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Overall Rating
4.15

Awesome44.87%
Worth A Look: 39.74%
Average: 6.41%
Pretty Bad: 3.85%
Total Crap: 5.13%

6 reviews, 42 user ratings



Simpsons Movie, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"As Tasty As A Pink-Frosted Donut With Extra Sprinkles"
5 stars

At this point in time, speaking strictly from a cultural standpoint, it could be argued that there are three different kinds of people when it comes to “The Simpsons”–there are those who have obsessively watched each and every one of the 400+ episodes that have aired over the course nearly two decades (it is by far the longest-running sitcom in television history) and can cite them chapter and verse right down to the most marginal details about the lives of the central characters–eternally boneheaded dad Homer (Dan Castellaneta), eternally patient mom Marge (Julie Kavner), eternally rebellious pre-teen son Bart (Nancy Cartwright), eternally righteous daughter Lisa (Yeardley Smith) and eternally pacified infant Maggie (Cartwright again)–and the cast of thousands surrounding them, those who used to watch the show years ago but who now claim that they never watch it anymore because it isn’t as funny as it used to be and those who, for one reason or another, never actually got around to watching it at all. The amazing thing about “The Simpsons Movie,” the long-discussed and eagerly anticipated feature film version, is that it has been designed and executed in a way that will appeal to each one of those distinct groups without alienating the others. Newcomers will be entertained by the irreverent humor and the surprising amount of genuine emotion to be found amidst the wackiness, longtime fans will be delighted by the sight of their favorite show playing on a much larger canvas (literally) than usual and even the naysayers, the ones who claim that the show hasn’t been worth watching since Clinton was in office, will be amazed and delighted by a storyline so strong and funny that it deserves to be ranked among the show’s all-time greatest episodes.

Since part of the fun of watching “The Simpsons” is watching how the central plot line gradually unfolds, I will try to be as brief and vague as possible with the plot recap. After years of environmental neglect have left Lake Springfield nearly toxic (as the members of Green Day fatefully discover), Lisa spearheads a town-wide campaign to clean up the area and prevent anyone from dumping there–even local mobster Fat Tony (Joe Mantegna) is barred from tossing in his “lawn clippings.” Alas, this rare bit of community unity is undone, as it usually is, by the clueless and thoughtless actions of Homer–after adopting a pig (don’t ask), he dumps an entire silo filled with its leavings (again, don’t ask) into Lake Springfield and the resulting ecological disaster causes Environmental Protection Agency head Russ Cargill (Albert Brooks) to seal off the town from the world via an impenetrable dome. Eventually, the other townspeople discover that Homer was responsible but before they can lynch him and the rest of the family, they manage to escape the dome and flee to the wilds of Alaska to start a new life. Before long, they learn of Cargill’s diabolical plans for the town and after some initial selfish hesitation–which leads to the rest of the family leaving him for good–Homer returns to Springfield in a last-ditch effort to save the very town that he nearly destroyed.

As is usually the case on “The Simpsons,” there are a couple of additional storylines running through the film that help to bolster the main plot line. In one, Bart begins to feel neglected by Homer after suffering a major public embarrassment (nudity is involved) and finds himself being drawn to the more traditional father figure embodied by goody-goody neighbor Ned Flanders (Harry Shearer), a man equally adept with a Bible verse and a cup of cocoa. At the same time, young firebrand Lisa find herself instantly smitten by Colin (Tress MacNeille), a new boy in town who is just as passionate about the environment as she is, just as adept with musical instruments as she is and who even has a cute Irish brogue for good measure. In addition, we also get an elaborate Itchy and Scratchy cartoon, an epiphany or two and even a cameo appearance from one of the few Hollywood megastars who somehow never got around to making an appearance on the show during its previous 18 seasons.

