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Longest episode ever

Joel Hunt
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I came into “The Simpsons Movie” with high expectations. I’m a longtime fan of the Springfield, Wherever, TV family, and my motto is “There’s a Simpsons quote for everything.” I have a few classic seasons on DVD and a digital video recorder cluttered with episodes, and now, with almost any video clips available on the Internet, I can see my favorite lines from the TV show anytime I want. Heck, I’ve memorized all of the best lines. I was afraid that the movie would be a continuation of the mediocrity of the past few seasons, but the creators must have been putting their time and energy into the big-screen Springfield.

The movie doesn’t try to be anything more than the TV show, but that’s a good thing.

It’s a solid ” although 87-minute-long ” installment, and I already hear people singing “Spider-Pig” under their breaths. But it lacks a lot of the social commentary and touching, insightful family moments that define classic “Simpsons” episodes, favoring instead the outrageous antics of Homer. There are the typical jabs at Fox and the “stupid” president, but that’s hardly the equally offensive stabs at everything American ” or foreign. I would blame that omission on Hollywood, but it has been happening in the TV series of late, as well.



The movie version revolves around a plot familiar to “Simpsons” fans: Homer does something stupid (dumps a silo full of pig waste into an already polluted lake), everybody suffers (Springfield is “domed” and later targeted for annihilation), and the family is more or less exiled until Marge and the rest of the family return to save the town (or clean up the mess Homer made ” whatever).

The subplots are standards from the TV show (say, the Simpsons are going to Alaska!, Bart finds a new and better father figure or Lisa gets a crush), but the jokes and the dialogue are still new and seem relatively fresh (hey, you’re talking to someone who has watched and will watch one episode literally hundreds of times).



Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a movie fan, I’m a “Simpsons” fan. I like resolution in an hour, max ” shorter if the program doesn’t particularly interest me. But the film held my attention the whole 87 minutes, and as I was getting ready for everything to be wrapped up, it was the climax.

The beginning of the movie confused me a little because aside from a slightly lengthened standard “Simpsons” intro, there were no credits on the front end. I kept waiting for a break in the action for the typical long-form Hollywood introduction, but it never came, and that kept me from getting into the show right away. Instead, the filmmakers bribe you to watch the end credits with some extras.

For “Simpsons” fans, the movie is worth seeing ” in the theater, even ” because it’s an old standard with some good new jokes (and a few recycled ones, but, hey, it has been 18 seasons). For movie fans, it’s a Hollywood introduction to a show that uses bathroom humor but also could be the focus (and already is the focus at some schools) of a course or serious scholarship. For perverts, you get to see Bart’s “doodle.”



Anyone worried that the Simpsons would transform into a clan of unrecognizable computermation puppets out to save the world in their long-awaited big-screen debut can relax.

Besides a few liberties Simpsons masterminds took with their cinematic freedom, “The Simpsons Movie” has precisely the feel of an extended TV episode. Said liberties include a rather amusing flash of Bart’s, um … little cartoon package.

Apparently cartoon frontal male nudity of this variety falls within the acceptable guidelines of a PG-13 rating. Then there is Marge’s singular outburst of “goddammit,” the sight of Otto the bus driver taking a couple of hits off his bong and the suggestive presence of “Boob Lady,” who, in spite of the implications, remains fully clothed ” giant rack and all ” in Sacagawea attire.

Simpsons fans will not be disappointed, but nonfans aren’t any more likely to be converted than they would be after digesting one short sample from the 18 seasons worth of America’s most irreverent family on TV.

As with most of the shows, the plot in “The Simpsons Movie” meanders for a while, branching into subplots before settling onto its main theme.

The film begins with Homer and Bart engaged in some father-son fun nailing shingles to the roof. A game of dare sends Bart into town naked on his skateboard, birds flying strategically and garden hoses spouting exactly so through the entire journey in order to obscure his nether regions until he rides through a line of hedges and everything is covered except for said area. Pretty funny. Inevitably, Bart’s brave venture leads to public humiliation and he becomes angry that Homer is so oblivious to his feelings. After the members of Green Day (yes, the band … each member voicing himself) die tragically in the highly polluted Springfield Lake, the Simpson family attends the funeral and Grandpa Simpson has a spastic fit on the chapel floor in which he utters all kinds of nonsense that Marge understands to be a foreboding prophecy. Homer, meanwhile, becomes the proud owner of a pet pig whom he fawns over while Bart is busy spying on Flanders the neighbor and wishing he had a more attentive father.

Without giving too much away, it’s safe to point out that things unravel and precipitate in high-speed Simpsons fashion. Homer inadvertently dooms Springfield, angry mobs and the Environmental Protection Agency become involved, President Schwarzenegger lackadaisically allows the EPA to take charge, Lisa falls in love with a random Irish kid who appears out of nowhere, Boob Lady saves the day and a bunch of forest creatures watch Homer and Marge have sex … not necessarily in that order.

For those of us who love the show for its subtle mockery of all things bureaucratic, the movie is filled with a refreshing number of humorous jabs steered toward the government, organized religion, suburbia and wayward global agencies. Simpsons fans will laugh hard throughout just like they would at a Sunday evening marathon of the beloved cartoon. Simpsons detractors (if such a thing exists) will remain unmoved, and those individuals who somehow in the past 18 years haven’t emerged from under their rocks to watch “The Simpsons” on TV, well, here’s a good chance to join the club.


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