The Simpsons Movie Revisited

This is most likely the last time I will ever watch The Simpsons Movie. I saw it twice in the theaters, twice on DVD, once for the blog nine years ago, and now once more for a total of six viewings. There aren’t a whole lot of movies I can say I’ve seen over six times, and I feel somewhat embarrassed that this is one of them. Four of those initial viewings were within a year of the film’s release, when I was in my final stages of devotion to the series. The movie felt like a shot in the arm to a lot of fans, thrusting the show into the cultural spotlight for a brief moment, but when I finally came back to Earth and returned to the series as it was, I barely made it two more seasons before calling it quits. But I really enjoyed the movie when it came out. A lot of people did. A Simpsons movie was something everybody was waiting for. It was special. There was a greater air of importance to the idea of a feature film back then, so surely The Simpsons Movie would bring us something completely new, maybe even recapture the magic of the classic era. But here’s the issue: movies aren’t TV. And TV isn’t a movie.

Movies based on television shows are a tricky thing. You can think of a movie as just an extra-long episode, but it really is a completely different animal. What’s great about a certain show isn’t necessarily going to translate to a longer format, so one might reconsider the kind of story they want to tell, but if you change things too much, then you start to lose what makes the show so special. It’s a very difficult balancing act, and I can think of very few success stories. The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie is probably the best example I can point to: while still feeling mostly like an extra-long episode, it weaved in an actual emotional journey for the title character and added a whole live action section (and infamous celebrity cameo) in the third act, giving the movie something truly unique for the big screen (the two ensuing sequels range from mediocre to pretty damn terrible). Beavis and Butt-head Do America thrusts our two imbecilic protagonists into a big movie story as best as it possibly could, with the joke throughout that they’re just kind of drifting through a larger plot that they have no awareness or interest in. I do really enjoy the movie, but the simplistic magic of the series’ small-minded stories was inevitably lost in the feature film adaptation. As for The Simpsons, it has in its favor a stable of episodes that practically feel like mini-feature films (“Marge vs. the Monorail,” “Who Shot Mr. Burns?”), as the show was no stranger to telling larger stories and utilizing a more cinematic eye. Every fan of the show speculated what a Simpsons movie might be like. One could try and imagine what a movie made during the series’ apex of quality might have been like, but honestly, I don’t even know if a movie would have even worked even back then. But all that pontificating aside, 2007’s The Simpsons Movie is what we got. This is it. It exists. And watching it one more time, I gotta say, I can’t think of another movie that I am this indifferent about.

Last time around, I gave the movie “the most apathetic recommendation ever,” and I feel like I still share those sentiments. Except for the recommendation part. Now, there’s no need to even give a recommendation at all, considering I don’t see any possibility that anybody reading this hasn’t already seen the movie. But if by some bizarre happenstance, someone stumbled onto this blog and is wondering whether or not they should watch The Simpsons Movie, I would say no. That’s not to say the movie is bad, not at all. There are a handful of jokes that I can’t say I laughed at this time around, but I definitely acknowledged were funny. The whole cast is definitely giving it their all, with some pretty solid individual performances throughout. And while I don’t care for the overly polished HD look of the film, there are scenes throughout featuring some pretty great character animation, and director David Silverman takes full advantage of the cinematic format throughout with unique shots and visual flairs that you wouldn’t normally see on the show. But for all that positivity, there’s an overwhelming disappointment hanging over the entire film that I just can’t shake. For as much undeniable hard work went into this movie, there’s so much of it that feels rushed and ill-conceived. And for a Simpsons movie that at times tries to cater to lifelong fans, there’s an unusual amount of it that feels like it’s being made for people that have never even heard of The Simpsons, which seems incredibly bizarre to me. There’s just so much about the movie that feel incredibly off, it makes it that much more difficult to enjoy what actually does work.

I truly don’t understand why a Simpsons movie barely features the many beloved denizens of Springfield, opting to separate the Simpson family from the rest of the town at the end of act one. The film is ostensibly about the town of Springfield and its rescue, but it doesn’t play much of a role at all outside of the first thirty minutes or so. The colorful characters of Springfield are such a core element of the series, and here they’re treated as cute little add-on jokes. Why in the hell isn’t Mr. Burns the villain? We don’t step foot inside the power plant, the school, or the Kwik-E-Mart. Major characters on the show since the beginning like Apu, Skinner and Willie barely get one line. I understand trying to work in moments and roles for so many characters is difficult, but that makes it all the more bizarre why they would feature so much of the movie outside of the town. It feels like they thought they needed to make the movie bigger than Springfield, featuring a big trip to Alaska and a massive government conspiracy leading all the way up to the President. I guess the thought was that’s what makes this worthy of a movie, that we got beyond the scope of the show. But if doing so robs your movie of such a rich vein of connection to what makes the show great, maybe you’re going down the wrong path. There really isn’t any reason Mr. Burns couldn’t have been the one to drop the dome over the town, excising himself from the rest of the riff-raff, and the other characters rallying to stop him. As great as Albert Brooks is in the role (as he always is), I don’t give two tits about Russ Cargill, and neither does anyone else. Hell, the writers only remembered last minute that they should actually write a scene where he confronts Homer to get our “hero and villain face off” moment, but it means nothing because they have no connection to each other whatsoever.

