The Simpsons Movie
Runtime: 1 hr 27 min
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: David Silverman
Starring: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, Albert Brooks, Tress MacNeille
Succeeds as a labour of love.
Review by: TomElce
Added: 7 years ago
The Simpsons Movie is an extended episode of the hugely popular series, far removed from the quality of the show's best episodes but ultimately preferable to the general produce the series has thrown up during the noughties. Director David Silverman hasn't given us gold-standard, but he's given us an animated motion picture more deserving of an Oscar than Pixar's overpraised Ratatouille. Alas, The Simpsons Movie comes with an aftertaste, because it too has been made out to be something it isn't. Right now rated at 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie's a more uneven contribution than such a consesus would suggest. For every uproarious joke -- the brilliantly timed utterance of the phrase "Sir, I'm afraid you've gone mad with power" -- there's another attempt at humour that fails to hit the bullseye -- Spider-pig, anyone? Third-time viewing, the film (which took a staggering eleven screenwriters to come up with) gets the benefit of the doubt. Heck, one could argue it makes a preferable argument on the importance of retaining our planet's environment than that old montage of ominous graphs and thunderstorms that was the Al Gore-pimped An Inconvenient Truth (here succinctly parodied as An Irritating Truth).
Post-sinking of Green Day (a sequence that is made to feel even more unfashionably late when Titanic gets a parody), Springfield becomes aware of the profound impact its townsfolk are having on the environment when pollution in Lake Springfield quickly becomes a major problem. Homer Simpson (voiced by Dan Castellaneta) violates the town's oath to curb such pollution when he empties a silo of pig crap into the aforementioned lake, after which things promptly go tits-up. Further confirming Grandpa Simpson's (Castellaneta again) earlier prediction of impending doom is the arrival of EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), who encase Springfield in an impenetrable dome as punishment for their -- or rather, Homer's -- actions. Predictably peeved about Homer's actions, the townsfolk head for the Simpson home, torches in hand. When Homer, Marge (Julie Kavner), Bart (Nancy Cartwright), Lisa (Yeardley Smith) and Maggie (Cartwright again) escape the cut-off Springfield through a sandpit sinkhole, they escape the vengeance of their neighbours. However, their freedom is soon soured with the discovery that nefarious Russ Cargill (A. Brooks) plans to use his authority to trick President Schwarzenegger (Harry Shearer) into greenlighting the destruction of Springfield.
Introducing full frontal nudity into the mix a full eight years after South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, The Simpsons Movie occasionally feels dated but is nonetheless possessive of more charm than something like Shrek the Third, which was released the same year. Bizarrely, the scene in which the Springfield townsfolk seek to take violent revenge against Homer -- done by jabbing him with pitchforks when he becomes tangled in a noose and clawing at his head as he slowly descends through the sinkhole to freedom -- might just be the greatest almost-lynch in cinema since 1955's Night of the Hunter. The sequence is hilarious, as is Homer's correction when son Bart claims one day in the film to be the worst of his life -- the dimwitted father adds on "...so far." President Schwarzenegger also admits to missing Danny DeVito at one point, and the result is that you can't help but laugh. Lead villain Russ Cargill, meanwhile, reminds of James Woods' Philiam Benedict of 2001's Recess: School's Out. He's bitter and positively mad, and voice artist A. Brooks makes the character pretty funny to boot.
Warts and all, The Simpsons has remained a relative satire on the stereotypical American family ever since its inception, and The Simpsons Movie represents the continuation of the basic themes creator Matt Groening originally conceived for the show. Harkening back to episodes past makes for some uneven results. The reappearance of Bart's dissatisfaction with Homer's parenting feels worn-out from its very introduction, while the integration of Ned Flanders into this subplot proves pretty lazy. Alternatively, the standout appearance of Mr. Burns -- perhaps the best character in the entire series -- takes one back to his treatment of employees in episodes past (characters beg him for electricity and to look into his heart, and he soon releases the hounds). Obligatory appearances from regular backing characters of the series also reap some rewards. As the end of Springfield's existence seemingly draws near, two specific characters get their own memorable parts: Comic Book Guy and Martin Prince show their own personal defiance, the former proudly reflecting of his life up to that point and the latter assaulting the bullies who previously made his school life hell.
The Simpsons Movie curiously reminds of 1995's A Goofy Movie. Both represent animated series brought distinctly to the big screen, with the 2D animation looking more polished and precise, the characters speaking as if making announcements to the audiences, and the dramatic results being more personal and profound than their small-screen versions could boast. If you can go back to Season 4 and prior to find better watches than this 87-minute extension, it makes little matter. The Simpsons Movie succeeds as a labour of love, albeit a minor one, that fans of the show will surely love more than non-fans (film critic Dustin Putman claims to have seen few episodes, and didn't rate the movie too highly) even if they don't exactly love it.