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Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment release Family Guy Presents: Stewie Griffin - The Untold Story on 24th October 2005. Taking the episodes Stewie B. Goode, Bango Was His Name Oh and Stu & Stewie’s Excellent Adventure and book-ending them with premiere footage (animated, of course), this Family Guy movie teases us with the promise of revelations regarding Stewie’s existence.

Family Guy Presents: Stewie Griffin - The Untold Story

Film


Family Guy Bigger, Longer and Uncut?

As we join our dysfunctional family, they are turning up for the Grand Premiere of the Family Guy Movie. Everyone from Mayor West to Evil Closet Monkey is in attendance, and we are treated to a few choice trailers before the main event. And then the fun starts.

Now the main thing about Family Guy is the laughs, but like other animated comedies there is the usual matter of some semblance of plot. As this is really three episodes strung together with a common theme we also get a fair smattering of stories to keep us occupied. Part one sows the seeds of our little adventure, with Stewie’s usual quest to destroy all who stand in his way going somewhat pear-shaped at a swimming lesson. The resulting near-death experience and the portrayal of a hell that may end up being his home for eternity guide Stewie towards the path of good. Or at least as good as he can get. Anger control is an issue though, and Brian’s solution leads to more trouble.

Part two kicks in with what seems to be a blatant advert for a digital video recorder, but it is in fact a useful plot device enabling Stewie to catch his first glimpse of his ‘father’. Well, someone else with a head shaped like a lemon anyway. Hitching a ride to San Francisco with Quagmire, Stewie and Brian leave the rest of the family behind. Not that any of them seem bothered. Peter and Lois want some alone time anyway—they just need to teach Chris and Meg the ways of lurve so they’ll sod off out of the house.

Part three, and Stewie has come face-to-face with...actually, I’ll leave that one alone. Suffice to say that San Francisco holds its surprises and we get a glimpse at the Griffins’ future.

Even with the middle section playing a bit like Road to Europe with Stewie and Brian heading off together on a grand adventure, there are plenty of signature Family Guy piss-takes and fallbacks but just a little closer to the edge of decency than usual. From Bono to Bugs Bunny, Jawas to Jesus, Stormtroopers to Susan Sarandon, twitching mobile phone users to Thundercats and beyond, no one is safe. And that Randy Newman? He just asks for it doesn’t he?

Family Guy Presents: Stewie Griffin - The Untold Story
All the family get a decent amount of screen time, with Peter making it into television (much to the annoyance of Tom Tucker), Lois gets to torture Chris, Brian gets to smack Stewie about, and Meg gets to, errm, smell Peter’s farts. Some of the supporting characters are giving short thrift though. Joe and Cleveland hardly show up at all, but Quagmire is used to good effect and his phone dialling method is novel, to say the least.

And what of the much vaunted ‘Uncensored’ nature of this here movie? Well, the F***-count is way lower than, say, the S***-count in South Park’s ‘It Hits the Fan’, and of the fourteen occurrences (hey, you wanna know don’t you?) only five are uttered from a Griffin mouth—although technically the other nine are from a relation. Peter’s hilarious and unexpected single utterance will never make it to the small screen, if only for the fact that a certain ‘Land of the Free’ gets dissed, and the rest just add to the impact of the lines. Less is more, if you know what I mean.

The ‘sexy’ nature of some of the scenes is undoubtedly ramped up a little (if you can call the sight of Peter’s ample gut sexy), a lot of the lines require you to be in full double entendre mode or you’ll miss them, and the others are put out there for all to hear. I would love to reel off all the one-liners, sight gags and the intricacies of the plot, but to be honest you’re better off experiencing them for yourself.

4ACX05, 4ACX06 & 4ACX07 will make it to TV and apparently with some bits that aren’t included here (probably to pad out the episodes after the multitude of cuts!), but if you want it raw then this is the one you want to get.

Family Guy Presents: Stewie Griffin - The Untold Story

Video


Being made up of normal ‘Made for TV’ episodes the movie is shown here in a normal 4:3 format, and it is generally a good transfer but not without its faults.