Homer is a huge dick in the movie. The writers talked about how they didn’t want to make him too unlikable, rewriting the script endlessly to soften him more. So, this is the softer version? From minute one, Homer is an unpleasant jerkass, calling everyone at church morons and praying for Ned Flanders to admit he’s gay (glad to see that the latent homophobia present in the series in the 2000s seeped its way into the movie as well!) If you really knew nothing about The Simpsons and went into this movie blind, if such a person could even exist (the writers seem to believe so), what is there to like about our protagonist from the start? He puts a hornet’s nest in his neighbor’s mailbox, allows his son to be charged for public nudity and forces him to walk around pants-less, repeatedly ignores and dismisses his wife… he’s a fucking asshole. My best friend doesn’t like The Simpsons, and when I first asked why, she told me she thought Homer was a huge jerk, and y’know what, considering she’s seen the movie, and I assume a handful of post-2000 episodes, I can’t really discredit her claim. I understand the movie is about Homer’s emotional journey and redemption, but he can’t be a jackass for the first 60 minutes and learn his lesson for the last 15. Homer is a likable character because he’s a lovable loser. He’s driven by his impulses, can be selfish and closed-minded at times, but his negative attributes are usually always passive. Homer’s lack of intelligence prevents him from seeing how he’s unknowingly affecting people until it’s pointed out to him, but when he finally gets it, he always tries his best to make things right. The Homer in this film is not that Homer. He bears some similar attributes, but his heart isn’t there. He’s an aggressively moronic and pitiful man who garners absolutely no sympathy throughout the film. Maybe the writers thought that seeing him get hurt so many times would feel like karmic payback. Or score some easy laughs.

The other Simpsons are there too, I guess. Marge doesn’t have much to do outside of take Homer’s abuse (“Isn’t it great being married to someone who’s so recklessly impulsive?” “Actually, it’s aged me horribly.”) She gets her big scene where she once and for all “leaves” Homer, and between pairing it with the revisionist history wedding video and the producers forcing Julie Kavner to perform it five thousand times, it’s doing all it can to try and pack an emotional wallop… but it just comes off as empty since we’ve seen these two on the rocks dozens of times before, and on top of that, I don’t even care if they get back together considering how huge a prick Homer’s been through the whole movie. Lisa spearheads the environmentalist efforts in the first act of the movie, and has what I can’t even call a subplot in her romance with Tress MacNeille doing an Irish accent. Like Russ Cargill, Colin is a completely disposable movie-only character. They originally wanted to make Lisa falling for Milhouse, which I wouldn’t have wanted to see either, but maybe we can give the eight-year-old girl a plot line that isn’t about what boy they like? Bart gets the meatiest material of all, being reduced to a sniveling mess wanting Ned Flanders to be his Daddy, a man who won’t physically assault him or force him to go around in public with his genitals exposed. It’s very strange, borderline uncomfortable stuff (Bart instinctively preparing to be choked and his confused, euphoric reaction to being patted on the back.) But this story kind of conveniently removed Marge from the equation, who mothers Bart to death every chance she gets. Where is she in all this? As far as the Simpson family goes, Bart is easily the character the writing staff has struggled with the most as the series has gone on (and on and on and on…), and the movie is a pretty clear example of that. Bart nearly in tears begging to be a part of the Flanders family? Come on.

