Legacy Content

Toon Talk: From the Other Side - The Simpsons Movie
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by Kirby Holt (archives)
July 30, 2007
Kirby reviews the long awaited release based on the hit television movie, The Simpsons Movie.
Toon Talk: Disney Film and DVD Reviews
by Kirby C. Holt

(c) Twentieth Century Fox
Toon Talk: The Simpsons Movie
(c) Twentieth Century Fox
MPAA Rating: PG-13

I Am Dubious (Yellow)

Close to twenty years ago, cartoonist Matt Groening’s yellow-skinned dysfunctional family made their first jaggedly drawn appearance on the now long-gone Fox skit-com The Tracey Ullman Show. A spin-off series followed, becoming an instant pop culture phenomenon that continues to this day. After hundreds of episodes, dozens of catch phrases and a host of celebrity guest stars, The Simpsons ranks as the longest running animated series and comedy series in television history.

Now, the event fans have long anticipated has finally arrived with the debut of the first big screen adventure of Homer and company, The Simpsons Movie (now in theaters). And while the film is laugh-out-loud funny at times, the end result does not entirely justify the wait.

(c) Twentieth Century Fox

Opening on a typical day in Springfield (famous rock band - in this case, Green Day - is killed tragically due to the indifference of the citizenry), the movie sets up its super-sized plot when ol’ Grandpa Simpson succumbs to a prophetic vision from the heavens right in the middle of Sunday services. Marge (voiced by Julie Kavner) is typically concerned, but Homer (Dan Castellaneta, who also, like most of the cast, voices multiple characters) would rather play with his new pet pig. Meanwhile, Lisa (Yeardley Smith) takes a shine for the new boy in town (who shares her ecological bent) and Bart (Nancy Cartwright), humiliated in public by his father for the last time, takes on neighbor Ned Flanders (Harry Shearer) as a surrogate father figure. This is all a set up for when, after Homer causes yet another disaster to fall on Springfield, they are run out of town, leading the family to bond together, very-special-episode style, to simultaneously return to and rescue from destruction the ‘burg they call home.

Blown up to widescreen proportions, the series’ well-trod brand of humor works at times, such as when Bart skateboards through town au naturale. Yet, as is common for the series these days, they never know when to stop telling the joke; for example, after his Austin Powerish escapade, naked Bart is left handcuffed to a flag pole for what seems like an eternity. Draining the mirth for all its worth, these patented awkward silences (a hallmark of the series) echo deafeningly in a vast movie theater.

The film takes full advantage of the fact that they are now free of network censor constraints, with some surprising words popping out of these familiar mouths. While I don’t blame or begrudge them this (appearances by little Bart and Homer’s middle fingers are hilarious), it does go too far by the time we see bus driver Otto toking on a bong.

After 18 seasons on the air, one wonders what else can be said, and that is carried over to the film, which bends over backwards, clinging to its over-plotted core. To put it bluntly, the best work of the writers (always the key players in the Simpsons universe) is behind them. Groening, producer James L. Brooks and their nine (!) credited co-writers (with at least four more uncredited) have concocted what is basically a good, 87-minute Simpsons episode, but is that really enough to satisfy not only the usual fan base, but typical movie-goers as well?

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