review for Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story on AllMovie

Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story (2005)
by Derek Armstrong review

After it became clear Family Guy DVDs were selling through the roof, Fox execs were forced to acknowledge an ongoing market for their canceled animated sitcom, prompting its return to the prime-time airwaves. So it should be no surprise that Fox would continue milking its sudden cash cow through special DVD releases, reeling consumers in with banners like "previously unseen!" and "too hot for TV!" This explains the existence of Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story, which is a lot less of an "event" than advertised, and barely any hotter than the already envelope-pushing standards of Seth MacFarlane's brilliant satire. Nor is this a "movie" in the traditional sense of Beavis and Butt-Head or SpongeBob SquarePants expanding their TV offerings into legitimate feature-length adventures. In fact, so clearly is this just three episodes linked together by reasonable segues, the writers are even credited depending on whether they worked on Part I, II, or III. The one gesture toward grander ambitions comes in the department of breaking the fourth wall -- showing the characters involved in bloopers, and arriving drunk to their own movie premiere. But this type of self-awareness is already part and parcel to MacFarlane's show. The narrative contains some "big" issues -- megalomaniacal baby Stewie jumps forward in time to see a future version of himself -- but even this is not substantially "different" from the show. If The Untold Story is a little disappointing, it's probably because the 30-minute incarnation of Family Guy sets such regularly high standards, there may be nowhere for a movie to go. Especially when one suspects its backers are merely trying to cash in on a phenomenon they once abandoned for dead.