The Simpsons Movie

The Simpsons Movie


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

The Simpsons has been running to about 22 minutes for 400 episodes or so. It's now into its 19th season, and after years of speculation it's finally made it onto the big screen. Their long-awaited cinematic outing does nothing new, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Over the past 18 years Homer has remained dim, Marge long-suffering, Bart a juvenile delinquent, Lisa a genius, and Maggie a baby. Despite Homer having held more than 100 jobs and Bart having had two birthdays, Springfield remains in a peculiar kind of stasis. There have been crises aplenty, usually of Homer's making, and the film is no different.

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This is essentially an episode of The Simpsons quadrupled in size. The animation is the same, with the addition of some computer animated backgrounds, but it doesn't feel like the big screen is being used to its full potential. There are some nice moments in the crowd scenes, and to be fair they might be missed if not sprawled across the wall of a cinema. There's about the same density of jokes, with the same proportion of genuinely hilarious moments, in particular, an extended sequence with a naked Bart. There's the usual quantity of knowing references, including those to outside events, the fact that this is a film and not an ordinary episode, and to the series' voluminous history.

It avoids the trap of many adaptations in that there are few in-jokes in the foreground. There are a number of nice moments made more special by an awareness of particular characters' histories, but there's no risk of a neophyte missing out. Of course, this is part of the problem of a Simpsons movie. Falling as it does between the release of a Harry Potter film (and the seventh book) and a live-action Transformers film (20 years after the animated version) it has to compete with a huge weight of expectation, and this is, perhaps, where it falls down.

After all this time, and all these episodes, there are few people who aren't aware of the Simpsons, and, with alternatives like Family Guy and American Dad and Groening's own Futurama, about as many who don't have an opinion on the series. With such a long run, the Simpsons has had its rough patches, even rough seasons, and any given episode is unlikely to be consistently funny.

That uneven nature is usually because any given Simpsons episode will amuse a number of different audiences. There's slapstick, knowing nods, relatively sophisticated word-play and established character humour. There's also the mawkish tendencies integral to American sit-com, but those can be forgiven if the jokes are amusing enough, and for the most part they are. Unfortunately it simply doesn't go far enough to convert newcomers. Those unfamiliar with The Simpsons may be relatively few, and Groening and company's awareness of their target audience does strengthen the picture, but this film does little to nothing to sway the uninitiated.

Given the random nature of episode scheduling across the BBC, Channel 4 and Sky in the last two decades, any number of folk have chosen to watch a given episode because it is fresh to them, or because it is one that they liked. If either applies, the familiar or the new, then the Simpsons movie is for you.

Reviewed on: 25 Jul 2007
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The Simpsons Movie packshot
A big screen outing for Homer and family. Out to own on DVD and Blu-ray on December 10.
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Director: David Silverman

Writer: Matt Groening, James L Brooks

Starring: Voiced by Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Harry Shearer, Hank Azaria, Marcia Wallace, Billie Joe Armstrong, Tre Cool, Mike Dirnt, Tress MacNeille, Tom Hanks

Year: 2007

Runtime: 87 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


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