Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin - The Untold Story
Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Mila Kunis, Seth Green
Directed By:
Pete Michels, Peter Shin

With the fortunate revival of the Family Guy television show, this straight-to-dvd release offers a nice side story to a main series that succeeds in oddball and envelope-pushing humor. For those not in the know, the Family Guy series is about Peter Griffin, a moronic oaf of a father from Quahog, Rhode Island, whose family and oddball friends always manage to get into all sorts of trouble. His family consists of a hot and promiscuous mother, dumb-witted son, pariah-like daughter, talking dog (that acts as Peter's conscience) and Stewie, the uber-smart world conqueror wannabe.

Bookended by a mock movie premier and rap party for the DVD movie, the story focuses in on Stewie, who has a near-death experience at the pool. After some other shenanigans by Peter, including a stint as a televised ranter for the local news, the story returns to Stewie, who sees an older man on the television who looks suspiciously like Stewie. Two plus two leads Stewie to believe this man is his real father, which of course means he has to travel out to San Francisco, sans parents, to confront this gentleman. I won't ruin the rest of the story, but events manage to resolve themselves in the twisted manner that's become a Family Guy standard.

Family Guy's humor benefits from a lot of shock humor and oddball send-ups of pop culture. If the show isn't letter Peter say something completely offensive, it's switching you back to a flashback of something the storywriters are sure to have grown up with. Indiana Jones, Kool-Aid and Bugs Bunny are the least of their pop culture references. Also, they like to throw insults at popular modern celebrities.

While the television show tends to have some real laugh-out-loud moments, the movie feels far more reserved, as if pacing itself. There are some sequences that are good for a laugh, like when Stewie and Brian get drunk and play Pac-Man, but there weren't any parts of the movie where I was rolling on the floor with laughter. That's not to say the movie wasn't funny, but it's obvious that more effort was put into telling the story this time around. Because of this, I would say that some of the subplots, like Lois and Peter's attempt at teaching their children how to get a date, aren't as fleshed as as they could be.

I will have to say that the pacing is far better in this feature than in some of the episodes. There's no filler jokes that play out too long and the multiple storylines, while somewhat segmented, are still integrated pretty well. Except for a joke intermission, the whole movie flows along pretty seamlessly.

The voice cast features everyone from the series (as it should as it was made at the same time as the newer episodes), but also brings in a lot of voice acting veterans and a ton of guest voices. Everyone from Jason Priestley and Tori Spelling to Michael Clarke Duncan and Drew Barrymore make appearances. With a comedy cartoon series like Family Guy, the cast proves to be one of the strengths, especially when it comes to delivering the lines well.

The DVD is referred to as the uncensored version, though there was no censored version released initially. The default setting is a censored version, but you can select the uncensored audio track in the menu. Is that much of a big deal? Not really. Except for one character that drops the f-word in excess, the "uncensored" label is pretty much mediocre in comparison to the likes of the South Park movie.

If you're a fan of the series, then you should definitely catch this movie. If you own all the DVDs, go ahead and pick this up as it will fit nicely with your collection. For those who haven't caught the show yet might want to pass on this one as some of the jokes are built on years of character development in the series and don't make sense to the uninitiated. Yes, this one is definitely a reward for the fans who helped bring the series back.

- - Kinderfeld

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