Presented in marvelous anamorphic widescreen, the movie is trying its damndest to feel worthy of its format. There are most definitely some fun visual moments and some pretty nice looking shots and cinematography throughout the film, but its overall look is kind of bothersome to me. The more pristine and polished the show became as it got on in years felt more and more off-putting, and this feels like the ultimate version of that. The squeaky-clean varnish makes all the characters feel flatter than their early 90s counterparts. I also don’t care for the fact that literally every single character, object and background has a shadow layer on it in every single scene. I guess it’s supposed to make things pop more off the screen, but they just feel extraneous, and at worst distracting in more benign scenes that don’t necessitate any dramatic shadows. Another visual issue for me is the CG integration in the movie, which is pretty shaky on the whole. Cel-shaded 3D objects will stick out from the 2D elements, and the instances where 2D characters are placed into 3D environments for certain shots feel incredibly awkward (the family driving home from church in a 3D car, Bart almost falling off a 3D roof.) Some shots fare better than others (Homer smashing through the blockades at the lake before dumping the pig crap silo looks pretty damn smooth), but most of these more ambitious shots don’t quite hit the mark, like the above scene of the gigantic mob; as the camera passes through the 3D environment, all of the characters end up looking like paper cutouts. It’s a bit befuddling to me how within the same decade, Futurama managed to integrate 2D and 3D so well, but a big part of that is they would render entire shots in 3D, characters included, and would shoot and cut them in such a way that drew attention away from any unconvincing elements. Here, the mixture of 2D and 3D isn’t quite up to snuff yet, which ends up becoming distracting. Since 2007, there’s been incredible technical advancements utilized in wonderful films that toe the line between the two dimensions (Klaus, The Peanuts Movie, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse), but here, it’s in that iffy between stage where the effects kind of work, but also kind of don’t at the same time.

A big portion of my original review was about the behind-the-scenes stories on the commentary, how Al Jean and the writers were wholly reliant on test screenings to decide whether to keep scenes, jokes and entire characters in, or whether to fix, change or remove them. Give it a listen if you want to feel depressed. The writing staff once famous for having a James L. Brooks-signed golden ticket protecting them from network notes, completely unheard of in the world of television, is now, completely voluntarily, at the complete beck and call of some schmoe in Portland who didn’t laugh at Homer getting hit in the nuts or whatever. There’s just so many things about the mindset in the creation of this movie that are so incredibly disappointing. The biggest, of course, is the complete lack of creative confidence, which I feel I don’t have to belabor too much. This is a series that thrived solely because of its writing staff who created stories and characters that they enjoyed, and as a result, we the audience enjoyed too. Almost twenty years later, this slavish dependence on audience approval makes the staff feel like scared and tired old men who can’t stand by their own convictions. All of this constant rewriting and rethinking based on focus group response resulted in a movie that not only feels completely watered down, but with a confused plot with things that don’t quite connect. The “thousand eyes” in the prophecy used to refer to an entire forest full of mutated creatures, but since that was reduced to one multi-eyed squirrel in the final cut, it doesn’t make sense. Despite being incredibly important to kicking off the plot, Plopper just disappears from the movie after the first act. The Simpsons are in hiding at the motel from a wide sweeping manhunt, then go to a carnival in broad daylight with no issue. In Alaska, the kids’ clapping avalanches Homer back into the house during the day, then it’s immediately nighttime for he and Marge’s Disney sex scene. When you rip your script to pieces so many times so close to the film’s release date, you’re gonna end up with some scattershot elements left in your finished film.

What’s most baffling to me is why the writers felt they had to do any of this. With eighteen years of public awareness and good will toward The Simpsons, they basically had carte blanche to do whatever the hell they wanted. FOX knew that they could open The Simpsons Movie and it would be a huge box office success by its name alone, so I’m sure they gave fuck all about what the movie was actually about. You would think this would be incredibly freeing creatively, lending you the ability to do basically whatever you wanted, so it’s very odd how the writers seem to have hobbled themselves in kowtowing to public response in such an extreme manner. I get that writing a film is a whole other ballpark than a TV script, and you want to make sure everything is working for an audience, but the endless amount of scenes and moments cited on the commentary being completely reworked after test screenings really speaks to a bizarre lack of confidence on their part, and that unsure attitude works its way into the movie itself. It’s impossible for me to separate the film from the behind-the-scenes stuff, but I can say this is one of those movies I remember liking less each time I saw it, for reasons I can’t entirely articulate (despite me being at like three thousand words at this point). But there’s definitely an overall malaise I get from this movie, a film made with good intentions and a lot of effort, but still a conflicted mess in what it wants to be. Is it social/political satire, or emotional character piece? PG-13 edgy, or genuine, saccharine emotional? For super fans of the show, or people who never watched it? In trying to be everything, and cater to as many people as possible, you end up with a movie for basically nobody, and that’s a sad fact.

