The Simpsons Movie: This is a Film for Fans. You Have Been Warned.
"The Simpsons Movie" (2007), directed by David Silverman for Twentieth Century Fox, is a feature-film version of the popular animated television series. The regular television cast appears, along with Albert Brooks and cameos by Tom Hanks and Green Day. The film is full of cultural allusions and references that make it almost a parody of modern culture. The film's main targets, though, are religion and environmentalism, which gives the film a sharp edge.
Pollution in Lake Springfield kills the rock band Green Day, which is performing there, after their barge sinks due to toxic waste. Grampa Simpson says this is a sign that the town is doomed, but only Marge takes him seriously. Lisa and her boyfriend Colin pressure the town to clean up the lake.
|Green Day, before the barge sinks|
Homer rescues a pig, "Spider Pig," from Krusty Burger. Bart feels neglected and starts hanging out with Flanders. Homer collects an entire silo full of pig waste and takes the silo to the town dump. It takes too long for him to dispose of it, though, so he just throws it in the lake, polluting it some more.
|Homer and his pig|
The EPA finds a chipmunk that mutated because of the lake's pollution, and its chief Russ Cargill goes to President Arnold Schwarzenegger for guidance. The President orders that a dome be constructed over the town to contain the pollution. When people in town find out that Homer dumped his silo in the lake, causing the dome to be put up, they come looking for him. The Simpsons manage to escape through a sinkhole that provides a tunnel under the dome. Homer suggests that they go to Alaska.
|Tom Hanks makes an appearance|
The residents of Springfield want to get rid of the dome, but Cargill doesn't want anyone to find out about the dome, so he plots to destroy the entire town. Tom Hanks appears in a television advertisement to create a new Grand Canyon where Springfield is located. Marge and the kids go back to Springfield to see what they can do to help the townspeople, and the EPA captures them and puts them back in the dome.
|"I choose option 3"|
Homer is saved from a polar bear by an Inuit shaman, and comes to believe that he can save the town. Homer gets back just in time to intercept a bomb being dropped into the dome by the EPA. It falls into the dome, and Homer finds it and throws it out through a hole, destroying the dome. Cargill tries to shoot Homer for foiling his scheme, but Marge knocks him unconscious, and the town starts getting back to normal.
Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Harry Shearer, and Hank Azaria provide most of the voices, as usual. Albert Brooks, who has appeared in the show before, voices Russ Cargill, while Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day says a few lines at the beginning.
|An angry mob, Simpsons style|
The film did well at the box office, and in fact currently sits as the 23rd highest grossing animation film worldwide in history. Although the film tackles serious themes, there is a lot of humor of the slapstick variety. However, it is very plot-driven, and long-time fans may miss the deeper humor the show usually provides. Some of the usual supporting characters hardly appear at all, giving the film a very different tone than the more relaxed episodes. On the positive side, the show always has been at its best when it shows the Simpson family as a family, and it does that very well in the film.
|Oh, boy, here we go!|
There is nothing subtle in Matt Groening's script about blowing up the city and turning it into the Grand Canyon, and the television show usually does stick to subtle humor. The film is much more over-the-top, funny but in a different way. Even the music by Hans Zimmer, a real heavyweight in the industry, is different. He takes the usual theme and departs from it with a grand orchestral interpretation. It is not bad, just a different take on Danny Elfman's original theme.
|The original film poster|
Many long-time fans of the show may not like such changes, but they are about the best you could hope for after a show has been on the air for so long and everything about it is carved in stone. The real treat for fans of the show simply lies in seeing Springfield on the big screen at all. As for the appeal of "The Simpsons," Brad Bird ("The Incredibles"), who briefly worked on the show, had this to say:
“What probably separates it is the fact that it challenges recognized authority, wherever it is. Whether it’s religious authority, governmental authority, teachers, parents, it challenges authority. But underneath it all, this family, as dysfunctional as they are, love each other. I think that came through.”"The Simpsons Movie" definitely follows in this tradition.
There are a lot of gags in the film, so at one point or another you are bound to find something funny. Because of the radically different tone of the film, though, it really isn't for fans who take the show seriously as social commentary. The problem with the film creatively isn't so much that it is a bad film as it is it simply isn't any kind of creative breakthrough. Good Simpsons humor revolves around taking real events, or things that could be real, and exaggerating them to make a point. There is nothing realistic about anything that goes on in this film, so the film is looking for a completely different audience than it caters to on a weekly basis.
|Homer and pig running for his life|
With all the time and effort put into making a feature film, expectations were high. The film plays like an extended episode without the wit and charm fans have come to expect. It seems as if the creators were going for a big message about the environment, but it falls flat. To top it all off, the film uses computer generated imagery instead of sticking with hand-drawn animation, which also is a departure from the weekly series. While the film apparently was shooting for a different audience than the weekly series, and apparently found it, upsetting the people that support the show week in and week out just to cater to a new potential audience seems unwise.
|World Premiere was in Springfield, Vermont|
If you are a fan, you undoubtedly have seen it. If you haven't seen the film, just bear in mind that it does not represent the comic heights reached by the show in the past.
Below is the trailer: