The Simpsons Movie (2007) / Animation-Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for animated nudity, violence, innuendo, language and a brief scene of drug use
Running time: 87 min.
Cast (voices): Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardly Smith, Harry Shearer, Hank Azaria, Albert Brooks, Joe Mantegna, Tom Hanks, Green Day (cameo)
Director: David Silverman
Screenplay: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, George Meyer, David Mirkin, Mike Reiss, Mike Scully, Matt Selman, John Swartzwelder, Jon Vitti
Review published July 28, 2007
Fans of the long-running animated television show should be delighted in seeing their small-screen idols given the big screen treatment, and with a PG-13 rating, getting a bit more ribald in the level of humor than they could with the stringent censorship on TV. We get to see Bart nude, Homer use his middle finger, Otto take a hit off of a bong, etc. For those who have followed "The Simpsons" over the nearly 20 years of its existence, I suppose it's worth the expense to see the characters, who haven't changed very much since their inception, in a different light.
This exploration into a bit more adult humor and language is about the only thing that sets this film apart, as it feel very much like an extended episode of the TV show in most other respects. The animation is pretty much consistent with what we've seen before, although some CGI elements have been added to some of the scenes to give it a more cinematic look, but they aren't really necessary or particularly impressive.
Just as "The Simpsons" show never used a plot except as a springboard to give their characters more jokes, the film version does the same. The story here is barebones: Homer dumps a silo of pig poop into the lake, polluting it severely, and causing biological mutations that send the EPA into employing extreme measures to contain it. The US government decides to seal off the area my putting a giant dome over Springfield, which means that no one can get in or out. Everyone's goes raving mad, especially at Homer for causing all of the turmoil, so it's up to the Simpsons to save face, save their town, and save their family unit.
Reviewing The Simpsons Movie seems a bit futile, as those who love the show will love the film, while those who never acquired a taste for it will not find anything in the film to change their opinions. A series that has been around as long and has been as popular already has its built-in fan base, and that base probably isn't going to increase much more than it already has through a movie alone. If you find yourself watching the TV show reruns, even if you've seen them before, and own even one of the seasons on DVD, you're probably the sort of person that will get a kick out of this bonus episode.
I won't spoil the film's best gags by going into great detail, as most of the appeal of "The Simpsons" in terms of humor is in being surprised by the actions or dialogue of the characters. Even if some of the jokes are not important to the plot, they are the real joy in watching a film like this. It's one of those movies where I could reveal every aspect of the plot from beginning to end and not ruin the experience for everyone, but if I rattled off my five favorite quips of the film, people will write me nasty e-mails for ruining their enjoyment of these priceless moments. In fact, I'm a little miffed that the trailers and ads for the film give away some of the best parts as it is. Besides, most people reading this review have probably watched at least one episode of the TV show, so I'm sure you know what to expect in terms of what the humor is like.
I like "The Simpsons" TV show, although I can't say that I am fanatical about it. Watching so many films doesn't afford me much time to get into TV anyway, but I do watch an occasional episode here and there. It's amusing, often hilarious, although some bits work better than others. That's exactly how I feel about this film as well. It's worthwhile for the choice laughs, even if it isn't always consistent the whole way through as to how funny or interesting it is. There are some lulls, particularly when the plot comes into play, as putting a dome over Springfield isn't really funny itself, and the events that transpire because of it aren't the best parts from a comedy standpoint. I'm not sure I even understand why the dome has been placed over the town with the inhabitants not being evacuated first, but asking for logic in a "Simpsons" story is already too much to think about. Whether it's funny or not is the only key.
For those who enjoy the intentionally scattershot nature of the TV show, I would wholeheartedly recommend The Simpsons Movie to you, as the film delivers on everything you've come to know and love bout the TV show. It's not any better than a typical episode in terms of quality, and probably doesn't merit that much fanfare, but it does deliver on everything you'd expect so long as you aren't expecting a huge upswing in laughs. Those who are more casual in their feelings toward the show may choose to do what they do with the TV counterpart -- catch it when there's not much else out there worth watching.
©2007 Vince Leo