The Simpsons Movie (6/10)

All right, here’s the break I promised y’all from my chronicling my old reviews. I saw the Simpsons movie last Friday, and finally wrote a review. Enjoy!

The Simpsons Movie (6/10)

The Simpsons has become part of our culture like none other. They have been around for nearly 20 years, and are still going strong, with end of the series not even a speck on the horizon. It was inevitable that they come out with a movie sooner or later, and for the most part, The Simpsons Movie is worth the wait. It is rife with the self-aware irony, witty satire, scathing parody, and hilarious comedy that the TV show has become known for. In fact, it is so much like the TV show that, if you weren’t sitting in a darkened room surrounded by hundreds of people, you could be fooled into thinking it was a three-parter episode. In a film where hilarity is a given, something more must be asked of it, and, unfortunately, the Simpsons fails to stretch itself in any way, being content, for the most part, to stick with its tried an true formula.

Rather than attempt to explain the paper thin plot, I’ll just summarize the basic idea for you. Springfield’s lake is dangerously over-polluted, so the city puts a ban on dumping any further garbage into the lake. Homer, of course, screws everything up because of his mis-directed love for a young pig, and thus the US government forces all of Springfield to live under a giant indestructible dome, causing the town to riot against the cause of everything (Homer, once again), forcing the Simpson family to escape the indestructible dome and flee to Alaska to start anew. Meanwhile, Bart must deal with a realization that Homer is unsatisfactory as a Dad, Lisa finds the perfect guy for her, and the ever-enduring Marge has to question whether she really wants to endure any longer.

With 400 episodes under their belt and counting, one thing the Simpsons have to be respected for is their longevity. No other TV series (aside from the Tonight Show, which doesn’t even really count) has managed to stay alive this long, while still maintaining a healthily hilarious pulse. Though it doesn’t carry as much clout as it once did, each new TV episode that comes out manages to be satirical, witty, and downright hilarious. The Simpsons movie is all of these things, lampooning religion, environmentalism, the government, and a sizable helping of other subjects too (most notable a spot-on cameo of a very notable star.) The movie is just plain hilarious – no question. There weren’t two minutes during this film where I wasn’t practically busting a gut laughing. But one also has to take into account that with 400 episodes down the drain, there aren’t many plot-lines left to do. I’m not a huge fan of the TV show – I respect it and appreciate its witty comedy and satire, but I’m not a regular watcher, so I can’t speak to whether or not this plot has been done before, but one very clear thing that I did notice was that if everything superfluous were stripped away, the movie would be about the length of a 44-minute Simpsons special.

Take Homer’s love for the pig – the thing which causes him to bring ruin to the entire town. Though it does give us the line that is already becoming a classic – “Spider-Pig, Spider-Pig, does whatever a Spider-Pig does…Can he swing – from a web? No he can’t, he’s a pig…” this whole thing is basically a plot device – once the pig has served his purpose we really don’t see him anymore. Lisa’s new crush is basically just adding on a little romantic subplot that doesn’t affect the outcome of the film at all, and Bart’s questioning his father’s love is merely for the sake of adding screentime. If enough work had been put into the plot, all these things could have worked together towards a resolution – but as it is the only strong thread that runs the length of the movie is Homer. Marge questioning her devotion to Homer comes in a close second, and it’s good to see some real conflict in these characters we love, but it’s not enough to save the paper thin plot. Another disappointment is that none of the extra characters have any strong involvement – we see cameos from Moe and the gang, but that’s all they are. Ironically the strongest character in the movie (aside from Homer) is a government official whom I don’t believe has been in the TV series at all.

All this criticism being leveled against it, though, I would still give it a positive recommendation. It’s a disappointment if you’re looking for something beyond the series fare, but if you’re just looking for a solid comedy, look no further. One of the reasons it’s disappointing is because of the sheer comedic brilliance that we’ve seen these writers capable of. If they can write comedy like that, don’t you think they could have at least come up with a plot that doesn’t artifically extend itself with four or five superfluous storylines? Apparently not. Eh. Maybe they’ll do better with the next movie. Because whether the series continues or not, you can bet this is not the last of our favorite yellow family’s visit to the silver screen.

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