Review of The Simpsons Movie (2007)

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Review #489 of 365
Movie Review of The Simpsons Movie (2007) [PG-13] 87 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $12.75
Where Viewed: Harkins Ciné Capri at Northfield 18, Denver, CO
When 1st Seen: 27 July 2007
Time: 5:00 pm
Film's Official WebsiteFilm's Trailer
DVD Release Date: 18 December 2007 (click date to purchase or pre-order)

Soundtrack: Download now from Green Day - The Simpsons Theme (From "The Simpsons Movie") - Single - or - order the CD below

Directed by: David Silverman (Monsters, Inc.)
Screenplay by: James L. Brooks (Spanglish) • Matt Groening ("The Simpsons") • Al Jean ("The Simpsons") • Ian Maxtone-Graham • George Meyer • David Mirkin • Mike Reiss • Mike Scully • Matt Selman • John Swartzwelder • Jon Vitti (based on the television series "The Simpsons" by James L. Brooks and Matt Groening)

Featured Voice Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Dan Castellaneta (The Pursuit of Happyness) • Julie Kavner (Click) • Nancy Cartwright ("The Replacements") • Yeardley Smith ("Dead Like Me") • Harry Shearer (For Your Consideration) • Hank Azaria ("Huff") • Marcia Wallace (Forever for Now ) • Pamela Hayden ("The Simpsons") • Albert Brooks (Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World)

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How long have fans of one of the longest running television shows in history, the longest running Fox Network show, the longest running animated television show, "The Simpsons" been waiting for their beloved yellow family to get onto the big screen? The answer is "way too long!" Some might argue so long that, indeed, the event has some sense of nearly being anti-climatic no matter how big an event the producers and marketing folks have tried to make this—including transforming real 7-Elevens across the country into Quick-E-Marts. The film should be an event film, and there really needed to be something special about the production that would elevate it into a new level. Purist fans of the show might disagree, but really, if the film is nothing more than an elongated episode of the television show, well, then, that's all it is.

"… brilliant moments … lively, fun, hilarious, and full of everything fans of the show would hope to experience. "
That's not to say, however, that the plot isn't terrific with the tremendous writing, voice, and production talents that have endeared the show to millions and spawned an empire of related products. Realistically, as big a fan of the show as I have been off and on throughout its history, whether it was control by Fox's Murdoch or whatever, the show lost its edge to "South Park" and other comedic satires on The Comedy Channel over time. Back in its first five years, "The Simpsons" pushed every button and pioneered the stunt casting in animated shows for others to mimic. The envelope was burst at the seams right out of the gate as creator Matt Groening's brilliant political and social commentary took on the establishment. The plot of the film, while grand, hilarious, and relevant, unfortunately, also comes across as a bit passé—not that working to solve the world's climate crisis and change our habits in how we USAers find our place in the global puzzle should ever become anything less that absolutely important, this is an issue that would have been ground-breaking and edgy for "The Simpsons" 5-7 years ago. All "Green Day" performances on a barge in the polluted Lake Springfield aside, and yes we can stand to hear the message over and over again from every source, and so should our children, but it doesn't change the fact that "The Simpsons" is a place to go further and not retread or retreat whatever the case. Maybe we should just be thrilled that Fox, despite what the Fox News Channel may be reporting, allowed this film's story to come to theatres. Perhaps the concession was that the fictional president for the film would be, in fact, the caricature of Arnold Schwarzenegger—whom has been a Republican Party presidential dream candidate hopeful despite the un-Constitutionality of him ever running for president as a naturalized citizen (which, incidentally, was written into the Constitution back by the founders of the nation precisely to prevent people of foreign birth ever from taking over the country). In any case, that's probably enough bashing of the plot. It's still a very good plotline to have followed, it's just disappointing that the writers had such a prime opportunity for some brilliant social satire they did not exploit.

