The Simpsons Movie
Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary by James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Al Jean, Mike Scully, David Silverman, Dan Castellaneta, and joined by Yeardley Smith; Audio commentary by Directors David Silverman, Mike B. Anderson, Steven Dean Moore and Rich Moore; Deleted Scenes; Alternative Ending; Homer’s Monologue On The Tonight Show; The Simpsons Judge American Idol; Homer Introduces American Idol; Let’s All Go To The Lobby; Alternate Character Designs by the Directors and Matt Groening; Russ Cargill – ‘Levels’; Springfield News; DMV; Sausage Truck; Emperor Moe; Special Stuff.
HOMER Simpson has never been one to think before he speaks. In the opening moments of The Simpsons Movie he wittily declares: “I can’t believe we’re paying for something we get to see on TV! Everyone in this theatre is a sucker!”
Whether that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy largely depends on how much you’re expecting from the movie. Contrary to widespread concerns over the length of time it took to make, The Simpsons Movie makes the leap from small screen to big in competent fashion.
It’s consistently amusing, a little more risque than its TV counterpart and there’s no denying the pleasure fans will get from seeing their favourite characters on a bigger screen for almost 90 minutes. But after all the waiting and the hype, there is a nagging sense of “is that it?”
The Simpsons Movie is good, but never great, and funny without ever being hysterical. Whereas the best animated movies (such as Pixar’s forthcoming Ratatouille) can take your breath away, this merely ticks all the right boxes without ever really feeling like its stretching itself.
That said, given the quality of writing associated with this long-running series, the smile quota remains impressively high and co-creators Matt Groening and Al Jean seem to have adopted an “if it aint broke, why fix it” approach.
That said, given the high levels of secrecy surrounding the project, it’s a little disappointing to find that the closely guarded plot isn’t really that groundbreaking or special.
Springfield is faced with an environmental catastrophe, so its residents decide to stop dumping waste in its lake. That is until Homer Simpson inadvertently breaks the ban and causes a toxic disaster of epic proportions.
As a result, the government cordons off Springfield much to the chagrin of its occupants, all of whom take it upon themselves to lynch Homer and family. Rather than face the music, however, the Simpsons escape to Alaska and lead a quiet life until learning of the government’s next plan for their hometown and return to save the day.
The ensuing adventure finds Homer stepping up to family responsibility and doing his bit for the environment – but crucially without resorting to the preachy, touchy-feely values that bedevil so many family movies.
In cinematic form, The Simpsons retains its acerbic wit and mean-spirited sense of fun. As a result, many of the biggest laughs come from watching Homer and co humiliate themselves, especially when Bart is dared to skateboard naked or Homer adopts a pig and makes up a terrific song.
There are also potshots at everything from pop culture to politics, with some terrific gags coming at the expense of actors-turned-politicians, entertainment corporations such as Disney and America’s environmental policies.
It’s just that as fun as proceedings remain, it never really stretches itself as far creatively as it might given the size of its new playing field.
Fans of the show have every right to expect more, particularly as – like Homer states – they’re now being forced to pay for it. Newcomers, meanwhile, might wonder what The Simpsons phenomenon is all about, even though they’ll probably emerge just as entertained.
So while Groening, Jean and their talented cast of voice actors deserve credit for finally getting the movie finished, they maintain standards rather than surpass them. And that in its own small way is somewhat disappointing.
The Simpsons Movie is fun while it lasts but fans may be shouting “d’oh!” at the opportunities it misses. That said, the end credits suggest a sequel won’t be far off.
Running time: 86mins
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- Read our review
- Matt Groening interview
- Al Jean interview
- The Simpsons Movie shoots to top of US box office
- View photos from the film