I remember hearing Mike Judge talk about Beavis and Butt-head Do America, about how he wanted to make the movie as best a representative of the series as he could, figuring the film would be more readily available than the series itself, sitting on video store shelves, and as such wanted the movie to reflect the best qualities of the TV show. And at the time, he was right. In the 1990s and 2000s when Blockbuster was king, movies were the big dogs, and TV was secondary. A TV show getting a movie was a huge coup, being viewed as a step-up in mediums. But over time, things changed. With the rise of premium cable channels, and later, streaming services, TV series became more prestige and valued. At the same time, video stores shuttered as streaming TV started to become more and more peoples’ first choice for home entertainment. As different streaming services continue to emerge, beloved TV series have become hugely hot commodities, as these services have to promote how they’re just exploding with large amounts of content for people to binge, much more than individual movies. A sizable piece of Disney+’s launch marketing was the inclusion of thirty seasons of The Simpsons, and I would think that was a pretty huge selling point for a lot of people that they could watch the entire show. The Simpsons Movie was also available, but just as a minor addendum to the series itself. And that’s basically what the movie is: a disposable vestigial limb to a once-great series. It had its brief moment in the sun when it came out, everybody was singing the Spider-Pig song for like a couple weeks, but now, fourteen years later, there really isn’t much of a reason to go back to it at all.

27 thoughts on “The Simpsons Movie Revisited

  1. The last time I saw the movie was back in 2018. I thought the first half was really good. The pacing was steady and there were a lot of good jokes. But then once the Simpsons go to Alaska, the movie falls off and it doesn’t really recover until Homer finds out that Marge is leaving him. I wouldn’t say this movie restored the feeling of classic Simpsons, but there are definitely moments that remind me of it. “Best kiss of my life.” “The best kiss of your life so far.”

    I agree with a lot of your points, Mike. There are a million different things they could have done with this movie to make it better, or a true classic animated film that would stand the test of time. The talent was there, the ambition was there, but in the end, it just……didn’t work out that way. But I think one of the reasons the movie feels like this is because the writers were genuinely scared that it wasn’t going to work out.

    Mike Reiss said on Talking Simpsons that he didn’t think people would be that interested in seeing a Simpsons movie. He wasn’t expecting it to be the commercial success that it was. Whether he was just being modest or not is one thing, but let’s think about this. These weren’t the same people who started working on an animated series for an upstart network with no expectations placed on them. These were industry professionals who knew what prestige a movie based on the series carried. They weren’t making it in a vacuum. If it failed, there was a lot of money on the table that would end up being burned. People would get fired, and the reputation the movie would have is something that would follow it around for life. We know what happens to animated shows when their movies fail. Hey Arnold, The Powerpuff Girls. Who talks about their movies? Exactly. Even the South Park movie, as successful as it was, is more of a product of its time than anything else and doesn’t even reflect the show at its absolute best. So the odds were stacked against the crew to make this movie work.

    That’s not to say they’re entirely blameless. If you’re constructing an all-star writing staff, why are Ian Maxtone-Graham and Matt Selman a part of it? Why weren’t Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein asked to take part in it? That’s an easy layup that was missed. Why was the script rewritten so many times that it doesn’t even resemble the original vision? Why cater to test audiences who probably didn’t know anything about the show beyond it being about those weird-looking yellow people? I understand that making a Simpsons movie is a task that not everyone is up for, and anything you do will be considered wrong. But if there was any time for the crew to go back to that old-school mentality of ignoring everybody but themselves, and pitching jokes at two in the morning, it was here. This is the only time where it would have been necessary to gain 70 pounds and work 80-100 hours a week again.

    I don’t know. I’m more interested in the other responses.

    1. “If you’re constructing an all-star writing staff, why are Ian Maxtone-Graham and Matt Selman a part of it? Why weren’t Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein asked to take part in it? That’s an easy layup that was missed.”

      Good points. It’s interesting that George Meyer, John Swartzwelder and Jon Vitti were credited when they hadn’t been on the show in a few years. I wonder what their contributions were.

      To me, this is always going to be a 2007 artifact instead of a great movie, but it does bring me back to that period effectively. For one thing, they did go above and beyond with their marketing, whether it was the 7-Elevens converted to Kwik E Marts (I went to one) or the Simpsonize Me website. I think that did a lot to build up the hype.

      And it was in fact very fun to see on the big screen. They upped their production values for movie theaters (which, surprisingly, not every feature-length adaptation bothered to do that. Looking at you, Doug’s First Movie), and having an audience of Simpsons fans of all ages laughing along with all the jokes really heightened the experience.

      However, it certainly had flaws, and those became more obvious when you stripped away that theatergoing experience. There are plenty of genuinely funny jokes (I agree Burns should have been given more scenes, but I actually did like his one scene. It felt more in character with the villainous Burns of past episodes than the pathetic old man he had become by that point), but for a 90-minute movie, there should have been a lot more. There are a lot of comedic dead zones, and some of the choices don’t make sense. Having Arnold Schwarzenegger as president just seemed to be another out so they could continue to not make fun of George W. Bush, even though the material would have still fit him just fine. (“I was elected to lead, not to read” is a line that continues to be sadly prescient.)

