Family Guy Presents: Stewie Griffin – The Untold Story
Cast: Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Seth Green, Mila Kunis, Lori Alan
Director: Pete Michels, Peter Shin
SUNY Purchase '05
"I don't compromise my values and I don't compromise my work. I won't give in." -Michael Moore
Family Guy Presents: Stewie Griffin – The Untold Story
Review By: Rocco Passafuime
Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin – The Untold Story
When the cult-hit animated sitcom Family Guy's plug was threatened to be pulled permanently by Fox, the fans made their enduring love for the series 100% clear. Broadcast reruns received high ratings for the fledgling Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block and DVD collections of the series were big sellers.
In the attempt to keep his beloved creation going, Seth Macfarlane and his team attempted to revive the series by making a feature-length story, either as a theatrical, televised, or straight-to-video release. However, once Fox ressurrected Family Guy in spring 2005, the studio decided to cash in on the renewed success of the series by having the creative team work their initial feature idea into a three-part loosely-connected adventure. The result is the rather unusually structured Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story.
The story focuses mostly on the extremely intelligent, yet highly megalomaniacal Stewie, the baby son of Peter and Lois Griffin. In the first third of the story, titled "Stewie B. Goode"Â, the aforementioned child has a brush with death while swimming in a community pool.
Determined to avoid the pitfalls of the underworld, Stewie makes an attempt to change his evil ways. Soon enough, the child is inspired to follow in the footsteps of his equally intelligent, but alcoholic family dog Brian, and goes on a bender with him.
In the second third, titled "And Bango Was His Name-O"Â, while watching TV, Stewie sees a man in San Francisco who looks exactly like him and is convinced he's his real father. With Brian in tow, they hitch a ride with ornery neighbor Quagmire in his Winnebago.
When Quagmire is tied up and mugged by a cleaning woman at a hotel stop, Stewie and Brian steal his RV and soon crash it. They survive the perils of the desert until they arrive in San Francisco, where Stewie confronts his would-be father, only to discover it's himself 34 years in the future.
In the final third, titled "Stu and Stewie's Excellent Adventure"Â, Stewie follows his future self Stu to his home time period. Stewie is soon horrified to discover his future self is a docile virgin working a job at an electronics store. To make matters worse, Stu lives in a low-rent condominium and his parents he swore to one day kill are still alive.
After an unsuccessful attempt to masculate Stu, which only further lowers his already pathetic status in life, Stewie travels back to the past. In a race against time, he rushes to preserve his ambition for world domination.
This would-be feature offshoot of Family Guy is nothing if not interestingly put together. Rather than go the traditional and usually failed route of creating mostly a centrally-plotted "big adventure"Â, McFarlane and his creative team choose to create a loosely plotted adventure more akin to three mostly separate episodes thinly linked together.
While fans of the
The first third in particular, "Stewie B. Goode"Â, while absolutely hilarious as a stand-alone episode, feels like filler as a feature. Technically, judged as a feature, it's ridden with endless filler from the sub-plots of the first two-thirds to even beyond the feature itself.
There are lengthy wraparounds that open and close the film of the Griffins and the townspeople of Quahog watching the story as a would-be film premiere. These often play like extended versions of the series signature' and seemingly random cutaway scenes.
Luckily for fans, MacFarlane and his team take full advantage of what is obviously studio dictation to bloat a loosely-developed story into a 90 minute feature. They do constantly hilarious and often shocking gags that the team most likely would never have been able to do on television, without a lot of it feeling forced.
The DVD's picture is in the 1:33:1 full frame standard of the original television broadcasts and the sound is in highly impressive Dolby 5.1 Surround. You also get the choice of watching the film censored or uncensored, which is a particular fringe benefit of watching Family Guy on video.
The DVD is packed with small, but neverthess enjoyable special features such as commentary with Seth Macfarlane and the series' cast and writers. The commentary is constantly informative and highly spirited as the team turns it into one big party and underscores their enjoyment of doing the series. It's also helpful in noting that much of the responsibility for the film's flaws was not down to the creative team, but Fox itself, which apparently demanded that the feature be 90 minutes, while easily broken into three separate episodes.
Another special feature is a well-put-together animatic comparison. It allows you to switch between the rough animatic and final production of choice scenes from the wraparounds using the alternate angle features on the DVD player. While this may be appealing to mainly die-hard animation fans, it's still a worthy bonus.
In technical terms, Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story is one of the few movies worthy of its straight-to-video status, with the loosely-connected story working more favorably for a feature offshoot of this kind of series. However, it's still only vaguely different from the series and seems rather pointless in light of the TV series' return. However, it's entertaining and hilarious enough to make it highly recommended to casual and hardcore Family Guy fans.
Movie Grade: C
Special Features Grade: B+
Overall Grade: C