The Simpsons Movie

Mmmmmmmm Simpsons (drool sound effect.) After 18 years, 400 episodes and a gazillion dollars from merchandising (Simpsons toilet paper anyone?), everyone’s favorite yellow family finally made it to the big screen last summer. While some films can only be appreciated in the theater and others become boring once you know the plot, The Simpsons Movie, like a good bottle of wine, only gets better with age. If you missed gags like the Alaskan bar named "Eski-Moe's", or if you just want to sneak another look at Bart’s pecker (you know who you are), you need to buy this DVD faster than you can say “woo-hoo.” In creating the story for The Simpsons Movie, the writers basically pilfered classic episodes (e.g. replacing Pinchy with Spider-pig), mixed in some contemporary humor and then made sure to have as much Homer as possible, since everyone knows Marge or Lisa centered episodes generally stink worse than a silo filled with pig poo. In the end, the plot returns to The Simpsons’ deepest roots: Homer screws up big time and desperately tries to earn back the love and respect of his family.

The film begins with fifteen minutes of gags Simpsons aficionados will devour, but it’s when Homer first sets eyes on a “pig wearing a hat," that the main plot begins. While enjoying one of the greasiest burgers outside of Mexico, Homer rescues “Spider-Pig” from the meat cleaver and brings him home to wreak havoc on Marge’s floors. Meanwhile, Lisa launches an Al Gore inspired campaign to save Springfield Lake, but it’s only when Mayor Quimby designates Springfield’s environmental situation “code black” (no offense Carl) that the town bands together to prevent dumping in the lake. Little do they know that even an idiot-proof barrier can’t keep Homer out when he needs a quick and easy place to dispose of Spider-Pig’s droppings.

After Homer’s carelessness turns the lake into a mutant breeding ground, dooming Springfield to a fate worse than death, he becomes public enemy number one. Meanwhile, Bart begins to wonder if he’d be happier doodley-oodleing with Ned Flanders, Lisa pines away for an Irish environmentalist who is in no way related to Bono, and Marge begins to wonder just how many times she can forgive her husband’s indiscretions.

No one is safe from the parodying hands of The Simpsons writers, not even themselves. After sitting through the Itchy and Scratchy movie, Homer asks the audience why anyone would pay for something they get free on TV? The answer is 87-minutes of non-stop laughter, nailing everyone from Walt Disney, Grand Theft Auto, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and of course, the Fox network. Not to mention the film is the only place you can learn the four states that border Springfield and see one of the characters come out of the closet!

Some have complained The Simpsons Movie isn’t so much a movie as an extended episode, but that’s exactly what makes it great. True we’re missing some of the best characters (where’s Sideshow Bob?) and not many scenes take place at the power plant, elementary school or in Moe’s, but the newer setting just helps to distinguish the film from the hundreds of episodes we’ve already seen. At the end of the day, if you are a Simpsons fan, you’ll want to own this DVD. If you aren’t, well then in the words of Comic Book Guy, “worst taste ever!” The promos for The Simpsons Movie often began with, “See the Simpsons as you’ve never seen them before,” and the enhanced 2-D look is truly incredible, even on the small screen. The widescreen, Dolby DTS Surround Sound DVD comes with a variety of features, but the film itself is certainly the main attraction.

Bypass a sleeping Homer in the main menu to get to the “Special Features” screen, where you have the option of commentary with James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Al Jean, Mike Scully, David Silverman, Dan Castellaneta, Yeardley Smith, and a partridge in a pear tree. Keeping up with the chorus of voices, a “Director’s Commentary’ feature consists of comments from David Silverman, Mike B. Anderson, Steven Dean Moore and Rich Moore all at once. Both interestingly enough were recorded before the film was released, so the commentators all desperately vie for the audience’s approval. The commentary itself is pretty interesting, especially for long-time Simpsons fans who will learn insider information about how the film came to be, but with so many people talking at once, it can get a little confusing and redundant at times.

The DVD also includes several deleted scenes including one hysterical clip featuring Homer and a sausage van. Under a menu titled “Special Stuff”, you can see some of the hysterical promos Fox did leading up to the theatrical release, including the Simpsons’ appearance on American Idol where they fed Simon Cowell to the lions. Sadly there is no extra Itchy and Scratchy and no Spider-Pig video, so fans hoping to get that song out of their head will have to YouTube it instead. For those that contributed to the 400 million in international box office sales, this film is offered in Spanish and French, with Spanish and English subtitles.