      Apart from a DVD rewatch right after it came out, I can’t say I’ve sat and watched it the entire way through since it came out, just catching various scenes whenever it’s aired on FX or FXX. Perhaps I should to see what other observations I can make, but each partial viewing has left me with less of a desire to spend 90 minutes doing so.

    2. “We know what happens to animated shows when their movies fail. Hey Arnold, The Powerpuff Girls. Who talks about their movies? Exactly. Even the South Park movie, as successful as it was, is more of a product of its time than anything else and doesn’t even reflect the show at its absolute best. So the odds were stacked against the crew to make this movie work.”
      About the only movies based on animated TV shows I’ve really only seen anyone talk about regularly are the SpongeBob movies and the 1986 Transformers movie, and even then those are mostly within their own niches. It’s sad when a movie made on one of the most influential prime-time shows in history is overshadowed by an extended toy commercial anime movie that kills off half its cast in 30 minutes to 80s hair metal, and has Orson Welles as a planet.

      And I feel that’s the issue with the Simpsons Movie as a whole, it’s been overshadowed by a lot of things, including its own hubris and tie-ins. 2007 I argue was one of the worst years in movie history, and this movie definitely doesn’t challenge it. I haven’t really seen the movie in full since 2008-ish or so, but with the brief bits I have seen again, I can tell you that a good chunk of the issues Post HD switch Simpsons has had either debuted here, like Marge’s dying voice, the overly stiff computer-assisted animation and Homer’s decay into complete Jerkassery, or were intensified by the movie, i.e. everyone outside of Homer being superfluous or over the top cartoon antics that wouldn’t fit in the series’ universe when it was good.

      And I ask, for what purpose, outside of making the flaws the show had post-2000 worse, did the movie even have on the series in the larger scale of things? Absolutely nothing. Neither Colin or Russ make appearances after this and Plopper’s just a punchline. The dome is never even brought up again outside of that one version of the opening released after the movie, and hell, at the end of the movie Homer’s basically forgiven for his crimes. Double hell, the 500th episode, probably my third least favorite episode from Season 23, didn’t even mention the movie’s events when the town shuns the family out of Springfield. The only time I’ve seen anyone mention this movie, both in show and out, was on that MAD animated series where they parodied Under the Dome and pointed out it ripped of this movie twice. Just goes to show how forgettable this movie got to be over time, I suppose.

      As for my thoughts, I’ve rambled on enough, so I’ll be quick on it: It had its moments, but the plot makes no sense, and not only does Homer learn nothing from all this, but the Town’s quick to forgive Marge and the kids when they get forced back under the dome despite wanting to kill them WITH Homer before they escaped to Alaska. Speaking of, why there of all places? This is again an issue I have with “At Long Last Leave” (though I won’t get to it here), but why not one of the other towns that are supposedly nearby? I’ve always wanted to see an episode where the Simpsons are forced to move to Shelbyville and have to deal with that setting and how both cities hate each other. Like I said though, there are some okay moments, I laughed at a few of the lines and Mr. Burns was on point for the one scene he plays a part in. But that’s about it. All this movie mostly is, is just an HD-era Zombie Simpsons, but with a larger budget behind it.

  2. I’m a fan and also not a fan of this Movie. I loved it growing up, but also realized it has its faults. It keeps the characterisation, but it also keeps the status quo- even if the family nearly breaks up, it holds no dramatic weight because you know they’ll just keep fucking with each other no matter how fundamentally broken it is. Yay, Homer is forgiven for nearly poisoning a town’s water supply! Yay, we just ignore that Bart is developing alcoholism and father identity issues! Yay, we ignore the fact that the town is willing to kill a family, including a BABY, because of one man’s problems! Is this really the type of story to root for? And do they really think fans will just ignore the aftereffects of the plot?

    I distinctly remember the recent NY Times story from a James Bond producer voicing concerns of the Amazon MGM deal. Most damning, he hated the idea of a focus group, suggestions continually butchering a film until it was cliche, boring, and already done. Reading that kinda opened my eyes on perhaps the biggest problem with the Simpsons nowadays. Instead of thinking about what the fans care about, they only care about what THEY think about it. The Apu situation is a perfect example- they basically just said “we’ll probably deal with that later… eh, fuck it, it’s too big for us.” That may be why streaming has overtaken TV and movies- there’s enough at stake that people will try ANYTHING to get an audience. But what’s putting streaming ahead is that they actually LISTEN to the fans rather than just say they will.

