(Release Date: July 27, 2007)
(Premiere Date: July 21, 2007 [Springfield, Vermont(!)])
|J.C. Mašek III|
The World's Greatest Critic!
To call a movie version of Fox's The Simpsons "Much Anticipated" would be like calling a debutante's wedding day "kind of a big deal". From filler material within a British Lady's sketch comedy program to the big screen summer blockbuster. Say "Good Marketing!", Gracie! I still remember watching that "pilot" Christmas Episode. Mostly because I was in a mental hospital at the time. After that first episode a couple of rocky seasons followed until the show became a well oiled comedy machine. Looking back at some of the early episodes it's interesting to note how popular it already was, especially considering that the show looks like it worked because Fox didn't have much else. Except for those of you just waiting for a very special episode of Herman's Head.
I was one of you, by the way.
In many ways The Simpsons Movie feels like one big huge, Stampy-Sized episode of the TV show. After the release of a new Itchy and Scratchy movie (during which Homer criticizes the audience for paying to see something in a theatre that they can watch on TV for free) we're given a pretty standard premise. Homer's pulling a few more of the "Worst Things You've Ever Done!" and alienating more citizens than Ross Perot's second presidential bid. Before long, The Simpsons are outcast from their friends and estranged from each other until the fateful moment in which everyone must hug before the Gracie Films chick hisses out her "SHH!"
Indeed, this is a film for fans of the TV Show The Simpsons (well Duh... or... D'oh!). Those less initiated might not really get why certain things are funny without the full back story of who all these characters are (brother, we get just about all of them) and how they link to each other.
On the other hand, The Simpsons Movie does succeed in breaking its confinements pretty damned well with some expansive virtual camera work, some beautiful CGI renderings and a lot more of a good thing. Dare I say it's the "Best... Episode... Ever... SO FAR!"? Well... No. But it's a hell of a great one!
We're given a sweep through Springfield worthy of the big screen, complete with ol' Bart on the chalkboard. But when the pollution of Lake Springfield does the unthinkable (stopping a Green Day concert the film shifts gears and the crowd starts getting angry (how dare Green Day succumb to pollution).
It's no wonder that the next day at Church, Grandpa Abraham Simpson (Dan Castellaneta) has a bold prophecy of disaster that Comic Book Guy (Hank Azaria) takes seriously (at least as YouTube fodder) and Marge Simpson (Julie Kavner) takes seriously (at least as Armageddon fodder)... everybody takes it seriously.
That is, all except Homer (Dan Castellaneta, again), who is too busy proving what a complete jackass he is. After 18 years of this, let me tell you, his ass act is getting a little stale. But beautifully the (FIFTEEN) writers seem to realize this fact and play it off well showing even Bart (Nancy Cartwright), who is (quite literally) the BUTT of Homer's idiocy getting sick as a Santa's Little Helper of him and starting to look up to (of all people) Ned Flanders (Harry Shearer). To make matters worse, Homer barely even notices, having adopted a new Simpson to care for in the form of a young ungulate alternately known as Spider-Pig and Harry Plopper.
Meanwhile (as happens every so often) Lisa (Yeardley Smith) falls in love with a young, Irish Environmentalist named Colin (Tress MacNeille), Marge freaks out (supportively) and Maggie (Nancy Cartwright, again) performs amazing feat after amazing feat.
However, Lake Springfield might not be quite contented with merely eating Green Day (who would be?). Perhaps with a little help of a certain local fat man (and a whole lot of crap) Lake Springfield can bring about the end of the Town as we know it and might even elicit the wrath of EPA Head Russ Cargill (Albert Brooks) and... PRESIDENT Arnold Schwarzenegger (Harry Shearer, again).
Naturally the adventure takes the gang all over the gosh darned place, hardly allowing them to be confined to Springfield (even if everyone else is).
There's a great feeling of "The Gang's All Here" for Simpsons fans as virtually no cameo is left un-flung. Virtually every Simpsons character since Day One has at least a tiny bit of screen time. Tom Hanks even shows up to play himself. In truth, there's so much vintage The Simpsons here that there's little wonder that the Producers still include James L. Brooks, Matt Groening and Al Jean.
Then again, that may or may not be a selling point for just every viewer out there. Some of the same comedy that has gone into the show is just filled to the rim with brim here. Homer's lines have been laced with shock value for so long that today they're about as shocking as a dead Double A. In this respect (and others) The Simpsons Movie is really more of a Simpsons montage with a whole lot of hits and a few misses in the mix.
Do they take full advantage of their big screen release to get even racier? Well, in some places, yes. The PG-13 rating is about accurate for what they get away with here, with a bit more peppery language and just a tad more adult humor. And it's even got Nudity... though... it's... um... not what I was hoping to see. (Marge, call me.)
What the Producers (and director David Silverman) exploit from their big screen debut the best is the expansiveness that Cinemascope allows them. Coming from the shaky doodles of The Tracey Ullman Show, I can say the ol' family has never looked better, nor has the entire angry Mob of Springfiled (which reminds me, Joe Mantegna shows up to give us our minimum deadly allowance of Fat Tony). The scenery is rendered beautifully here, the colors positively glow and the characterizations are priceless. All that without betraying the look that made the show famous.
For many reasons, The Simpsons Movie is a Must See. Fans and Newbies alike will find something to love, but Newbies might be asking "uh, what now?" Meanwhile the easily offended peer you drag along with you might turn his or her grimy nose up at this here flickarino. Do me a favor, for those cats... take them to see the South Park movie next. That'll take the Tony Chachere's out of their bloodstream right quick-like.
Three and One Half Stars out of Five for The Simpsons Movie. It's certainly worth the Big Screen treatment, and if it's anything it's truly entertaining and spiced up to the limit with pop culture skewering, hilarious asides and sight gags and more than just a few surreally side-splitting moments (a certain Woodland Creature assisted foreplay session springs to mind). Again, it's a must see, so go see it. Is it the Best... Episode... Ever? Some may think so, and it's up there. It's a lot more entertaining than reading trash like Internet Reviews. Get the hell out of here, strap on your Bowling Jacket and munch down a Doughnut. I'll see you in the next reel.
Ah, yes, another Summer Blockbuster, another Midnight showing, another Sleepy Kneumsi...
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The Simpsons Movie (2007) reviewed by J.C. Mašek III
Who is solely responsible for the reviews posted on this site
And for his most honest belief that SHELBYVILLE SUCKS!
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