By now ‘The Simpsons’ has been on television long enough that it’s passed from the realm of really popular, long-running television program into the stratosphere of uniquely American institution. Yes there are people out there somewhere who hate America’s first yellow family, and anyone who hasn’t seen a single episode of ‘The Simpsons’ will likely be totally lost. This movie is not for you. For the other 99% of you, get ready to laugh. Homer’s even better when he’s bigger.
For their silver screen adventure, a whose who of past Simpsons writers was brought together to craft a Simpsons Movie with a bit of everything. As all the best episodes of the show do, the plot revolves around the irresponsible behavior of the citizens of Springfield, and in particular Homer. Homer buys a pet pig, screws up big, and sends the town to hell in a hand basket. The Simpsons family and their city is thrown into turmoil and Homer must, in his own unique way, pick up the pieces and win his family back. Oh and there’s a bomb or something.
In turning America’s most popular animated family into movie stars, The Simpsons team has taken a page from the South Park movie and changed absolutely nothing about the way the show looks. Oh the two-dimensional drawings might be glossier than we’re used to watching them on TV, but they’re still two-dimension drawings colored in using outrageously unrealistic levels of yellow and pink. Instead of wasting time trying to turn Homer CGI, they’ve taken advantage of the property’s theatrical venue and its PG-13 rating to say and do some of the things they haven’t been allowed to on broadcast television (and I’m not just talking about Bart’s penis and Otto’s bong).
The Simpson’s Movie is a little edgier and a little riskier than the television show, though perhaps only by degrees, and in fact it’s done so smoothly that it’s doubtful that most Simpsons fans will even notice. The show has always taken sharp potshots at America’s most hallowed institutions; the movie version just pushes the point in a little further when you’re not looking. The result is a film that’s just as poignant as the TV show and in at times maybe even more clearly on target.
If there’s a problem with The Simpsons Movie it is that it’s pretty clearly only catering to existing Simpsons fans. The movie is put together almost like a reward to the show’s loyal viewers, a mish-mash of great Simpsonesc gags and a script which goes way out of its way to work in every character and running bit which has ever been a part of the show. Maybe in their fevered attempt to fit as much Simpsons trivia in as possible the story they’re telling becomes a bit muddled, but who cares. The movies best jokes are more often than not, completely random and self-referential, calling back to old Simpsons clichés and even the way in which the show is broadcast. It’s hilarious, though probably not to anyone who hasn’t already been watching it on television. Luckily, since everyone except the Taliban has at least seen an episode or two of ‘The Simpsons’, I think I’m safe in saying that if you believe women should be allowed to walk around with their faces uncovered you’re going to leave the theater loving The Simpsons Movie.