her cell, finds Han trying to stall in a funnier way than the original. Key rule of spoofing: don’t spoof something that’s already funny. ‘Family Guy’ doesn’t get that.

That is why they fail.

Don’t get me wrong: I laughed from time to time (Leia’s problems loading the video file in R2, or the Death Star mall concept – minus the disgusting product placement), but this could have been done MUCH better. It’s frickin’ “Star Wars’, for goodness’ sake! All of its weaknesses have been discussed ad nauseum since 1977, so there should be plenty to mine.

Alas, in trying to walk that fine line between respect and impertinence, ‘Blue Harvest’ ends up doing neither especially well and falls flat. You either spoof the damned thing, or you kiss its @$$. You don’t do both. In the end, we end up with a great-looking cartoon version of ‘Star Wars’, with mostly lame gags. Might as well just watch the film instead.

Still, it’s a major step up over the woefully bad ‘Spaceballs’.

Date of viewing: November 8, 2015

Advertisements

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s