It’s truly hard to believe that The Simpsons has been on the air for eighteen years. I vividly remember my elementary school years, when The Simpsons premiered, and Bart was public enemy number one in the minds of all the parents. They were worried we’d start calling our dad by his first name, or pick up various uses of the word “hell.” With today’s options, it all seems so tame in comparison. The Simpsons has always played on society, and that’s why it can be around forever if it wants to be.
It’s also hard to believe that, in those first seventeen years, The Simpsons never saw the big screen. This film has been a long time coming, and it’s comforting to say that this incarnation is a success. It doesn’t get everything right, but it throws enough rapid-fire gags and signature Simpsons licks at the wall to win over just about everyone. You know you’re in for a good time when just the opening sequence is more effective than most full-length comedies this year.
The plot is amazingly scattershot, but it goes something like this: Springfield is in the midst of a pollution nightmare. The local lake is basically acid and attempts to educate the population have fallen on deaf ears. When Homer accidentally dumps a silo of pig manure (it’s not worth even trying to explain here) into the lake, Springfield is sent over the edge. The EPA intervenes, placing a clear dome over the entire city. Through many circumstances, Homer finds himself as not only the city’s sole hope for survival, but also at a crossroads with his own family.
Virtually every Simpsons character makes an appearance, and the screenplay by an army of writers does a tremendous job of crossing over the material to feature-length. The film is consistently funny throughout, but hits several homeruns when it takes jabs at the current political climate. Signature Simpsons touches are constantly on display, even in a brief scene in which worshipers at a church and patrons at a bar switch places upon hearing of the dome. A gag in which a bomb-diffusing robot commits suicide because it can’t take the pressure is flawless black comedy.
The Simpsons Movie leaves very little to complain about, be it the die-hard fan or the casual re-run watcher. From a feature film standpoint, subplots are abruptly dropped (what happened to Homer’s beloved pet pig, Spider-Pig aka Harry Plopper?), but on the whole it doesn’t matter all that much. A bewildering number of jokes are crammed into this feature, and it will take repeat viewings to catch it all. I have a feeling that this won’t bother Simpsons fans in the slightest.
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Length: 87 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for irreverent humor throughout.
Theatrical Release: July 27, 2007
Directed by: David Silverman
Written by: James L. Brooks & Matt Groening & Al Jean & Ian Maxtone-Graham & George Meyer & David Mirkin & Mike Reiss & Mike Scully & Matt Selman & John Swartzwelder & Jon Vitti.
Cast: Dan Castellaneta (voice), Julie Kavner (voice), Nancy Cartwright (voice), Yeardley Smith (voice), Harry Shearer (voice), Hank Azaria (voice)