Monday, December 24, 2007

The Simpsons Movie: Grade B

The Simpsons Movie (2007)
Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Harry Shearer, other voice actors. Director: David Silverman. (Animated).

In this movie-length episode of The Simpsons television series, Homer pollutes the town’s water supply so badly that the EPA is called in. The EPA administrator recommends to President Schwarzenegger that a giant dome be put over the town to protect the rest of the country. Cut off from the world, the townspeople march to Homer’s house to lynch him, but he and the family get away and even escape the dome, becoming fugitives in Alaska. The story continues in a long series of disconnected jokes, visual gags and isolated scenes. I really enjoyed the satirical political humor, especially the Al Gore send-up, and the visual parody of Disney animation from Bambi. But there wasn’t much of that. Most of the humor concerned family relationships and farce, and that was funny, but only as funny as a Roadrunner cartoon.

I confess I have never seen The Simpsons television show. I have looked in, but it never held my interest, so I did not recognize or appreciate the plethora of characters from the TV show in the movie, nor did I understand any allusions to the TV show. I just watched an animated movie, and I found it funny, well-written and well-drawn, but not hilarious. I think Leslie Nielsen movies are funnier. Shrek I was funnier. Finding Nemo was funnier. Team America was funnier. The Simpsons humor is centered around ridiculing social ineptitude, low intelligence, and lowlife motivation, and because of those base themes, it is soon tedious. The best part of it for me was the visual humor, not the script. I recognize that The Simpsons is an international phenomenon and that I am the odd one out here. The box office grossed almost half a billion dollars and the DVD will probably do three times that. I acknowledge that Bart, Homer, Marge, Lisa, and all the others are cultural icons, but for me, honestly, this movie was only a mildly amusing diversion, above average for its genre.

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