The Simpsons Movie
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir David Silverman
scr James L Brooks, Matt Groening, Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, George Meyer, David Mirkin, Mike Reiss, Mike Scully, Matt Selman, John Swartzwelder, Jon Vitti
voices Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Harry Shearer, Hank Azaria, Tress MacNeille, Pamela Hayden, Albert Brooks, Marcia Wallace, Joe Mantegna, Tom Hanks
release UK 25.Jul.07, US 27.Jul.07
07/US Fox 1h27
The Simpsons Movie
Watch out for that pig: The Simpsons attempt an escape.

shearer azaria brooks

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The Simpsons Movie TV's most enduring sitcom family finally gets their own movie, with an expansive visual style that makes it worth seeing on the big screen, even if the story feels like a specially extended episode.

After enduring The Itchy & Scratchy Movie, Homer (voiced by Castellaneta) and son Bart (Cartwright) engage in a series of dares culminating with Bart skateboarding naked through Springfield and Homer adopting a pig. But Homer ignores ecological warnings from his daughter Lisa (Smith) and dumps the pig's droppings into the lake, triggering an emergency reaction from President Schwarzenegger (Shearer) and his environmental advisor (Brooks). Suddenly Springfield is quarantined, and the entire town blames Homer. Even his wife Marge (Kavner) is fed up with him.

Fortunately, the plot isn't the main reason we watch The Simpsons. Sure, there's sharp political satire woven in, from the opening Green Day charity concert, which turns hilariously ugly, to the TV newscast about a crisis "so severe that it has its own name and theme music". Plus the continual flow of religion-themed jokes centring on neighbourly neighbour Flanders (Shearer again) and the community church.

Fans of the show may be disappointed that so few of the familiar townsfolk feature prominently, as the film stays firmly focussed on the family. And it's here that we find whatever message there may be. Mainly, the film is an excuse to notch up the humour with some witty nudity, language and innuendo, while giving the fans superb animation, classic one-liners, fantastic set pieces and a plot with Michael Bay proportions. Although to be fair, episodes of the series have been even bigger.

And while this lack of story ambition might be an anti-climax, the film is still absolutely hilarious, with rapid-fire comedy coming at us from every angle--visual sight gags, raucous dialog, hysterically funny situations, knowing references to that line between TV and film, and more throwaway jokes than you'll be able to spot with one viewing. And all of this continues from the opening Fox logo right through the closing credits. We really don't want it to end. And lucky us, after nearly 20 years, it's still going strong on television.

cert pg themes, innuendo, suspense 23.Jul.07

The Simpsons Movie
R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... The Simpsons Movie scruffybobby, net: 3/5 "This is a consistently funny, occasionally hilarious film, but there are too many lags and too many jokes that fall flat for this to truly satisfy. Given the huge number of characters that populate Springfield it was inevitable that some favourites were going to be shortchanged, and I think it was probably right to focus on the family. But Mr Burns was sorely underused. I think that this movie might be a victim of Phantom Menace Syndrome. It was never going to be able to live up to expectations. That said it is the funniest film I've seen this year and the best bits, I think, aren't in the trailer. Just expect your sides to be thoroughly tickled rather than split." (26.Jul.07)

Russell Drury, Cambridge: 3/5 "As a huge fan of the television series myself, I knew what to expect from the film, and got it. It is a long version of an episode, filled to the rim with visual, political and childish humour. The gags come thick and fast, there is rarely any time longer than a minute that you will not find yourself laughing. And this is where Groening may well have succeeded in finding a new army of followers for his yellow heroes. However, in doing so, he has probably left his loyalist followers slightly disappointed. The success of the show over the years has been as much to do with some of the more popular supporting characters. Sadly, in the movie, they are all reduced to minor roles. The plot of the movie is barely worth describing, mainly because it is there to give all the jokes a backdrop. I hope there is a sequel, because when Matt Groening stops counting his money, he’ll realise he can do so much better." (31.Jul.07)

© 2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall