They say that The Simpsons Movie was nearly 20 years in the making. I find that a little hard to believe, because there are countless (successful) television programs out there that never made the jump to the silver screen. Classics like Married with Children, Seinfeld, and The Critic (okay maybe not the last one) immediately come to mind. Naturally, I approached The Simpsons Movie with a little apprehension, because there was no conceivable way that it could ever live up to the hype.
For most of the 24 years that I have spent on this planet, I have been watching the antics of Homer, Bart, Lisa, Marge, Maggie and the rest of the characters in the Simpsons universe. It was through my weekly exposure every Sunday evening that I learned what a druid was: when I asked my brother what was a druid, he replied that they were similar to the Stonecutters. And then I knew. But my appreciation of the Simpsons went much further than that. It went further than Uter saying he was filled with chocolate. It went further than Rainier Wolfcastle exclaiming that “Ze goggles… Zey do nothing!” The Simpsons became just as much a part of my life as Nintendo and hockey.
The Simpsons Movie has a running time of 87 minutes, effectively making it about as long as three consecutive Simpsons episodes. And that’s kind of how it feels. The actual story that underpins the feature film could have easily been told in a standard 30-minute animated episode, but they extended it to make it into a full movie. This isn’t to say that they just went and tossed in a bunch of filler — most of the content is actually related to the main story and serves a purpose — but if you’re looking for something completely novel and revolutionary, you won’t find it here. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The writing and voice acting in the movie is actually quite better than what we’ve been watching these past few years, hearkening back almost to the age when Simpsons episodes were penned, in part, by Conan O’Brien. Sure, there are scenes and sequences that serve no purpose other than to get us to giggle like little schoolgirls — like Bart riding his skateboard naked through Springfield, only to splat himself on the window of Krusty Burger while the Flanders family is saying grace (hearing the Rod and Todd say “bountiful penis” is already worth the price of admission) — but that’s what makes his movie so great. It’s irreverent, but hilarious. Ralph Wiggum has only two lines in the entire movie, but they could easily be the funniest parts of the entire 87 minute running time. I also enjoyed the scene where Ned Flanders shows Bart the four states that neighbor Springfield.
Like Ed Lau said in his review of The Simpsons Movie… “they had me at Spider-Pig.”
There are moments that aren’t particularly funny and the strange 3D animation in certain sequences is a little off-putting, but the Simpsons Movie has enough quality content that’ll make any Springfield-loving fan smile from ear to ear.
4 stars out of 5