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"The Simpsons Movie"

Directed by David Silverman.
Written by Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, George Meyer, David Mirkin, Mike Reiss, Mike Scully, Matt Selman, John Swartzwelder and Jon Vitti.
Starring the voices of Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Harry Shearer and Hank Azaria.
Release Year:  2007
Review Date:  7/30/07

Folks--

I am a huge "Simpsons" fan, although I am not on a par with some of the folks I know who have memorized entire episodes, plot points, random character facts and--dare I say it--actually been watching the show regularly for 18 seasons.  No, I'm just a big fan of the humor of "The Simpsons"--the silly nature of many of our characters, the speed of the joke-telling and irreverent fun-making, the play-on-society comedy that gets funnier as the audience gets smarter.  Much of the comedy on "The Simpsons" is actually surprisingly highbrow, odd when you consider how crudely the shows are drawn.

I was never a person who was that fired up to see a movie version of "The Simpsons"; there's nothing left for the creators of the TV show to prove, they make tons of money on the property as it is, and you can never squeeze enough of the show's huge array of characters into any one movie to satisfy the hardcore fan.  But, as it is, "The Simpsons Movie" does provide laughs and will satisfy fans of the series, especially if you love the antics of the show's core family members--Homer (voiced by Dan Castellaneta; man, things have turned out well for him since "The Tracey Ullman Show"), Marge (Julie Kavner, and, uh, ditto), Bart (Nancy Cartwright), Lisa (Yeardley Smith) and Maggie (also Cartwright).

It's hard to cover the thin plot of "The Simpsons Movie" without giving it all away, but I thought that this storyline was actually the worst part about this film...I'm sure dozens, if not hundreds, of different ideas were bandied about in coming up with the film, and I am a bit surprised that a story that takes Homer from Springfield as the object of a witch hunt to Alaska to find himself to going back to Springfield to help the city escape a large dome dropped upon the city by the EPA and an evil rich guy-turned-power-hungry G-man (Albert Brooks) was the best storyline Groening & Co. came up with.  Ahh, so be it.  We get to see--at least briefly--all of the major side characters that have been a part of the TV show for years...and, I think this is the film's biggest downfall.

I know you can't get everybody in, and this is part of the reason why I wasn't that excited for a movie version of the TV show.  But, instead of squeezing in, say, a little more of Burns, or Moe, or Fat Tony, or Kent Brockman, or Milhouse, or Apu, we get a little Irish boy named Colin (Tress MacNeille), the EPA guy, Tom Hanks (as Tom Hanks) and President Schwarzenegger (odd, given that the show has famously used a character who looks and sounds JUST LIKE Schwarzenegger named Rainier Wolfcastle for nearly the entire history of the program).  This is a bad idea.  I thought that the film's second-biggest problem (again, plot was #1) was that when you only have 90 minutes, you might as well bag the idea of introducing new characters into the mix...stick to your guns and give me 30 more seconds of Police Chief Wiggum, or Principal Skinner, or Mayor Quimby.

What is here varies between kinda funny and fairly hilarious...the movie never busts out the comedic whoopin' stick and gives you a barrel laugh, a gutbuster, a roll-in-the-aisles moment.  The TV show was like this in a way--the power came in the consistency.  But, I always thought that in making a movie the writers were saving some great jokes from TV shows to throw into the movie...that didn't appear to be the case.  And, I was a little surprised that there were not more high-powered cameos; those are quite limited in "The Simpsons Movie", odd for the longest-running sitcom in TV history.

For long-time fans of the TV show, you kinda have to see this movie, but in doing so, make sure that after you watch the film, you come home and pop in Season 4 of the show on DVD; that is one of the many great seasons of the show where the true beauty comes to light.  Due to the mad amounts of cash the movie is making, one wonders if a sequel is already in the works, but for now, I'm more than happy with twice-a-day reruns on my local FOX affiliate!

Rating:  Matinee

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09