Family Guy: Blue Harvest
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this cartoon satire of Star Wars has some very adult-oriented humor (more verbal than visual), with references to sex, pedophilia, and drug use. The spoof of Star Wars' opening text prologue includes a recommendation of a lesser-known movie for its graphic sexual content. A few borderline swear words are used. Violence, at about the level of that in the live-action Star Wars (except it's all cartoon) includes spaceship and planet explosions, blaster shootings, and a few light saber decapitations. Newcomers to the Family Guy universe might not "get" a lot of insider references and characters.
What's the story?
FAMILY GUY: BLUE HARVEST is an episode of the nothing's-off-limits cartoon comedy Family Guy, taking a full hour to retell the story of the 1977 blockbuster Star Wars. A sudden power outage ends a session of slack-jawed TV viewing in the household of rotund, loudmouthed Rhode Islander Peter Griffin, but the family guy rises to the occasion by telling his brood a tale of "fathers and sons" -- the storyline of Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope. In this version, the Griffins, their friends, neighbors, Adam West, and recurring gag characters from the cartoon take on the roles of Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, and a disquietingly dirty-old-man-like Obi Wan-Kenobi.
Is it any good?
Fans (and even non-fans) may be a bit surprised by this extended "very special episode" of the animated sitcom that sometimes seems so full of pop-culture references and mini-parodies that the stories barely hold together. Not surprisingly, series creator Seth MacFarlane and the vocal cast seem to be having tons of fun with the Force, delivering big laughs at light speed; too bad they end the thing on a somewhat sour note, with young Chris Griffin/Luke Skywalker calling his storyteller father "a big jerk" and leaving (this is an inside-inside joke about Peter/Seth MacFarlane belittling cable TV satire Robot Chicken, done by Chris' voiceover actor Seth Green).
What's unexpected are some sequences that don't have gags at all but are just dead-on recreations of classic Lucasfilm moments, as the gag script follows the original storyline faithfully. Revelation: The Family Guy gang actually loves and respects George Lucas' history-making saga, and this spoof is as much a tribute as it is puns and non-sequitur references to Sanford and Son and Deal or No Deal. Among the DVD extras is a sit-down dialogue between Seth MacFarlane and George Lucas, who says his staff got a kick out of Blue Harvest.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the humor on display here. Sometimes Family Guy exhibits a pretty mean spirit when it spoofs popular culture, but the tone here is generally affectionate, maybe even...respectful. What accounts for the difference?
Ask kids about satires like Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein or Woody Allen's Shadows and Fog; can you sense the gagster's genuine fondness for the original material?
With a bit of a video search, you can put together a home mini-festival of Jedi parodies -- many created brilliantly outside the Hollywood system by low-budget amateurs, some of which gained the approval of George Lucas himself (Hardware Wars, TROOPS, George Lucas in Love, etc.)