I doubt that any group of filmmakers have been under the amount of pressure to create a successful film like the writers and animators of The Simpsons Movie have been over the past two or three years. With an eighteen-year-strong fan base, that has weakened some over the past few seasons, Matt Groening et al not only had to provide something fresh to millions of dedicated fans but also something funny for the general public. I admit to some skepticism and pessimism before going to see the film, but kept a sincerely open mind. I went with a diverse group of folks to see the film, many of whom were much more pessimistic than me. I am delighted to say that we all came out of the film more than pleasantly surprised. While not the funniest film of the year, The Simpsons Movie movie comes close and is a successful big screen transfer that, like the television shows, demands repeat viewing.
In The Simpsons Movie, Homer once again ruins and saves the day: he must save Sprinfield from a natural disaster the he creates in the first place. One critic put it most succinctly by saying that this film is more of a throw-back than a throw-away. The film is definitely reminiscent of The Simpsons‘ heydays when the writers and animators were hitting on all cylinders and is much funnier than nearly every episode of the past four or five seasons. The Simpsons Movie comes out of the gate strong for the first 30-45 minutes of the film with non-stop laughs, but the plot begins to lag shortly afterwards for the next 30 minutes or so. Of course, my frustration could have been a combination of a weakening plot and a 1 a.m. viewing. Nevertheless, this film has it all and pulls no punches in lampooning religion, the environment, environmentalists, the show itself, and the list grows. A different animation technique from the small screen took some getting used to but was vital for the transition to the big screen. Amazingly, after eighteen years, we see Bart like we’ve never seen him before, hear Marge like we’ve never heard her, and witness Martin finally get his revenge. In the end, the film felt more like an extended television episode and not a film, and this is not a bad thing. The Simpsons Movie remains faithful to the feel of the series’ greatness while still exploring the PG-13 freedom of the big screen.