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.
Category: The Simpsons Movie
The Simpsons Movie
(released in US theaters July 27, 2007)
This is it. The Simpsons Movie. Any fan of the show from its inception was awaiting this day. As a kid, I remember wondering when it was coming out, and what it would be about. I hoped that my mom would let me go see it, as I knew it would hold a PG-13 rating. But it wouldn’t be until the end of my high school days before it would finally see a release. In the spring of 2006, seemingly legitimate rumors began cropping up of the movie possibly being a reality. One voice actor mentioned he read the script. Another said he had recorded lines for it. Bunk, I said. I’ll believe it when I see it. Then it came: an official release date, of July of the following summer. I was absolutely psyched. There were sneak peek clips from that year’s ComicCon. Teasers, posters and trailers started coming out through the year into the next. Regardless of my waning interest in the series at that time, I was fucking excited.
And what perfect timing; I graduated high school in June 2007, and was about to leave New Jersey to attend the University of Florida. The Simpsons had been such a big part of my life up to that point, and one of the last things I did with my friends in Jersey was go see The Simpsons Movie at midnight. It was almost like closing the book on one era of my fandom in a way. It was a pretty packed theater, a lot of people clearly super fans of the show. I remember at 11:55 or so, I turned to my best friend and said, “You realize we’re about to see a Simpsons movie, right?” I just got this surreal feeling, this movie, this event I had been waiting years to see, and I was a mere five minutes away from finally experiencing it. Well, after the trailers of course. And then it happened… The Simpsons Movie. Ninety minutes later, I walked out pretty satisfied. I saw it one more time with a friend who couldn’t make it to the midnight show, and one or two times more on DVD. But I hadn’t seen it in full in at least a good four years.So how do I even start this review? I guess by saying that I think that I lean more toward liking the film more than I don’t, and I’ll boil down the specifics as I go. To surmise in a succinct way, it’s basically a better-than-average extended episode, but since the average show nowadays is total garbage, that’s not exactly the highest praise. It’s just I remember some critics saying the movie recaptures the magic of the show’s most formative years, and was a return to form to the classic era. So, is this movie on par with seasons 1-8? Fuuuuuck no. Make no mistake, this is a Zombie Simpsons movie, and it has its fair share of problems associated with it because of it. Despite the things I like about it, I’m plagued by a humungous “what could have been,” thinking of how amazing a movie would have been if it were made sometime after season 8 or so. And ended the series. What a world it would have been…
Let me get the plot out of the way first, though I’m sure everyone reading must know it. Springfield faces an ecological crisis and the whole town gets together to pitch in and do their part to clean house. But the local lake is so deathly polluted that it doesn’t take much to push it over the top, like Homer dumping an entire silo of pig feces, courtesy of his newly beloved pet Plopper (or, Spider-Pig). This alerts the attention of the Environment Protection Agency, run by a power-mad Russ Cargill, who convinces President Arnold Schwarzenegger to quarantine the town indefinitely within a giant dome. When Homer is exposed as the responsible party, everyone in town is out for the Simpsons’ blood. The family manages to escape, and go forward with Homer’s fail safe plan he formulated just in case he ruined their lives: move to Alaska. Soon after that, they learn the government plans in destroying Springfield, but Homer is adamant about not returning after being run out. Marge and the kids leave him behind, and ultimately Homer realizes what he has to do: to redeem himself and win back his family, he must save Springfield. And he does. Hoorah.I must express my sympathy to the writers on some regard: the task of writing a Simpsons movie could not have been easy. At this point, every fan has hopes and expectations of nearly every aspect of it, and not everyone can be satisfied. So I feel any premise this movie could have had will be open for scrutiny… but the one they landed on just doesn’t feel right to me. Springfield vs. the Government, who traps them in a gigantic glass dome, constructed only God-knows-where. The movie follows the Simpsons on the run, and for two-thirds of the running time we barely see any of the rest of the cast. It just felt weird to me that Springfield played such a large role in the story, yet its inhabitants feel so absent. The Simpsons has become this crazy ensemble show with such a great cast of characters, and all of them go underutilized. Now, of course, cramming in jokes and lines for characters just so they can be in the movie is no good, but couldn’t the plot have been more focused on the town? You already have a great villain in Mr. Burns, friends of the Simpson family that can help them on their quest…. I found myself missing characters as they would show up on screen for about five seconds before we cut back to the Simpsons again.
