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 The Simpsons Movie

I went to see “The Simpsons Movie” this past weekend, and the $50-100 million-dollar question is (depending on which budget rumor you believe) does it live up to all the hype? Well, I don’t think anything would live up to that kind of hype, but “The Simpson’s Movie” gives it the old college try.

The plot is kinda kooky, and it goes something like this, Homer screws up and accidentally (on purpose) pollutes the town river with pig waste. Springfield is immediately quarantined as an environmental hazard, so President Schwarzenegger and a pushy EPA chief orders the town to be encapsulated/ trapped in a protective bio-hazard glass dome. D'oh!

Cowabunga Dude!

It took 17 years to bring this beloved animated family to the big screen. Wow, has “The Simpsons” really been on for 17 years?

I guess it has. At the risk of giving away my age I remember watching the very first episode– back in the late 80’s on “The Tracey Ullman Show” that was later developed into a half-hour prime time show.

There have been rumors of a “Simpsons” movie in the past, yet it never came about -till now that is. But if you think about it, really, why did it?

I mean you can get your Simpsons fix for free every week-scratch that everyday thanks to syndication. So if parting your hard-earned money to see the long running The “Simpsons Movie” makes you feel like a sucker…well, guess what Homer agrees with you!

The opening scene has him ridiculing the audience that is about to watch his big screen debut. And that kind of weird, tongue in cheek twist is exactly what makes seeing this film a treat. But are we suckers to be ponying up to see this odd family onscreen when they’ve been in our living rooms for nearly 20 years? Yes and no. At a breezy 88 minutes, the film had me laughing, while not exactly "belly" laughing- let's just say-quite often. In other words, for those of us who chuckle every now and then while watching the T.V. version; expect the same level of amusement with the movie.

That being said however, I found that the producers played it safe and decided to stick close to the formula. Why mess with success that made the show an animated classic, right? But that’s not to say that it just felt like an 88 minute extended episode either, they used their new PG-13 freedom to its fullest.

There are jabs at both religion and the U. S. government throughout the movie. Sexual innuendos, mild animation violence, mild-language, bathroom humor for the kiddies and things not otherwise allowed on TV such as drug use (Otto lighting up a bong) and one scene of brief nudity are also here.

In other words if you’ve even wanted to see Marge and Homer do the nasty, hear Marge curse or witness some Bart nudity, here’s your shot. Think of it as a little bit of “Family Guy” mixed with a little bit of “South Park” toned down.

SideNote: The Simpsons isn’t the first TV show to make it to the big screen. “South Park” had its own successful film back in 1999, thank you very much!

Don't have a cow, man

“The Simpsons” is at the end of the day a sitcom, even though the characters are yellow and have blue hair (or three single hairs) and have friends who range from a clown who is never seen without his makeup to a bar owner who has a secret crush on the wife. But it’s not a cartoon. Kids may laugh at some of the antics of Bart and all that but it’s the adults who are the ones who really get the jokes and the ones it is aimed to entertain to.

I think the reason everybody likes them so much is because they face many of the same hurdles as many of us average Americans do: never having enough money, stuck at a dead-end job that barely pays the bills, with rude disrespectful children.

But all and all they love each other and are incredibly loyal to one another. For example Homer says to Marge and the kids ¾ into the movie “I've really come to like you guys” (Sniff, sniff Oh, Homey!)

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I must admit that I am not a regular Simpsons viewer, but I have seen many episodes (mostly in rerun). So I went into the movie with no real love or special bond for the characters like so many people out there. You know who I am talking about- the true Simpsons fans who know episodes, catchphrases and lines verbatim. At times only serious Simpsonites will be laughing at the one or two inside jokes thrown in. (Admittedly, I was at a loss with a few scenes.)

You know, for all I know, the entire film was one long inside joke!

But happily if a casual fan like me can find it consistently funny, I happily predict that the hardcore fans are going to believe it was well worth the wait.

Bringing the dysfunctional family to the big screen wasn’t easy and certainly didn’t happen overnight; in fact production began back in 2001! Many attempts failed because of numerous plot ideas, script length and lack of staff, production began in 2001! The script was re-written over one hundred times.

Surprisingly, the producer and creator didn’t go to town with guest star appearances within the movie, which is something they often do in the TV series. Except for the opening scene with Green Day and a closing scene by a secret famous film star (OK, it’s Tom Hanks), the actors who voice the Fox animated TV sitcom are the big-screen stars here.

SideNote: Here’s a little bit of fun trivia for ya- The film premiered in Springfield, Vermont, which won the right through a Fox competition. Woot! Way to go Vermont! Be sure to check out more fun trivia at the end of this review.

Speaking of which judging by all the big names who have voiced characters in the past and those who are still waiting in the wings for their shot at cartoon history, the show still has a strong run ahead of them.

So, for those of you who were wondering if a good TV show could top itself as a feature length film, the good news is that “The Simpsons Movie” did it! But for the record “South Park did it first.

Fun Trivia:

· 20th Century Fox registered the internet domain SIMPSONSMOVIE.COM on 22 April 1997, nine years before the movie was finally green lighted.

· Stated before but worth repeating; Work on the script began in 2001. 158 drafts were written.

· Also stated before but bears repeating; The Simpson's movie debuted in Springfield, Vermont. 20th Century Fox held a contest to select 1 of 16 possible Springfields (spanning from Oregon to Nebraska to Massachusetts) to decide which city will host the premiere. Springfield, Vermont won, just beating out Springfield, Illinois.

·The script was so top secret that the producers personally shred the script after every voicing session.

· Moe's Tavern, as it’s called in the show, is called "Moe's Bar" in the movie.

· For the entire month of July 2007, as part of a campaign to hype the July 27th opening of the movie, 11 "7-Elevens" stores all over North America changed their names to Kwik-E-Marts, and began selling products like Buzz Cola, KrustyO's cereal, and Squishees. One store in Burbank, CA reported selling over 57,000 sprinkled donuts matching the one in the movie poster.

· Release prints were delivered to theaters with the fake title "Yellow Harvest". This was also used as a fake working title. It refers to "Blue Harvest", the fake working title of “Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi.”

·Director David Silverman had Julie Kavner do over 100 takes of a monologue in which Marge makes an impassioned plea to Homer. (Great scene by the way, well worth it.)

·The creator Matt Groening’s name is something nobody has ever pronounced right! For the record, he would like everybody in America to know he pronounces it as rhyming with “raining,” not “groaning.”

Rated PG-13

Posted by oxyjen on Aug 6, 2007


2 Comment(s):

On September 11, 2007, Josh said:
Wow. Another great review.

On September 25, 2007, said:
I am one of 200 volunteers who appeared in the winning Springfield Vermont video. After we won, my local Chamber of Commerce turned their backs on us. They excluded us from the premiere, giving our seats instead to the elite in town. Not even a mention of us in the public ceremony outside the theater. Read more at our website http://vtvid.110mb.com


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