Finally, the long awaited Family Guy parody of "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back." With the high quality of "Blue Harvest" (it's my go to film on longish bus trips), I'd been looking forward to "Something Something Something Dark Side" for quite awhile. Unfortunately, while it is definately *good* Family Guy fare, it's not *great.*
From what I've seen of other reviews, the consensus would appear to be that if you're a Family Guy fan, you'll enjoy this and if you aren't, you won't enjoy it as much. While I do agree with this opinion, I *am* a Family Guy fan and have to say that I thought Blue Harvest was the far superior parody.
"Something Something Something Dark Side" does continue the high quality pop culture references we have come to expect from both "Blue Harvest" and other Family Guy fare. The problem here is that while "Blue Harvest" was fifty percent story and fifty percent references/jokes, "Something Something Something Dark Side" is 25% story and 75% joke/reference. That being said, I will give credit as the jokes and pop culture references are extremely well done. Unfortunately they are expected to carry the movie, and in that respect they don't work.
Once again, we have Stewie as Darth Vader, Peter as Han Solo, Lois as Princess Leia, Quagmire and Cleveland as C3P0 and R2-D2, and Chris as Luke Skywalker. These characters are all well used and well cast, unfortunately not once can any of the supporting characters make that same claim. Boba Fett's Family Guy counterpart was an interesting choice, but also benefitted from having only one line. As a Star Wars fan, I found Yoda and Lando did not interest me in the slightest (and I'd really like to know how it was they couldn't get Billy Dee Williams).
This second parody also suffers from an unfortunate lack of originality. In many ways, the very beginning and very ending of "Something Something Something Dark Side" and "Blue Harvest" are almost identical. I did, however, appreciate this being addressed during the opener as well as the brilliant shot at "Without a Paddle" during the final scene. However, it absolutely shocks me that, as creative as Family Guy writers can be, they couldn't come up with a different way to set up the movie?
I was also rather surprised at the degree of story that was sacrificed this time around. This sequel does not do the quality job of staying true to the source material that I felt "Blue Harvest" did. Much of the Bespin sequence felt incredibly rushed, and I was disappointed with much of the Dagobah portion being sacrificed for a Rocky IV Montage that I didn't clue in to until it was half way finished. Also, while I did appreciate the sprinkling of Star Wars trivia (referencing such things as Lando's wardrobe during the end sequence), I was also unimpressed with the "Back to the Future" reference that appeared to have been added in solely to make a "Back To The Future" reference.
With all that being said, "Something Something Something Dark Side" did have one very important thing going for it. When it's on it's game, it's very funny. The writers and animators clearly brought their A material to the Battle of Hoth.
In the end, this is a case of something where when it's good, it's very good and when it's bad, it's a disappointment. I can therefore give it merely a rental. A very high rental, but a rental none the less. This is a movie for getting together with your buddies, getting drunk, and having a good laugh.