The Simpsons Movie (2007)
The Simpsons Movie (2007)

Genre: Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 27 min.

Release Date: July 27th, 2007 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: David Silverman Actors: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, Pamela Hayden, Tress MacNeille, Albert Brooks

 


 

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oking fun at popular culture, the zeitgeist from the ‘80s onward, and everything politically and socially recognizable (or worth lampooning), “The Simpsons Movie” is a project that should have come to fruition years ago – and indeed, it was started in 2003, with eventually over 150 drafts of the script getting written. One of the most famous TV shows around, it seems only natural that a feature-length animated film should find its way into theaters. Unfortunately, in its long-awaited moment in the limelight, it can’t manage to present itself as much more than a couple of regular episodes tied together – a mistake made by almost every television-series-to-theatrical-movie adaptation.

Young Bart Simpson (Nancy Cartwright) deals with the realization that his father, Homer (Dan Castellaneta), doesn’t express his love the same way as the overly rational next-door neighbor, Flanders (Harry Shearer). At the same time, Lisa (Yeardley Smith) combats the townsfolk, who ignore her pleas to clean up the polluted Lake Springfield, as she joins forces with a like-minded, eco-friendly boy named Colin (Tress MacNeille). And Marge (Julie Kavner) tries to decipher a mysterious message relayed from Grampa after he is possessed by supernatural forces in church. While the Simpson family appears to be doing something useful, Bart and Homer occupy most of their time with “dare” contests – one of which results in Bart streaking to Krusty Burger and getting arrested.

Eventually, Lake Springfield becomes so overridden by pollution and garbage (chiefly after Homer dumps a silo of pig waste into it) that the government (commanded by a man of extremely few words, President Schwarzenegger) decides to place a giant, impenetrable dome over the top of the entire city. As conditions worsen in Springfield – due to its complete segregation from the outside world – the Simpson family manages to escape to Alaska. But the notion of saving their friends and acquaintances from the horrors of total, self-destructive isolation proves to be powerful enough to contemplate a return and a rescue plan.

It’s safe to say that anyone who hasn’t seen at least a few episodes of “The Simpsons” – the longest-running prime time, animated television show, started back in 1989 – should probably steer clear of this venture. Although it sports references to current events, and presents universally appealing jokes, the major attraction of any adaptation is at least a moderate familiarity with the recurring characters. This obviously detracts from the entertainment value for audiences unaccustomed to the exploits of this hilariously dysfunctional family.

Making fun of Greenday, the Titanic, the Three Stooges, religion, nudity, Spider-man, Harry Potter, Hillary Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Hanks, and countless other celebrities, movies, or pervasive mainstream perspectives, “The Simpsons Movie” is certainly not without its share of inspired jokes. However, the hilarity that can be reached within the boundaries of a PG-13 rating is never exploited to its fullest, while the humor rarely reaches beyond what is accomplished in the TV show itself. It may be a slightly different medium, but it feels too much like the writers didn’t want to take any risks with the material, resultantly falling into the classic predicament of resembling a mere handful of episodes loosely strung together by an overarching plot. With an idea this colossal, and potential to match its gigantic anticipation, one can’t help but wonder why the storyline wasn’t a little more involving, or why the jokes were so noticeably family-friendly.

Regardless, “The Simpsons Movie” pays heavy tribute to long-running concepts from the show, giving fans far more to digest than viewers who are only somewhat knowledgeable about the property’s enormous preexisting narrative. Fortunately, since it has a sizable following (and plenty of permeation into merchandise, theme park rides, and more), it won’t be difficult for this endeavor to perform favorably at the box office. And as Maggie foreshadows during the end credits, a sequel is most definitely already in the works.

– Mike Massie

  • 5/10