THE Simpsons have been America’s favourite family for almost 20 years now. The show is now an institution since it debuted in 1989 after the characters first appeared on the Tracy Ullman Show. So it was about time they made a movie, and this highly anticipated offering will hardly fail to please fans.
Featuring every yellow-skinned, blue-haired, googly-eyed character the filmmakers could cram in, even if only for a frame or two (poor old Moleman doesn’t last long), the movie is just like watching a bumper episode of the show. There’s also a new face or two and a guest appearance from punk rockers Greenday and actor Tom Hanks.
Fans will also enjoy how the main characters get a chance to shine. Lisa finally gets a boyfriend, Bart goes looking for a better dad in a most unexpected quarter, and Martin briefly gets his revenge on the bullies. And if you don’t leave as soon as the credits roll, you’ll even hear Maggie’s first word.
The show’s humour translates well. The Simpsons has always been the tongue-in-subversive-cheek voice of the anxieties of liberal America, and the movie satirises religion, global warming denialists and a paranoid government.
It’s also fun seeing the characters so large on the big screen, and the makers of the movie used the opportunity to do things you just can’t do on American TV: there’s a nude scene, drug taking and (ahem) Homer falls in love with a pig.
The plot is simple and involves – as usual – Homer messing up spectacularly, mostly thanks to the pig and its prodigious poo, which lands Springfield in its worst trouble yet.
Only Homer can put things right, save Springfield from the government and maybe even patch up his relationship with Marge.
(Incidentally, did you know that there is a town called Springfield in every state in America?).
The Simpsons Movie is one of the biggest animation movies ever made. It was first conceived not long after the series debuted and has been in the making since 2001.
Apparently, 100 hours and many celebrity cameos were cut. It has over 90 speaking parts, a massive budget and was the effort of no fewer than 11 of the series’s usual writers.
So I’m not sure why it wasn’t more, perhaps, than just a longer-than-usual episode. And there were one or two moments that let me down (Comic Book Guy’s scene is disappointing).
But having said that, it certainly delivers enough action, subtle in-jokes and outright laughs – and perhaps it’s amazing in itself that a show can run for so long and still be fresh and vital. ****