Apart from a little blocking on the fade in to the opening titles there is a tiny amount of edge enhancement, and the thicker dark lines around the characters can suffer from more noticeable aliasing (i.e. jaggies) than you would see on a live-action picture. It’s is nothing major, but it is evident throughout and there is one moment at around 44m48s where all the lines go inexplicably blurry (and it’s not the layer change as that is at 43m07s in chapter eighteen). However, the version of the same scene used in the animatic comparison is free from such a defect.

But that’s it as far as problems go and with an average bit-rate of 6.44Mb/s, which is quite good for a feature that by its very nature is not high on detail, this is still a decent presentation. Colour is just right and it all looks, well, like a cartoon, sorry, animated feature (!), should look.

We’re not here for stellar picture quality though. The film doesn’t demand it, and there’s nothing here that will keep you awake at night in terms of problems, but that doesn’t stop it being a fact that it could have been better.

Oh, and it’s probably worth mentioning that the subtitles are not entirely word-for-word when compared to the dialogue, but I’m sure that anyone needing them will still get the gist of the humour.

Audio


The decent picture is backed up by a solid, if unspectacular, Dolby Digital 5.1 English track. Everything is nice and clear here, from vocals to music to the heavier end of things. Surround trickery is at a minimum, but the track does fill the soundstage well with the front three speakers steering the bulk of the effects. The LFE channel does get a little bit of a work out but it never gets near to shaking your foundations, the biggest thuds being from Cleveland’s sound system in his tricked out ride near the start of the movie.

Family Guy Presents: Stewie Griffin - The Untold Story

Extras


We do get a couple of Family Guy oriented bonus features on the disc. The first includes a pair of animatic comparisons: ‘The Red Carpet Ceremony’ (4m40s) and ‘Road Trip/Dating Education’ (4m51s). Here you can change between storyboard, feature and side-by-side views (actually, the latter is more ‘top over bottom’) using the angle button on your remote to enjoy them however you want in all their 4:3, stereo glory.

Second on the menu is a cast and crew commentary featuring creator Seth McFarlane, Executive Producer David Goodman, Executive Producer (and writer of part one) Chris Sheridan, Director Pete Michels and some ‘special guests’. Like the main feature, the commentary does not shy away from the odd profanity but it is an entertaining track. This is the ‘second take’ though, as the first was deemed too chaotic. Some of the cast pop in at various points—Alex Borstein (Lois, and Tricia Takanawa) and Seth Green (Chris) join in for the duration of the second episode (which Ms. Borstein also wrote), and the third episode gives us writer Steve Callaghan and Meg herself, Mila Kunis. Even Stewie makes a suitably foul-mouthed appearance courtesy of Mr. McFarlane. The general pain of being cancelled, and the delight at being picked up again are touched on, along with the evolution of the movie itself.

And that, sadly, is it for the related content. The rest is all promotional fluff. There’s an extraordinarily brief American Dad preview (49s) and a set of trailers for DVD sets in ‘Coming Soon’ (24 Season 4, Angel, That 70’s Show, The Simpsons and Family Guy).

The commentary is more than worthwhile, but the rest doesn’t have much substance. The animatic comparison does show how closely storyboarded each episode is but otherwise it’s just a watch once affair.

Family Guy Presents: Stewie Griffin - The Untold Story

Overall


I greeted the announcement of the return of Family Guy with great glee, although the UK is still waiting to see the new episodes, and if this is a taster of what is to come then the enforced hiatus hasn’t left it missing a beat. This may be three mashed together episodes, but the narrative flows well enough to make a coherent main story to join the giggles together. As for the disc itself, the commentary is the only decent inclusion over the main event, but to be honest I’m just happy to see the movie.

Family Guy gets put down for not being The Simpsons and not being intelligent, but who wants to think about laughing? I just want to get on with it and this has enough laugh out loud moments for all those who do like the Griffin’s adventures for us to give a big f*** you to those who don’t.


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