THE SIMPSONS MOVIE 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 and others, with Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Harry Shearer and Hank Azaria. 87 minutes. A 20th Century Fox release. Opens Friday (July 27). Rating: NNN
The Simpsons Movie begins with a clip from The Itchy And Scratchy Movie. Then the shot opens up and you realize the Simpsons are at The Itchy And Scratchy Movie, at which point Homer complains, "I can't believe we're paying to watch something we get for free on TV."
It's a classic ironic comedy move. Yes, the joke's on us, and we get that the joke's on us, and that's why the joke's funny. On the other hand, it's hard to deny that Homer may have a point.
The "Worst. Episode. Ever." crowd are already buzzing online, but whether you find The Simpsons Movie disappointing depends on what you expect of it. If you're hoping for 80 minutes of prime Simpsons, something to rival the best moments of seasons 3 through 5, you'll be disappointed. If you're anticipating something like a really long, above-average episode from the current season, you're in luck.
The problem with The Simpsons Movie is that it's at least a decade too late. After 400-plus episodes, there's not much the Simpsons can do that we haven't already seen in one form or another. It's a little late in the day for Bart to realize he's an abused child. And if they were going to shoehorn as many characters as possible into the movie, where's Disco Stu?
Favourite themes revisited in the movie include the ecologically disastrous state of Springfield's water supply, Homer's gnat-like attention span, Lisa's search for the great puppy love of her young life, Marge's loving exasperation and the evils of big government.
The execution is reasonably funny in the hit-and-miss manner of latter-day episodes, but translating The Simpsons to the big screen is a pointless exercise. This isn't some science fiction anime that cries out for gigantic images. It's a reasonably well-drawn show where visual pizzazz has always taken a back seat to character relationships, and while there's a little CG pop here, some moves that would be impossible to hand draw, the movie preserves the show's small-screen simplicity. There's no reason not to wait for the DVD.
If you do go, make sure you stay for the credits. There are gags.