Over the years, there have been numerous attempts to take a still-running television show and transform it into a feature film. A couple of these attempts have been artistically successful–I’m thinking of “Beavis and Butthead Do America” and “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut”–but most of them tend to be lazy and unfocused wastes of time and energy that either take a typical TV episode and attempt to stretch it out into a feature-length narrative (such as the recent “Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters”) or haphazardly jam three or four episodes together into an ersatz narrative (such as the “Family Guy” direct-to-video feature). With “The Simpsons Movie,” director David Silverman and his army of screenwriters (all of whom who have worked on the show as writers and/or producers over the years) have actually sat down to create a fully-formed feature-length narrative of a scale and scope that couldn’t possibly be told within the parameters of a weekly half-hour television show. (A fairly daring one for a blockbuster summer entertainment when you consider that the story is basically a dark riff on the governmental ineptitude in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster.) And yet, even while the story is far more expansive than any seen previously attempted on the series, the film utilizes the same kind of structure as many of the best episodes–it begins with a series of seemingly random incidents that slowly but surely dovetail into what eventually becomes the central plot, it gives plenty of moments for the other denizens of Springfield to shine without losing focus of the story and it allows moments of genuine warmth and humanity to go hand in hand with what the MPAA has designated as “irreverent humor throughout.”

It is the presence of this last aspect that will probably most surprise those who have never encountered “The Simpsons” before and which will most delight the long-time fans. One of the key elements of the show that audiences responded to from the very first episodes was the fact that it didn’t treat its characters as if they were cartoons. Each one was created as a distinct human being with their own individual and highly recognizable traits and foibles–Homer may be a self-absorbed and clueless idiot but he clearly loved his family and would do anything in his limited power for them–and this is what audiences took away from the show when the initial buzz from the hype and the catch-phrases burned off. In recent years, the show has been criticized, not without reason, for letting this aspect fall by the wayside in order to make room for gimmicky plots and more celebrity cameos but “The Simpsons Movie” restores that realistic core and it helps to make the film all the better. It raises the stakes for the story and the characters and lends additional heft to what could have easily been one gag after another–there is one scene here that, in terms of basic emotional power, beats the stuffing out of the bathetic histrionics on display in the likes of “Evening.”

This attention to the characters and their natures are also key to some of the funniest moments in the film. For example (and I promise not to give away anything), there is a point in the film in which we hear a particular character swear. By the standards of contemporary profanity, it isn’t much of a swear and it is unlikely to shock or offend even the most easily shocked or offended viewers. However, given what we know about this character, even just within the confines of this film, to hear that particular word emerge from that particular person’s lips is such a hilarious and genuinely shocking moment that what might have ordinarily been a throwaway line is instead transformed into arguably its single biggest laugh.

Of course, not all of the jokes in the film are dependent on these emotional ties to earn their laughs. Instead of merely recycling familiar gags from the show or dumbing things down in order to play for audiences who have never been exposed to the series, the writers have jam-packed virtually every frame of the film with jokes–everything from broad sight gags to tiny little bits hidden in some of the corners–and so many of them work that even when the occasional dud crops up, you are usually laughing too hard from an earlier bit to really notice. To reveal too many of these moments would be a sin but there are two of them that are so wonderful that I would be remiss if I didn’t mention them. The first is the opening Itchy & Scratchy cartoon, a segment that is hysterically funny in its own right but which becomes downright inspired when it directly addresses something that many of the people working on the film must have faced at one point or another–the question of whether audiences will be willing to fork over their hard-earned money to see something in a movie theater that they could watch for free at home on DVD or in perpetual reruns. The other is one of the lines delivered by Albert Brooks as the EPA head in response to an accusation that he has gone mad with power: “Of course I’ve gone mad with power! Have you ever tried going mad without power? It’s boring and no one listens to you!” I don’t know which of the 11 credited writers came up with that particular line (for all I know, it could have been Brooks himself) but I hope that whoever did lit up a cigar at the end of the day in celebration of a job well done.

