Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Archive: "The Simpsons Movie" (2007)

In the opening of "The Simspons Movie," Homer calls every person in the theater a sucker. He wonders aloud why anybody would be stupid enough to pay money to come see what they could just sit at home and watch for free on TV. Well, we all must be suckers because many people are racing out to see this movie; if half the people who have ever enjoyed at least one Simspons episode go see this movie, it will be a huge success. It's actually already been a success even before it hit theaters with rumors of a Simpsons movie rumbling around since the mid-90s. For a show that's been around for 18 years with a little over 400 episodes and counting, this is one animated family that has definitely made its niche in today's pop culture.

Eleven writers were involved with the movie, all of which have helped to produce at least one episode at some point. The film's irreverence derives from the show itself and the same good-natured, cheerful, and randomly absurd humor we have come to expect. Fans will also be happy to note that nearly every character from Springfield makes an appearance, and there are also plenty of the familiar voice actors like Dan Castellaneta and Hank Azaria. The Simspons show has had somewhat of a slump recently, and so, although obviously not as good as when Simspons was at its best, the movie is actually better than most of the recent episodes. It comes as a sort of reinvigoration for fans.

There is a plot, but it's mostly just a series of rolling jokes with one individually funny scene bumping into another. There's something about Homer getting a pig who he calls Spider-Pig and Harry Plopper, and also something about a sinkhole in the backyard that Homer covers up with a sandbox. There's something, too, about a most humorous way that Homer fishes, which furthers Bart into realizing his dad's a chump. Anyway, the lake in Springfield is awfully polluted, and just when the citizens start becoming aware, Homer screws it all up by dumping his giant silo labeled "pig crap" into the lake. Things get worse, and the government Environmental Protection Agency quarantines the entire city with a giant dome. Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie all escape, however, and plan to start a new life in Alaska where everything's a fresh beginning. But when they discover that their hometown is in grave danger, they take action.

What's so great about the movie is that there's more consideration put into depth than length. The fun is in the details with all the relentless tossing of jokes, smartly-placed pop culture references, and best yet, clever self-references. There's a hilarious jab at FOX's obnoxious style of self-promotion when a marquee advertisement at one point scrolls across the bottom of the screen. In the signature opener, Bart writes on his detention chalkboard, "I will not illegally download this movie." Later, he goes on a naked skateboard dash when, for just a brief moment, there's actually not something there to cover him. Flanders points out Springfield's bordering states: Ohio, Nevada, Maine and Kentucky. (How convenient!) And then in the credits, Maggie's first word is "sequel." Oh, and Arnold Schwarzenegger is the president. There's even an appearance by Tom Hanks (voiced by himself), to go with the show's trademark of big-name cameos.

I laughed all throughout "The Simspons Movie" in all varying degrees of smirks, chuckles, and belly-laughs. I enjoyed the first half better only because the plot wears pretty thin after awhile. Even so, the makers do everything in their power to remain loyal to their fans, who will not be at all disappointed. Even if you're not a hardcore fan, there's plenty to enjoy as it's a movie that's simply too spirited to dislike. As an added surprise, there's even a sentimental moment when Homer has a comically hallucinogenic epiphany about the importance of family, which adds a touch of emotion unexperienced by the series before now. Aside from that, the movie doesn't take any chances, but then again, why mess with the formula? This yellow, four-fingered family's translation onto the big screen is as witty, energetic, clever, and fun as anybody could have ever asked for.

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