The Simpsons Movie
Review By: Joe

I didn't particularly need to see The Simpsons Movie this weekend, but my friends seemed to want to and I am a slave to geek pressure. Also, I figured it'd be easier to see the movie at the ubernerd showing at 12 AM on Thursday, rather than wade through a sea of pudgesweat on the weekend, so, taking the dorky way out, we did just that.

This movie is almost exactly what I expected and all I can really say is what probably every other Simpsons fan with an internet connection is going to say: this movie would've been better if it'd been made about nine years ago.

The problem is simple. The notion of a movie adaptation of a tv show is that, theoretically, it's got a plot that is so bombastic that a mere twenty-two minutes on a box in your living room (or outside a store window, shout-out to the homeless!) is not enough to contain it. The thing is that The Simpsons has been on for so long at this point that we've seen them do nearly everything. We've seen them travel to multiple, multiple countries, we've seen Mr. Burns block out the sun, hell, it wasn't even that deep into the series when Homer went to space, the supposedly final frontier (although it is worth noting that the Leprechaun also went to space before daring to venture into tha hood). So what is supposed to make this a theater-worthy experience? Well, not much, really.

The major difference between this movie and a current episode of the show is that everything you've already seen has just been amped up a bit more. We've seen the town in peril before (a comet, Mr. Burns' sun-blocking thingy, various nuclear meltdowns), but (SPOILER!), and please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong here, I don't believe, outside of perhaps a Halloween episode, we've ever seen Springfield genuinely decimated, as is the case here. I suppose it's a minor shock to see the town really and truly going to shit, but, then again, it's not like we're not expecting it to bounce back. (THE SPOILER, SHE IS OVER!)

The other thing that is increased is the level at which Homer is a jerk. I read an MSN article that declared Homer has gotten far too mean in more recent episodes of the show and this is a very astute observation. During the show's best years, Homer was a selfish idiot, but he had enough redeemable qualities for us to stick with him. In the movie Homer is, I am pretty confident, the cruelest he has ever been. I'm fairly positive of this because, as ridiculous as Homer's gotten over the years, I've stuck with the characters so long that I was always willing to accept that he could go just a bit further and Marge would still take him back. This movie makes Homer out to be such a massive douchebag that I literally found myself wondering why the rest of the family was putting up with him. So, yes, in that respect the movie goes to a point that the show never has: it actually made me dislike Homer for some of it. And I don't really think that's a good thing.

I'm not trying to say that this was a bad movie. It was mostly solid (although all that Alaska business comes out of nowhere and it also seems so silly that they actually did feel they had to come up with another place to send the family) and there's a certain joy in seeing these characters finally on the big screen (although!!! it's sort of upsetting that most of the supporting characters had such tiny roles). Additionally, the few gags that pushed this movie up to a PG-13 rating were, in my opinion, pretty awesome and hilarious. It's also amusing that this film even exists, really. Firstly, it's one of the few animated (rather than computer animated) films I've seen in a long time. Secondly, it was written (unlike most screenplays which are usually done by one or two people and then rewritten into oblivion by many others) cooperatively by all of the show's writers and the pacing and look are nothing like anything you've seen in the theaters or, very likely, will ever see again (except if there's a sequel). I do appreciate this but it is, of course, the same reason this movie feels like little more than a longer version of the show.

I quite frankly didn't expect a lot from this movie. I assumed I'd get what I get from the show these days, which is to say, it's rarely full-on horrible, but it's a far cry from what it was in its hayday. I chuckle here and there. I have a genuine, honest-to-goodness handful of laughs, but I'm never as impressed as I was during the best seasons. I guess some part of me hoped maybe somehow this movie would magically capture the feel of the series of yore, and therein lies the disappointment, but it did live up to my more realistic expectations, at any rate.

The unfortunate thing about The Simpsons Movie and, indeed, the show as it is currently, is that it's forever branded as having once been the absolute best show in television history. If this movie had come out completely independently of anything else, I'd be absolutely amazed by the style and tone because it'd be like nothing I'd ever seen before. As it is, I'm already 400-episodes familiar with this stuff so it's hard to be surprised. In other words, The Simpsons would be a lot better if it had never been The Simpsons. Let's not mince words: this show should have ended years ago and this movie should never have happened. I will still keep watching because I love it, but I'm never expecting to be as in love with it as I once was.

I told a guy at my office who had not seen the show in awhile that I had seen the movie and he asked me, "Is it like new Simpsons or old Simpsons?"

"New Simpsons," I said.

"Oh okay," he said, "That's all I needed to know."

And, yeah, that's about right.

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