Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Ani-MAY-tion Month: The Simpsons Movie (2007)

I have been a fan of The Simpsons for years. In fact, the show has had a large fanbase since it peaked in the mid-nineties and made its way into the public consciousness and made such a huge impact on recent pop culture. When the movie was finally released I, and many others, felt that it was coming along too late. The show had started to dip in quality, a dip that would last a number of years (and some might say it has never recovered), and it wasn't quite the non-stop source of hilarity it used to be. I was disappointed when I came out of the cinema in 2007, having just seen the movie. Now, watching the movie again, I have no idea why.

There are two things worth remembering, I think. One, The Simpsons remains one of the best shows on TV ever, even when it's not hitting the heights it once reached. Two, The Simpsons Movie is just about the best TV to film transition that any fan of the show could have hoped for. Everything is kept the same, but it's all given a bit of scope and polish to make it worthy of a feature film.

I'm not going to tell you about the characters. Anyone who doesn't know the Simpson family probably doesn't read this blog. But the plot is all about pollution bringing about some major trouble in Springfield. There's a dome placed over the entire area, and the residents are left to their own devices as resources run low and tempers start to run high. Homer is the man who caused this situation, in his usual carefree manner, but he might just be the man who can fix it all.

Everyone involved in the TV show gets to shine in the movie version, which is as it should be. Nobody would want a movie that didn't have Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Yeardley Smith, Nancy Cartwright, Harry Shearer and Hank Azaria involved. And there are some great vocal cameos from Green Day, Tom Hanks and others, with a fantastic role for Albert Brooks (as Russ Cargill, the man with a plan to "clean up" Springfield).

Director David Silverman does a fantastic job of keeping everything both cinema-worthy and in line with the show, while the wealth of writers who contributed to the script have all helped to craft something worthwhile. Normally seeing so many writers listed would be cause for alarm, but The Simpsons has always used a huge team of writers, so it's no surprise to see so many of them working on the movie.

There are things that fans will wish had been changed, and one of the most common complaints is how some of the major supporting characters are sidelined, but I can't really envision a better outcome than this. The storyline is decent, the gags are great, the characters are unchanged, no punches seem to be pulled, and there's a ridiculous sequence in which Bart skateboards through the town absolutely naked that is as smart as it is cheeky and hilarious. And those last eight words sum up why I'll never stop loving The Simpsons.


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