The main thrust of the story centers around, big shock, Homer, and his character turn of not being such a selfish jerk and to do unto others. Yep, the star of many seasons, Jerkass Homer is very much present in the movie, but to be fair, dulled down to a less extreme level. But having his son face juvenile court in lieu of attending a one-hour parenting session after a prank that he instigated, and forcing him to walk around in public without pants on is pretty rough. Later, when it’s announced that Springfield is going to be destroyed, he’s adamant about not returning to help, even though he’s solely responsible for dooming the town in the first place. At least we see that he suffers consequences for his actions in that this is what causes Marge and the kids to leave him, thus leading to his grand epiphany. But as our star, and the one we should root for in the end, it’s still difficult to really feel for or side with Homer; he’s still a far way gone from the lovable lug I used to know from the classic years.The other family members have their own little scraps of story. Marge allows herself to once again get bamboozled by Homer’s nonsense, leaves him for the “last time,” and of course they get back together in the end. Meanwhile, Lisa gets a disposable love interest who will never see again ever. The biggest, and most peculiar, subplot involves Bart developing a kinship with Flanders. After being betrayed and then ignored by his own father, Bart begins to yearn for the type of kindly, non-abusive parenting utilized by his neighbor. I really want to see or understand where they were going for with this, but it doesn’t work for me at all. It’s like they had to severely neuter Bart to get this to work; why would he give a shit about having a decent father figure? And he forlornly looks in at Flanders tucking his kids in tightly (“Huh. So that’s what ‘snug’ is.”) Marge mothers him all the time, and moreover, like any ten-year-old boy, he’s annoyed by it. This leads up until the very end, when Springfield is minutes from total destruction, he approaches Flanders like a wounded puppy with a small request (“I was just wondering, before I died, I could have a father who cared for me.”) It feels so un-Bart, I just can’t buy into this.
Humor-wise, the movie’s pretty much a mixed bag. There’s quite a few works that hit their marks really well, and others that… don’t so much. Used (and over-used) of course is Homer getting injured; why spend time wracking your brain writing clever material when you can have Homer pierce his eye with a hammer or fall through the roof? Due to being locked down in the dome, the side characters only end up with a few token scenes, that aren’t hysterical, but leave you wanting to see more of them. That just leaves the antics of the Simpson family, which at times is amusing, but nothing really we haven’t seen a thousand times before, and the stuff with Russ Cargill, who, thanks to a fantastic performance by Albert Brooks, provides some of the best laughs of the movie. But of all the gags in the whole film, I’d say only 20% of them really triggered a genuine laugh out of me, which is a bigger ratio than the episodes now, but sorrily low considering you’d think they’d have stepped up their game on a feature film.But here’s the most important factor in all of this: there’s this odd feeling I got through almost the entire movie. It had this calculated, airless quality to it, an aura I just couldn’t figure out. But my explanation comes thanks to the film’s DVD commentary. For almost the entire running time, Al Jean and the gaggle of writers continually discuss jokes and scenes that were cut, re-timed, trimmed down or restaged, all of a result of one thing: test screenings. They talk about how they repeatedly held previews with audiences across the country, and how they seemed transfixed on their reaction to every single frame of the film. Some schlub in Portland didn’t snicker at a line? Change it. One girl had a glazed look over this scene? Cut it out. Through this process, it feels like the movie was hacked to shreds and pieced back together so many times that a lot of stuff ended up getting lost. Like Grampa’s prophecy involves “a thousand eyes,” which originally was referring to a group of many mutated woodland critters, but now that it’s just the one squirrel, it doesn’t really make any sense.
In the end, I felt kind of sad listening to them talk about this. In its beginnings, The Simpsons was a show commandeered by snarky young comedy writers who were confident in their abilities to discern what is funny amongst themselves, threw out network notes and wanted to make something daring and subversive. This environment, I believe, is what made the show so great; they were confident they could make an entertaining, funny, heartwarming show. The difference here couldn’t be more stark; multiple times they mention jokes and scenes that they all loved, but removed immediately once one or two test audiences didn’t respond as well as they liked. Most filmmakers abhor focus groups, as they have their own creative vision and want to see it through. Meanwhile, these guys not only love them, but it became their crux. Another thing that burns me up is just the limitless potential of this project. Eighteen years of brand recognition means that the writers could have done anything with this movie. It would have had a $70 million opening regardless what it was about because it was The Simpsons Movie. Rather than use that opportunity to do something a bit risky or out-of-the-norm, instead, they went the safest route possible. But look! Marge said “goddamn” and Otto’s using a bong! Damn, we’re irreverent. The MPAA told us so.Most of this review has basically been me tearing this movie a new asshole… so why would I say I ultimately like it more than I don’t? Well, as shoddy as the story and the script are, everything else shines the whole way through. Director David Silverman and his team of artists and animators give their A-game on the film, delivering one gorgeous looking movie. The purposely crude style of the show looks great in HD, mostly due to the time and care that went into the animation, the backgrounds, the effects, everything (when the series went to HD on a TV budget… that’s a story for later). Silverman steps up from TV to film in his direction, giving us a number of interesting, dynamic shots. The voice actors give it their all, and composer Hans Zimmer supplies an amazing, heartfelt score, and them together manage to elevate and push further some of the more important scenes that would have just laid there dead with just the script alone.
Part of this whole blog’s purpose was to rip off the nostalgia goggles and take a look at the series from my current-day point-of-view. As I’ve seen, it’s astonishing how absolutely dreadful the show has been for the last ten years, and the movie definitely reflects that to a degree. It makes so little an impact, and the commentary definitely has reasons that point to why… but I just can’t hate it like I do the rest of the series. It’s largely disappointing, and irritating in hearing the writers’ almost terrified relationship with its audience, but I can’t tear part of myself away from the fact that I finally, after so many years of waiting, got to see a Simpsons movie. It looked great, it sounded great… the script was clunky and all over the place… but at least it finally happened. I guess you can consider this the most apathetic recommendation ever. And I’d barely even call it a recommendation.
Tidbits and Quotes
– I like the Itchy & Scratchy at the beginning, with use of more extreme poses and the JFK references. The commentary illustrates a bizarre mentality from Al Jean right away: he recollects that they expected humungous applause from the audience when Scratchy turns around to reveal himself as the first on-screen character of the movie. He was stunned to find in the first test screening, “you could literally hear the crickets.” This explains a lot about not just the movie, but also the series: apparently people just want to see their favorite characters. Doesn’t matter if it makes sense for them to be there, or if they have anything funny to say or do, just throw them up on screen and those morons will lap it up.
– I did like that no less than five minutes into the film, we’ve killed and are holding a funeral for Green Day, and Lovejoy mourns the passing of yet another rock band in their town. It’s a rare moment of teeth for a show that nowadays has celebrities on just to kiss their already lipstick-smeared asses.
– I’ve just recently mentioned the poor 2D-3D integration on the show lately. There’s plenty of CG-assisted shots here, but largely they all work quite well. There’s a few that don’t, most that unfortunately are at the beginning, with the family getting out of the car and Homer and Bart on the roof, but most of the time it feels seamless and blends in well enough.
– Within the thousand iterations of this script, at one point Lisa’s romance was going to be with Milhouse, until they found test audiences, of course, were not familiar with the relationship between the two. I just can’t see that working at all; Lisa falling for Milhouse? Get out of here.
– The long set-up and payoff to showing Bart’s dick is actually really funny, as is him smacking into the glass in front of the Flanderses, and Lou having to remove him with a squeegee (“Listen, kid, nobody likes wearing clothes in public, but, you know, it’s the law.”) The movie is actually pretty good until that pesky plot kicks in.
– I like how giddy Homer is about Plopper, and in turn, how completely blank-eyed and clueless the pig looks at all times. He invests so much love into that animal, yet in the end he ends up nudging the plank over when the family tries to escape from the mob. And then we never see it again.
– In the commentary they keep talking about how almost every scene and joke was put in “fairly late” or “at the last minute,” but the bit with Homer electrocuting the fish, and then himself? There almost since day one. Why tamper with comedic gold like that?
– Oh, the legacy of Spider-Pig. It became the anthem of this movie. I’m still really fond of the eerie choir version played over the epiphany scene.
– Moe’s “This is why we should hate kids!” at the town hall meeting really made me laugh.
– The Fat Tony appearance, Cletus unable to pollute the lake, Homer heimliching the cell phone out of Plopper’s gullet, Homer driving through a divider, then smashing through another one when he flees the lake… a lot of these jokes really do work at the beginning.
– I’m fine with Rainier Wolfcastle essentially subbing in as President Schwarzenegger. He gets in a fair share of good lines (“I was elected to lead, not to read!”)
– Again, I try not to be a stickler with continuity, but the writers talk about how much care they put into the movie, coming up with floor plans and mapping out the town, yet they miss (or more likely, didn’t care about) some big stuff. Right when the dome is put over the town, we see that the Simpson house is right up against it from the back and the side. That makes Evergreen Terrace not even a cul-de-sac, the road just ends to the right of the house. So, what, they live on the very edge of town. In every other episode, and even later in this movie, we see that that’s not true. Then of course is the church right next to Moe’s joke, which I don’t mind (except that they made it ‘Moe’s Bar’ so no dummies in the audience would miss out), but then later in the movie, we see the church is right up against the dome too with Moe’s nowhere in sight. Like, whatever. Who gives a shit.
– I kind of like how they destroyed the Simpson house. Not that it matters, considering it’s going to be rebuilt just as it was next season, but it’s so iconic of the series it was kind of unusually jarring seeing it completely decimated.
– In the commentary, the writers are insistent that Homer isn’t a jerk because he has a idiotic “back-up plan” of going to Alaska. I guess that makes up for everything else in the movie, and the entire series, then, huh? Homer is so reckless and careless, that he expects he’ll do something that will ruin his family’s life, so he has this fallback?
– The gas station gag with Bart defacing the wanted poster and the bizarro Simpson family appearing is pretty well executed.
– There’s a few time cuts that don’t make much sense in the movie: the Alaska scene where it appears to be daytime as Homer is avalanched into the house, then immediately into the sex scene we see that it’s sundown.
– Nice appearance by the gay steel mill workers amongst those trying to bust out of the dome.
– There’s a lot of great Cargill lines, but this may be my favorite (“Knowing things is overrated. Anyone can pick something when they know what it is. It takes real leadership to pick something you’re clueless about.”)
– I like the Tom Hanks cameo (“The U.S. government has lost its credibility so it’s borrowing some of mine.”)
– The Marge video tape is extremely painful to watch, given her breakup with Homer is explained with very valid reasons (“Lately. what’s keeping us together is my ability to overlook everything you do. And l overlook these things because… well, that’s the thing. I just don’t know how to finish that sentence anymore.”) Neither do I. Which is what makes her inevitable return to this dumb oaf all the worse. But you know, that ending with the swell of music and gorgeous animation of the two of them kissing on the motorcycle… I bought it. Goddamn, I bought it.
– The National Security Agency bit… little too on-the-nose (“Hey, everybody, I found one! The government actually found someone we’re looking for!”)
– The epiphany sequence is really well directed, it looks really neat. And seeing Homer get ripped to pieces is karmically satisfying in a weird way.
– Homer and the wrecking ball… very gratuitous. But I do love the crummy road signs (“Look, we can’t keep stopping at every ‘Sop,’ ‘Yeld,’ or ‘One Vay’ sign.”)
– More from the commentary: test audiences found both the epiphany scene and the utter decimation of the town to be “too scary.” What? They toned down the backgrounds for the latter, which is really bizarre to me. The point is that Springfield is a ravaged town, you’re supposed to feel somewhat uneasy as the Simpsons are. But heaven forbid this movie should elicit an emotional reaction, so they held back.
– I really don’t like Marge’s “goddamn bomb” line. Not for the language, but I felt that she shouldn’t have been seen until after Homer accomplished his goal and won her back. He sees her from afar, but is only reunited after he earns it. Instead, Marge just comes out of nowhere and swears, and it’s funny because she normally doesn’t. And of course, Otto smoking a bong. Funny!
– Like the callback to “Bart the Daredevil” where Homer and Bart finally make it over the gorge, just barely.
– I’m sure there’s more I can discuss, but this post is already so frigging long. Unusually most of these tidbits have been pretty fawning over things that worked and lines that were funny. That’s what’s so weird about this movie: individual scenes and jokes are amusing to think back on, but put all together it largely doesn’t work. Eh. Whatever. Only two more seasons to go with this crap.