    I’ll just say this: at least the goddamn RUGRATS movies actually had an impact on the series. Outside of the first minute of the following episode, one reference about 4 years later, and one episode done when everyone stopped caring, absolutely NOTHING is carried over from the show, and that makes what’s supposed to be a fulfilling and heart-warming ending ring as hollow as a Faberge egg.

    1. “Outside of the first minute of the following episode, one reference about 4 years later, and one episode done when everyone stopped caring, absolutely NOTHING is carried over from the show, and that makes what’s supposed to be a fulfilling and heart-warming ending ring as hollow as a Faberge egg.”

      Another problem; the movie might as well be in its own universe, given it had practically no impact on the series. This may have been the fact The Simpsons is infamously, and to its own detriment, an episodic series that wants everything to be self-contained, but when nothing carries over or is maintained, then… did the movie really happen in a technical sense?

  3. I did say I wasn’t gonna talk about The Simpsons Movie, but what the fuck; you posted this early, so let’s rock.

    I absolutely agree that the show was given a huge shot in the arm by the movie since, for many years, that’s all people were demanding (well, that, or a series finale, depending on who you asked), with the announcement giving people that hope. Hope that the show would become funny again due to the movie.

    Funnily enough, it didn’t happen. The show stayed crappy, and the movie aged like milk. Folks that discussed how Homer has pathos soon realized what a horrible person he is most of the movie. For a show well-known for its wide variety of characters, they’re all but reduced to cameos and quick jokes rather than contributors to the story as a whole. And the general structure of the movie began to crack even larger than the the damage Stampy caused to the glass dome itself once everyone pointed out all the plot holes and contrivances.

    For starters, I think the movie that WASN’T made would probably be more fascinating, if not funnier, than the movie that WAS made, if that makes sense. The fact these fogeys were terrified of test groups and kept removing dozens of jokes, scenes, and plot details, not only changed the tone of the movie (we don’t see the “thousand eyes”, since only the Burger King ad spot featured the various mutated critters, while the film just had the squirrel) but what probably was the original vision. I think Marge going crazy and being rolled out of the church in a carpet would’ve been funnier than Grampa cause we’re used to Grampa going crazy, but Marge? That’s out of left field. For all we know, Plopper had a larger role in the film beyond the first act. I WANNA SEE FLAMING MUMMIES BEING TOSSED OUT OF A MUSEUM TRUCK! What the hell was Wiggum yelling at Apu about in that trailer? All that is lost media.

    Then, the characters. Homer is easily at his worst. You described a lot of the horrible things he does, but you didn’t mention my least favorite part; Homer causes the whole town to get sealed up due to dumping the pig shit silo into the lake cause he wanted to grab free donuts instead of following through and disposing of his waste properly. When confronted by Marge about why he dumped said shit silo into the lake in the motel room, Homer doesn’t explain that he would rather get donuts than be responsible, but instead shrugs and has the “Oopsie-daisy!” look on his face. It’s that utter lack of admission of guilt which not only has been established earlier in the film when Homer blames Bart for skateboarding nude despite daring him to, but various other moments throughout the film. If you didn’t grow up watching the beginning of the series, and this was your introduction to Homer Simpson, your conclusion would be that this was a horrible, horrible human being, and that the writers believed that the solution to balancing out his horrible deeds was through excessive physical torture rather than, you know, not writing him like a douchebag? Same with Bart. Seasons 10 and 11, looking back, see Bart’s character annihalated overall, but later seasons weren’t quite done with him, as they would try and waffle him between “crybaby weenie”, “unrepentant hellspawn”, and “very horny”, so this movie decides that “Bart doesn’t like Homer, so Bart wants a new father”. Besides the whole issue behind how Bart in earlier seasons shared his father’s sentiment that the Flanderseseses were lame, it would be stronger to tie your plot with Bart and Homer interacting, rather than Bart constantly seeking solace or approval elsewhere. But that’s me. Marge is Marge, unfortunately. Seemed like outside of “Throw the Goddamn bomb!”, they thought of nothing for her besides forcing Julie Kavner to nearly rip her vocal cords out during that one read. And Lisa served as exposition with a useless love interest.

