Way past its sell by date, Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy feature film announcement has predictably drawn only ire.
This week, Seth MacFarlane revealed via Twitter that there would be a Family Guy feature film… eventually:
As this ‘bombshell’ crashed to the ground, it measured a resounding zero shits given on the Richter scale of film news. A proportion of the few that did respond to the underwhelming news did so with a sense of cynicism and bemusement:
@SethMacFarlane what will you do with the movie that you can’t do on tv?
How does a show as seemingly popular as Family Guy fail so miserably to generate a modicum of enthusiasm with regards to a potential feature film announcement? As someone who purchased the first three series of Family Guy on DVD, I was as disappointed as anybody when the show was cancelled. When the news arrived that Fox was reviving the series in 2005 for a fourth season many, including myself, were delighted. However, what followed was a nose-dive in quality comparable to a kamikaze pilot with lead in his sinuses.
In 2006, South Park depicted the Family Guy writing staff as a tank of manatees, randomly generating the show’s gags
The show was virtually unrecognisable. The sitcom formula had all but vanished and the morality that drove the characters had evaporated. All that remained was a cluster fuck of arbitrary pop culture references, recycled material and Star Wars sketches jammed in to 20-or-so minutes. It had become the animation equivalent of The Three Stooges trying to get through a door frame. It frustrated and alienated a certain element of the original fanbase. What became clear was that the writers were focused on chasing the easy laughs and ‘risqué’ gags rather than building to a rewarding conclusion at the end of an episode.
In 2006, South Park aired the episodes Cartoon Wars Part 1 and 2. It made a scathing critique of the mindless writing technique that Family Guy had come to be associated with. It depicted the Family Guy writing staff as a tank of manatees, randomly selecting balls with words on them in order to generate the show’s gags. South Park creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, later revealed that they had received flowers from the producers of The Simpsons and phone calls of admiration from the creators of King of The Hill. This was indicative of how Family Guy had come to be viewed amongst its peers.
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When compared to other long running animations, Family Guy is endowed like Theon Greyjoy on a brisk winter’s morning. It lacks the intelligent humour, moral driven narrative and relatable family dysfunction of The Simpsons, while it’s left choking on South Park’s dust with regards to social commentary, relevance and devilishly cutting satire. Even on Adult Swim, Family Guy struggles to hold its own when compared with the fine array of cult animation. There’s very little character development or story progression that lives up to the likes of The Venture Brothers or Frisky Dingo. Frankly, it’s a damn shame that we live in a world where the subtlety of humour and cultural observations of The Boondocks are yet to receive the mass adoration lavished on an anthropomorphised dog singing a show tune.
Every Family Guy cutaway joke is like an embarrassing acknowledgement that the show is now bereft of narrative or structure
It’s little wonder that, outside of the diehard fan base, the news of a Family Guy feature film is capable of raising fewer eyebrows than Joan Rivers. Watching an episode of the current season is a hollow, unimaginative experience. Every cutaway joke is like an embarrassing acknowledgement that the show is now bereft of a narrative or structure. The show’s writers appear to be struggling for inspiration and originality to fill 25 minutes, so quite how they expect to entertain an audience for 90 minutes is bewildering.
Of course, I may very well eat these words. Seth MacFarlane could pull a ‘McConaughey’ i.e. a Family Guy feature film that gains him the lost admiration and respect of his audience and peers. However, current evidence would suggest that a Family Guy feature would resemble something of an ‘Elvis’. That is, a final horrific bowel movement that sees the series keel over and shed the last of its dignity.
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All images: Fox