The Simpsons Movie
Director(s): David Silverman
Writer(s): James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, George Meyer, David Mirkin, Mike Reiss, Mike Scully, Matt Selman, John Swartzwelder and Jon Vitti
Cast: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Harry Shearer and Hank Azaria
Reviewed by: Ian Evans on
Release Date(s)Jul 27, 2007 - Wide
There are two type of people: those who love The Simpsons and those who don’t count. For those of us on the correct side of the issue, The Simpsons Movie has been long awaited. The characters first appeared on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987. They earned a weekly Fox series of their own in 1989 and now, eighteen years later, they’re on the big screen, a fact that doesn’t escape Homer who, watching an Itchy and Scratchy movie with the family, comments, “I can’t believe we’re paying to see something we can get on TV for free.”
Springfield is already facing an environmental disaster with its terribly polluted lake when Homer makes matters worse (does he do anything else?) by dumping a silo of his pet pig’s waste in it, causing a chipmunk to mutate. Springfield, already home to mutated fish caused by Mr. Burns’ nuclear plant, is officially the most toxic place on the planet. The scheming EPA chief, Russ Cargill (voiced by Albert Brooks), presents five options to U.S. President Schwarzenegger to contain the situation and Springfield is encased in a giant glass dome. The Simpson family escapes from the city and heads to Alaska to start a new life. When Springfield’s continued existence is threatened, Marge and the kids head back to fight for its survival. Whether or not Homer joins them is at the heart of this emotional…wait…hold on.
Part of the Simpsons attitude is reflected in the very fact that they haven’t made major changes to the way they behave now that the story has moved to the big screen. Unlike South Park, which unleashed every R-rated bit they could think of when they did their feature, The Simpsons Movie takes the sensibilities (or lack thereof) that made the show a hit and just gives the story more room than 22 minutes a week can normally give them. Save for an Austin Powers-esque naked skateboard ride through the city by Bart, this movie maintains the same PG-13 stylings as the show that it sprung from. Like always, Homer doesn’t intentionally save the day as much as he arrives at the community’s desired result through a series of accidents and failures. Homer isn’t a hero, an everyday hero, or even an anti-hero. He’s just a guy who manages to mess things up on an epic scale and then mistakenly reverses his actions in between beers and donuts.
The Simpsons universe is filled with a multitude of characters outside the immediate friends and family and many of them have their moment in the sun in the film. The wonderful voice work of series regulars Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, and Harry Shearer, is supported by the series’ semi-regular voice artists Pamela Hayden,Tress MacNeille, Maggie Roswell, Russi Taylor, Marcia Wallace and Karl Wiedergott. Joe Mantegna and Albert Brooks, both who have performed on the series before, add their voices to the mix as do Tom Hanks and Green Day. Sadly, the only person missing from the mix is Bart’s Kelsey Grammer-voiced nemesis, Sideshow Bob.
As I mentioned, The Simpsons Movie doesn’t stray far from its TV series roots but when you think the city of Springfield is a pretty perfect place, that’s not a problem.