As it goes, the plot is terrific. Homer falls in love with his pet pig which eventually leads him to a final confrontation with his selfish, often stomach-based, decision-making process that has caused millions to wonder what keeps Marge in this relationship. Grandpa, in a religiously enlightening scene is touched by the light of God and babbles some mysterious lines about thousands of eyes, and epah, epah, a twisted tail, and the end of their world. Marge is the only one who takes this event seriously putting up the coded lines on the door of the refrigerator using her magnetic alphabet letters. As the people of Springfield go about their lives, little Maggie Simpson, finally growing into her own, gets a boyfriend and a new cause—cleaning up the lake. So, in an Inconvenient Truth nod scene she demonstrates to the town why they must keep the lake pollution free and manages to accomplish the unthinkable. A doughnut sale, however, prods Homer to ignore Marge's words and dump the waste from Spider Pig into the lake causing it to become re-polluted to newly toxic levels and cause mutated creatures to appear upon coming in contact with it.

The chair of the EPA gives the president options to contain the polluted city, the result of which, and this was amazingly brilliant, the encasing of the town in a gigantic glass dome effectively isolating the miscreant town from the rest of the world. Nothing goes in or out. No one seems to be able to figure out how to dig under the dome either, for some reason, but this town isn't know for its geniuses. After a time of isolation and desolation, the townspeople begin to turn on each other and seek out the person responsible. Homer's reduced intelligence makes it easy for them to trace the tank of pig waste back to him, he's written "Return to Homer Simpson" right on the side of the tank they pull from the bottom of the lake. Well, in traditional Homer fashion, his solution to the town wanting to lynch him and his family, is, to escape.

The Critic, Martin Scooter Thompson, as a Simpsons Avatar
Get your own at the Official The Simpsons Movie Website.

That's all of the plot I'll spoil here. Suffice it to say that while, there's nothing groundbreaking in the social commentary, there is much ground to be broken in the Simpson family dynamics that has long been needed. Homer, effectively, needs to grow up. Bart deserves a real father. Marge deserves an equal partner in their marriage, not a guy who enables his pig to track mud all over the house and then even walk on the ceiling playing Spider-pig. So, these are things that have been a long time in coming. Homer will learn some valuable lessons and have to make some seriously stronger decisions in order to keep his beloved family together.

The voice cast is at the top of their game with most of the actors delivering several of the most cherished voices. The writing has some brilliant moments, my favorite of which was when the multi-eyed squirrel mutant pops out of the lake and the comment is made toward it, "Thank God for this intelligent design." Loved it! This is the kind of brilliance in the writing of "The Simpsons" we've grown to expect. Meanwhile, director David Silverman did a fabulous job of keeping this film moving, lively, fun, hilarious, and full of everything fans of the show would hope to experience. True, nothing was done or techniques used that couldn't have been done on the tv show with 4 (Too Be Continued) notes, but that doesn't diminish the fun of the experience of seeing The Simpsons on the big screen at last. P.S. Stay for the credits to hear Maggie's first word, it's worth the wait.

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Cast Members
Dan CastellanetaJulie KavnerNancy Cartwright
Yeardley SmithHarry ShearerHank Azaria
Marcia WallacePamela HaydenAlbert Brooks
David Silverman
James L. BrooksMatt GroeningAl Jean
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Review-lite The Simpsons Movie (2007) [max of 150 words]
Arguably, one of the obvious problems with the film is that they waited too long to make a "Simpsons" movie. The edge has dulled over time, and the former first family of tv social satire has been upstaged by "South Park" etc. Nonetheless, The Simpsons Movie is still a lot of fun, hilarious, full of good satire even if the main focus has been rendered nearly passé. This story finally forces Homer to grow up, and this is long, long overdue. It's a good film, but not quite the overall event probably most people were expecting.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Simpsons” is one animation series for which I just don’t have any words. Wondering why…simple, it is just amazing the way this series has been running for as long as twenty years and never ever it has suffered any issues like that of fan following and low ratings or anything like that. It is just incredible that the series can go on for so long with the same amount of liking for the show.