Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I must admit that I was somewhat disappointed in the new Simpson’s movie, as to me it came off as a long version of an average episode of ‘The Simpson’s’ TV show.  I mean I’m a Simpson’s fan from way back, when they were just little interludes on the Tracy Ullman Show, and I’ve been reading Simpson’s creator Matt Groening before even since then, waiting for his comic strip ‘Life in Hell’ to pop up in my free issue of the Riverfront Times every week.  Sure the TV series has seen a slide in its quality over the past few years, but this is but to be expected as nothing can maintain the level of continued excellence that was ‘The Simpson’s’ year in and year out, making it, in my opinion, the greatest TV show of All-Time.  Well, that and maybe ‘Manimal’.  But now we’re talking about a Simpson’s movie, and I was certain that the best stuff that we had been missing the last few years would certainly show up here, but I would be mistaken.  Yes it is The Simpson’s, and yes it’s good to see all the characters again one more time, but perhaps crushed under the weight of my great expectations, I found the movie marginally entertaining at best.

Our show opens after a brief ‘Itchy and Scratchy’ interlude in traditional Simpson’s style which features Bart writing on a chalkboard ‘I will not illegally download this movie” (oops, my bad.  – of course I’m just joking y’all – I’m a critic and get see most of this junk for free.)  After checking in on our characters we’re greeted with a definite environmental theme as Green Day rocks the house hard ending the show imploring the crowd to do their part to save nature.  After they are killed, Lisa (voiced by Yeardly Smith) takes to the streets canvassing from house to house to encourage her neighbors to help the environment.  It works wonders as the town unites to clean up the putrid Springfield Lake with the town of Springfield basking in the glow of its newfound Green Awareness.

But alas, Lisa is the child of Homer Simpson (Dan Castellaneta) and as only Homer can do, he finds a rather unique way to reverse the newly cleaned Springfield Lake, poisoning it to the point that it creates creatures even worst than Montgomery Burns now legendary Three-Eyed-Fish.  Now thanks to Homer, Springfield is the most polluted city in America and this calls the attention of President Swarzenegger’s new EPA head Russ Cargill (Albert Brooks – I was watching the movie thinking that that guy sounds a lot like Nemo’s dad).  Cargill takes the drastic measure of encasing Springfield in a dome to protect the rest of the USA from its filth, but somehow the Simpson’s manage to escape mere moments before the town is able to finish their lynching  of them for Homer’s crimes.  This would be Homer’s worst screw up ever as Lisa completely despises him, Bart (Nancy Cartwright) has chosen to become an honorary Flanders, and Marge (Julie Kavner) questions why she continues to stay with the lovable overweight loser.  Worst is the news the Cargill has decided to blow Springfield off the map to create a new Grand Canyon and now the Simpson’s must rush back and do everything in their power to save their once and future crappy town.

A friend of mine pointed out that the magic of ‘The Simpson’s’ is that its humor works on three levels.  On the bottom rung are people who laugh at coconuts falling on folks heads.  These are the same people who laugh every single time Homer says ‘D’oh’.  No matter what.  The second level are the more clever, oft times subtle hidden humorous political messages and pop-culture references that makes up the large portion of what has driven ‘The Simpson’s’ through all these years.  At the highest level of the Simpson’s humor chain are the much more cryptic theological, high brow literary and extremely obscure social references that will only by caught by the upper 10% of our societies intellectual trust.  So if you’re watching an episode of ‘The Simpson’s’ in an airport and some guy with horn rimmed glasses and patches on his tweed jacket starts laughing for seemingly no reason, that joke was intended solely for him.  My friends point was that be you stupid, average or brilliant, ‘The Simpson’s’ has something for you.  As far as I could tell with the new movie however, it completely abandoned the highest tier of the humor chain (Though I’d need a smart guy nearby to tell me this is so), barely gave service to middle tier and almost solely catered to the coconut on the head demographic, which is too bad.

It wasn’t like the film was completely devoid of laughs, I mean this is ‘The Simpson’s’ for goodness sakes, but there have been TV episodes that have been far funnier.  The writers even rehashed jokes, such as Homer using the term ‘Jebus’ which was still funny, but way funnier when it was used years ago in the TV show.  On a more personal note, since two of my favorite Simpson’s characters are Groundskeeper Willie and Dedrick Tatum and to have them serve little or no use to the movie did make me weep inside.  And though I understand that it’s a ninety minute movie and we can’t pay that much attention to the characters that have been developed over damn near 300 thirty minute episodes, Monty Burns and Apu where woefully underserved as well.  But that’s just me.

As I said before, the problems I had with ‘The Simpson’s Movie’ probably rest far more with my expectations being so high than the movie being bad or anything, but there have been better episodes than what was presented in the movie.  It was nice to see America’s first family on the big screen, but it would been even nicer to see them represented in a way that I have remembered them for so long.  Now I’ll have to wait for ‘Manimal’ to make it to the big screen to hopefully a TV show done right.

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