If there is a single complaint that viewers of “The Simpsons Movie” is likely to have, it is that even at roughly four times the length of an average TV episode, some of the beloved supporting characters, a cast of characters as vast and detailed as any found outside of the works of Charles Dickens, are either completely absent (such as Sideshow Bob and the aliens Kang and Kodos) or have sadly abbreviated absences (an entire film could be made from my all-time favorite character, the tyrannical C. Montgomery Burns). Then again, the rest of the film is so packed with humor and heart that it is likely that few people will miss them that much and besides, there is always the hope that they will turn up in what I expect will be an exceptionally large deleted scenes section of the eventual DVD. If not, perhaps they can find their way into the all-but-inevitable sequel, a potential film that will hopefully be just as great as “The Simpsons Movie” and which will hopefully take fewer than 18 years to reach theaters.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=16398&reviewer=389
originally posted: 07/27/07 14:00:00
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell i hate the simpsons could not pay me to watch 1 stars
10/22/14 Mario is the Best This movie is so funny! 5 stars
8/17/13 Shane Loved this movie soo much! 5 stars
4/14/13 Lindsay Naegle You're the five people I'm gonna meet in hell! 5 stars
9/20/12 Mike Miller Great movie. For all Simpsons fans! 4 stars
11/30/11 Dr.Lao Made me pine for the show's heyday 4 stars
3/14/11 Phineas Fuck the 20+ years of White / Middle America-hating writers of that show,and THIS MOVIE!!!! 1 stars
3/10/10 Giggles *looks down* Who the fuck doesn't like ths Simpsons? 4 stars
6/09/09 freak hilarious 5 stars
12/20/08 Travis the skateboard sequence, Bart skates naked through town you can actualy see his junk 4 stars
10/10/08 man extremely funny 5 stars
8/20/08 austin wertman loved it 5 stars
7/01/08 pin meh...like one long, not-so-great, episode. time to hang 'em up. thanks for the memories 3 stars
6/16/08 PAUL SHORTT UNAMUSING 1 stars
4/15/08 Andrew This movie was excellent, and too damn funny to be crapped at! You heard me. 5 stars
3/25/08 Isaac M. Baranoff Loved it. 5 stars
2/04/08 Derek Funny, but ending was disappointing 4 stars
1/31/08 Beck "Somebody Throw The Damn Bomb!" 5 stars
1/21/08 Indrid Cold I know it's cliche to say it long ago lost its edge, but sorry it's true. 3 stars
1/04/08 David Pollastrini worth the 17 year wait! 5 stars
10/07/07 jcjs I agree with RazorFang..i tried liking the Simpsons but couldn't watch 10 minutes of it.yuk 2 stars
9/08/07 Alice Nope 2 stars
8/27/07 Private Typical Simpsons. Average as a whole with some funny scenes/lines mixed in. 3 stars
8/27/07 RazorFang The Simpsons? Are you people fucking kidding me? 1 stars
8/14/07 Charles Tatum Very funny all the way through 4 stars
8/03/07 bat.serjo sick like a simpson. 4 stars
8/02/07 Jayne Dearie I am still laughing, Great Movie 5 stars
8/01/07 KingNeutron I laughed. A lot. Stay4credits. 4 stars
8/01/07 lucas great 5 stars
8/01/07 salemswildcat Once A Simpson Fan Still A Simpson Fan A+ 5 stars
7/31/07 Bored King This movie was great, I have the Spider Pig song stuck in my head. 5 stars
7/31/07 Chris Cama I think the whole world has been waiting for this movie and looking forward to a feel good 4 stars
7/30/07 Morghan Phoenix Better than the Itchy & Scratchy movie :P 4 stars
7/30/07 Gil Carlson They pulled it off! Hats off to Spider-Pig! 4 stars
7/30/07 Tom Murphy Great! Really funny jokes and good use of the movie format. 5 stars
7/30/07 Emilio I,m disappointed but I know is hard to create a movie and still develope the TV show 3 stars
7/30/07 bullit16 It almost made it worth having to sit through the last 8 unwatchable seasons on TV 4 stars
7/30/07 Ole Man Bourbon Cute, the fans will love its in-jokes, but a tad long 3 stars
7/28/07 Jimmy Battista 9.5 /10! Very well done! 5 stars
7/28/07 mike this was pretty boring actually. i'm really disappointed. 3 out of 10 2 stars
7/28/07 David Rosenfeld Ok, but spends a little too much time on the "Simpsons" and not the rest of characters. 4 stars
7/28/07 David Graham As tasty and enjoyable as homers favourite donut. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  27-Jul-2007 (PG-13)
  DVD: 18-Dec-2007

UK
  27-Jul-2007 (PG)

Australia
  26-Jul-2007




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