    I disagree about Russ Cargill a little. While Mr. Burns as a main antagonist sounds like a larf, those days came and went, thanks largely due to the show not understanding what made him threatening anymore. Ironically, Russ both works and doesn’t work. One of the earlier versions of Russ (the version used for the Burger King toy line, as well as in a deleted scene on the DVD) would teeter towards the “well-intentioned extremist” category due to how much he cared for the environment, yet nobody else in the government cared at all for it, or his department. Yet, when given the opportunity, he does whatever it takes to save it, even deciding to destroy an American town (and I can also imagine what this character would look like if he had a similar stand-off to Homer and Bart, complete with shotgun and lousy handling). This version of Russ works better with isolated jokes, but he fails as a main antagonist since his character is now redefined as a corporate suit who bought his way into government and is instead goaded into randomly doing something by a president that isn’t interested in thinking things through (which Russ later uses against him). That sequence doesn’t help Russ as a villain, in spite of them addressing how he got into government and his ulterior motives as a person who doesn’t care for the environment are just handwaved, whereas the original version seemed to be developed better.

    It’s also a movie that you can tell is stuck in a time period, such as the ad crawl for a FOX TV show, when people didn’t think Green Day were lame, and the casual homophobia.

    You got me thinking… movies are no longer viable for an entertainment product, especially in animation. Used to be, “The Movie” was a huge deal, since as you put it, though I didn’t think about it the way you described it with video rental stores, it would give you credibility. Unfortunately, not every TV show that managed to make it to cinema would have a successful time on the big screen (MST3K: The Movie, anyone?), though by and large, the fact that you made it meant you had a product that could be sold on VHS or syndicated on TV. It was an additional avenue for profit down the road. But, we’re now in the age of the streaming service since people want quantity over quality, and one movie versus 8 to 10 seasons of the same TV show is a heavily imbalanced weight. While “The Simpsons Movie” is part of Disney+, it’s not necessarily a hallmark of said channel, nor do you actually see it promoted. You gotta go way out of your way to find it, buried along with unwanted Garfield movies tangled as part of movie rights hell and the dozens of Air Buddies sequels nobody asked for. Meanwhile, “The Simpsons” series is front and center of Disney+, a cornerstone of a service that was one of the reasons for it coming to be (besides the vast Disney library). It is a rather apt, if not depressing, reminder of how time has made it where it is longevity, not the cinema, that is now the end goal for the producer in television.

    1. Personally, I think it’s great that longevity has replaced cinema as “the end goal for the producer on television”. A series usually gets a movie, effectively, by winning a popularity /profitability contest and therefore attracting the attention of the real crooks, those sleazy Hollywood producers. But something can be bad and still incredibly popular for various reasons. Whereas time usually filters out works of poor quality, so if longevity is your end goal, you’re incentivized to make something great. Much more so than if your dream goal is to make a movie.

      Or you could be like Zombie Simpsons and just ride the coattails of a genuinely great work while still being crappy yourself.

      Eh. No system’s perfect.

    1. If nothing else, I loved that, for once, Homer actually felt guilty about what he did, even if it practically had to be screamed through a megaphone for him to understand. It was cathartic to see some actual consequences to the dumbass actions he does. Again, though, in ZS every episode must reset the status quo, so he’s gonna forget all about that by next episode.

      For that matter, why couldn’t Homer pin it on Krusty for selling him the pig, have him try to get revenge by reenacting, or maybe even reuniting with, Sideshow Bob as a result? Or have him frame Lenny for forcing him away from recycling the silo properly. Or the donut shop for triggering Lenny with the health inspection? Or even Marge, and THAT would cause them to break up? Sure, that’d be sacrilegious as all hell for the nature of the show, but… it would be new and fresh, at least.

      Focus groups would probably hate that, tho.

  4. I really can’t disagree with any of this. I skipped seeing the movie in theaters, so maybe if I hadn’t, I would’ve enjoyed my first viewing more, but watching it for the first time when I got the DVD for Christmas in 2007, I remember this feeling of “…So this is what we waited for?” And it’s so short, too, and ends with such a whimper – at the end when Homer fell off the roof and the credits came up, I literally said “Wait, that’s it?!”

    I haven’t watched it in over ten years, and the last time I did, I just had the audio commentary on in the background while I did other shit. It’s such a nothing movie. But it makes sense considering it came out when The Simpsons had become such a nothing show. I’m not overwhelmed, and I’m not underwhelmed. I’m just whelmed.

    If nothing else, though, it does serve as a valuable writing tool, especially for someone like me who struggles with the anxieties of trying to please an audience. Because when you knock yourself silly trying to impress everyone, to make a product that you think will satisfy every single person in the world, this is what happens: a bland pile of mush that no one will remember. Just trust your own instincts and make what you want to see. The right people will find it.

    1. Me too. Friends saw it in cinema but I refused to go. I knew it would probably be slightly better than the show at the time, but certainly have far better production values, but nowhere near what it used to be like. I rented the DVD from lovefilm in Christmas 2007 and had the exact same reaction. Is this what everyone was waiting for. I’ve watched the odd zombie simpsons episode now and then but I’ve never watched the film since 07 and never will.

