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Family Guy: It’s a Trap! (Blu-ray Review)

6 Jan, 2011 By: John Latchem

Animated Comedy
$22.98 DVD, $29.99 Blu-ray
Trilogy Boxed Set $34.98 three-DVD set, $39.99 three-disc Blu-ray
Not rated.
Voices of Seth MacFarlane, Seth Green, Alex Borstein, Mike Henry, Patrick Warburton, Mila Kunis.

Over the course of three “Star Wars” parodies, it’s almost as if the writers of “Family Guy” are using the sci-fi franchise to poke fun at their own show as much as anything. Just look at how much of It’s a Trap! consists merely of faithful re-creations of scenes from Return of the Jedi. Occasionally they’ll hang a joke on one of the set pieces, sometimes even directly spoofing the movie. But most of the gags are of the typical throwaway variety for which “Family Guy” has gained its reputation: observations of the mundane transplanted into a galaxy far, far away.

Seriously, what does Brian/Chewbacca shooting a laser at a beehive have to do with “Star Wars,” other than he happens to be on a forest planet, which evokes images of nature? Nothing really, but that’s kind of the point. One can only spoof something so much, and the degree to which the story and settings of the original films have been left untouched speaks not only to their timeless quality, but also how much the “Family Guy” creative team reveres them.

In most cases, the scenes had to be left in simply to advance the plot. While this sets up some nice visuals as the animators replicate the look of the original movie, it also leaves some gaps in the humor. Compare the approach to the “Robot Chicken” “Star Wars” spoofs, which are scene-specific and presented in most cases without the need for an overarching story. Even so, both are generally funny in their own right, and the best jokes are always the ones that directly poke fun at the movies.

Still, I can’t help but think the “Family Guy” folks left a lot of potential material on the table. Scenes that seem perfect for a ribbing escape unhindered, and an expected extended fight between Peter/Han and the Giant Chicken/Boba Fett never materializes (though in its place is one of the episode’s best gags). A lot of the jokes will be lost on viewers who aren’t familiar with “Family Guy,” let alone “Star Wars.”

This episode also affords the opportunity for the parody to fold back on itself with some meta-humor. Carrie Fisher, who voices a character on “Family Guy,” voices that character playing rebel leader Mon Mothma here. The circle is now complete.

The animation is gorgeous and really pops in high-definition. If anything, It’s a Trap! might actually enhance Return of the Jedi, especially in how it depicts the Ewoks as brutal warriors able to defeat an army of Imperial Stormtroopers. It’s amazing how much more savage the violence seems with a little added blood.

This is also the only entry among the three spoofs presented in widescreen, as the others were produced before the show switched to high-def. The Blu-ray also includes a lot of fun “Star Wars”-themed extras, such as a special message from Darth Stewie, some animation outtakes, a highly informative commentary with the creative team and a half-hour featurette in which four of the show’s producers play each other in a game of Star Wars Trivial Pursuit. If that alone doesn’t establish this disc’s geek credentials, I don’t know what does.

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