Friday, July 27, 2007

Cowabunga, dude! "The Simpsons Movie" doesn't suck!


My two midnight screenings this summer couldn't have been more different.

For "Spider-Man 3," there were three (or maybe four) packed theaters, but the energy got sucked out of each by that tepid fare after no more than a half hour.

For "The Simpsons Movie," however, there were maybe 100 people spread out in one theater, and judging from the (often too) loud laughter I heard throughout, everyone left with a smile on their face. Or at least I'm sure I did.

My biggest beef and even bigger point of praise for "The Simpsons Movie" is that it's all so terribly familiar. Given how all the advance details were kept to a minimum, I was afraid we would be getting a bloated monster packed with way too many guest voices and way too epic a plot.

Thankfully, however, the movie just plays out like an extended "Simpsons" episode, albeit one from way back when the show was still fresh and at least a little subversive (but, was it ever really all that edgy? How in the world did George H.W. Bush ever get into such a huff over such a family-friendly show?) But I digress ...

Without giving anything away, I can tell you that Lisa wants to save the Earth, Bart wants to be a Flanders, Homer almost brings about the end of the world and Marge frets about it an awful lot. So, what would make you want to see it? Well, the jokes fly faster and hit their targets more often than the TV show has in many, many years.

Even if you've seen every possible advance clip for this one, and therefore had some choice gags spoiled (I really wish, for example, that I hadn't known about Spider-Pig going in), there's still plenty to surprise. And what I appreciate about "The Simpsons" on TV and here is that there are almost as many visual gags as there are spoken-out-loud ones, so you're rewarded for paying close attention.

My favorite moment, if I can offer a mild spoiler, comes after Marge has had enough and left Homer to fend for himself. Before they can be reunited, of course, he has to have an epiphany, but the five minutes in which he has it here are just a visual wonder (and, for me at least, a reminder of the great "Two Cars In Every Garage And Three Eyes On Every Fish" episode from season two.) I can't go as far as film critic Roger Moore, who I always enjoy reading, and declare this the best animated movie of the summer - "Ratatouille" is sheer perfection and more than a few notches above this one.

What it is, however, is a valentine to all the people who have stuck with the show for the last 20 years (has it really been that long?), and an almost ideal summer treat.

P.S. If any of this doesn't make sense, please forgive me. It was written when I got home from the midnight flick, when I may not have been at my most lucid. Peace out.

14 comments:

Sachin G. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sachin G. said...

Good to know the movie is not a let-down. I am hoping that the film doesn't feel like 4 back to back episodes. I am avoiding reading anything specific about it as I hope to get surprized :)

Reel Fanatic said...

It at least doesn't feel like that to me, Sachin .. Unlike many of the more recent episodes, it has a plot that makes sense as one 90-minute arc

T. Azimuth Schwitters said...

nice review, reel, and i think we see eye to eye on this one - if i have an additional knock (although it's a notoriously plebeian one), it's that the need for a "big enough" story, meaning a story with enough big-adventure pizazz, comes at the expense of what has always earmarked the best simpsons episodes: a focus on this crazy, yellow family as they do things and experience each other in situations that are alarmingly like the ones in our lives. of course, this is something we knew would happen in the movie: they weren't going to give us an hour and a half of lisa needing braces or marge starring in a neighborhood play, but the movie succeeds enough - and comes close enough to the emotional punchouts of some of the early season episodes - to make me longingly nostalgic for the beautiful little stories that i still believe this series has left in it. in any case, thanks for your review, and i'll keep reading. peace.

Reel Fanatic said...

I can see what you mean, Mr. Schwitters ... It could have used a little more of the smallish story touch, but I guess they thought they had to to fairly epic to fill the 90 minutes ...

renee said...

I'm going tonight, so I haven't seen it yet, but I agree about Spider Pig. It's hilarious and I've been singing the song for weeks, but I just wish they had saved it for the movie.

Anonymous said...

I have nothing but good things to say about this movie. I also noticed that 3/4 of the audience in the theatre werent even born when The Simpsons originated, so it just goes to show that they have affected quite a few generations.

Mercurie said...

The post made sense. (-: I at least got the sense that you enjoyed the film. which is just what I wanted to know. Given the state The Simpsons has been for many years from now, I worried that the movie might not be like the classic episodes of the show's first many years. I don't know if I'll get to see it this weekend, but I am going to try!

Madhat said...

well, the trailers do look very promising.. I just hope you are right.

Eric said...

It will be on my netflix as soon as it finishes it's theatrical release. but 8 bucks....nah, I'll wait

Sachin G. said...

Hey Keith,

I saw the trailer of the new J.J Abrams film:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1060277

It has got my attention :)
I hope the rest of the film can live up this teaser. Also, curious that a monster flick is being released on Jan 18. Both good and bad sign -- good because you hardly see any such films released at this time of the year. Bad, because in the past action/super-hero films in Feb or March are usually not that great...

Interesting trailer though.

Reel Fanatic said...

The Abrams flick is indeed a curiosity, Sachin ... I'm a little wary about something being hyped with so much mystique, but the trailer does indeed peak my interest

Emma said...

I loved it. I was laughing from the start to the finish, from Homer's "what kind of idiots would pay to watch something they get for free at home?!" to Green Day sinking Titanic style, to Bart's little skateboard escapade, most of it was brilliant. There was the odd misfire, but I overall, I couldn't have asked for me. Great fun.

The Simpsons Movie said...

It is ok type of movie. I understand that a movie needs a much deeper plot since it is much longer than an episode but this was just focused too much on the plot and not enough on creating worthwhile funny gags