  5. This movie definitely gets worse each time you watch it. One other problem: Very few quotable lines. I can recite tons of dialogue from the series, but the movie? Slim pickings. The best verbal joke appears during the end credits: “A lot of people worked hard on this film, and all they ask is for you to memorize their names.”

    1. That is one of the few lines from the movie I quote regularly. That and “Sir, I think you may have gone mad with power.” “Of course I have! You ever try going mad without power? It’s boring, no one listens to you.”

    2. I don’t know why, but the scene where Homer tells the cops that Bart is out of control and then all Bart gets is his shirt is hilarious to me. This exchange right here kills me every time:
      “You didn’t get my pants.”
      “Who do I look like, Tommy Bahama?”
      “This is the worst day of my life.”
      “The worst day of your life so far.”

      1. “Worst day of your life so far” has become a bit of a meme template. As I mentioned earlier, “I was elected to lead, not to read” is a line that continues to be relevant for a lot of today’s politicians, which honestly feels more sad than anything.

        Comic Book Guy’s “I’ve spent my entire life doing nothing but collecting comic books…and now there’s only time to say…LIFE WELL SPENT!!” isn’t bad either.

      2. “The government lost its credibility, so it’s borrowing some of mine.” (Used in reference to the “Celebrating America” thing from earlier this year after Biden’s inauguration)
        “I’m the mascot of an evil corporation.” (Yeah, we all know.)

        For lines I personally laughed at that aren’t relevant to anything:
        “Uh, Chief, I think there was a man in that carpet.” “I thought so too, but he said ‘Yard trimmings’. You really need to learn to listen, Lou.”
        “More than two shakes and you’re playing with yourself.” (I actually say that sometimes.)
        “What a great little accident you turned out to be!”
        I also laughed at the bait and switch joke with the glue and the jetpack, the Emperor Moe bit, also the lightswitch bit.

      3. “The government lost its credibility, so it’s borrowing some of mine.”

        I also remember that line getting invoked when it took Tom Hanks getting COVID for people to start taking the virus seriously (not counting the people who still don’t take it seriously, of course.)

        From that same scene, I also like “It’s nowhere near where anything is or ever was.”

    3. “Bountiful penis!”

      “Lisa’s got a boyfriend, that she’ll never see again!” *PUNCH*

      “Welcome to Alaska, here’s a thousand dollars.”

      “More than two shakes and it’s playing with yourself?” *Slap slap slap, punch KICK*

  6. Great re-review of that one time in 2007 when people suddenly gave a shit about The Simpsons again. The movie isn’t great and it has many of the problems the show’s had since that fateful year of ’98 but it’s probably the best thing to come out of the Zombie Simpsons tenure. Actually, no. The Simpsons Hit & Run is. Isn’t it funny how all those Simpson games that came out during the classic era are super forgettable and nothing to write home about while the best Simpsons game came out right before the animated atrocity that was Season 15? But anyway, The Simpsons Movie isn’t terrible but it makes me uncomfortable. At least it was what got me into the series as a young ‘un back in 2007.

  7. So…what the hell is Cargill’s motive anyway? What does he even stand to gain by blowing up Springfield? That line about going mad with power makes for an amusing enough one-liner, but it’s kind of lame if that really is the be-all, end-all to what’s driving him.

    1. I believe it’s because he’s the head of an agency that people barely cared about inside government and out, so when he actually had a chance to DO something, he took full fucking advantage, and it’s entirely possible it’d probably work a bit better if the water WASN’T poisoned by pig shit. Just leave it as is and actually give Lisa a reason to bitch for once. SpongeBob, of all things, did this well. He wanted to save his beloved jellyfishing spot in SpongeBob’s Last Stand (only 22 minutes, mind you) and the town barely cared- they wanted the highway because Plankton made it sound amazing, like a snake oil salesman. They didn’t realize, though, that the jellyfish, who do sting them, would still have to go SOMEWHERE once their environment was destroyed… and the moment they attack, SpongeBob hijacked the news and basically said “see, told you so! Now please help me.”

      Kinda sad that someone like Plankton somehow got fleshed out more than Albert Brooks. It wasn’t even the best SpongeBob special, either, but it’s fucking gold compared to this movie.

  8. I was saying Boo-urns…err, I mean, I haven’t seen the movie. As silly as it sounds, the polished, HD look took away the little interest I had at the time (I’d already stopped watching new episodes.) In the time since then, I really haven’t given it much thought. Doesn’t sound like I’ve missed much.

  9. Russ Cargill may have been a forgettable villain, but at least they didn’t ruin Hank Scorpio like they originally planned

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s