This is my review of the recently released Simpsons Movie.
It’s been in the pipeline for years, and finally it’s arrived. One problem that creator Matt Groening didn’t need to worry about was finding an audience. Because of The Simpsons’ popularity on television, he already knew that people would flock to see this movie. The question for him then was whether to aim the story towards established fans of the show, or to appeal to an even wider audience.
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, such as Krusty The Klown, Chief Wiggum, Apu, Professor Frink, and of course the evil nuclear plant owner, Mr Burns. Sadly, in the movie, they are all reduced to minor roles, as Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie dominate the on-screen time.
The plot of the movie is barely worth describing, mainly because it is there to give all the jokes a backdrop, but the main theme is a political and environmental one, as Homer and his family are chased out of Springfield after Homer pollutes the local lake with pig manure. With the Simpsons on the run, the rest of the popular townsfolk are left behind and reduced to bit-parts in a movie that begins to limp towards its finale in the final quarter. It earns its three stars because of the frequency and quality of jokes, but falls two short of five-star status because of the poor storyline and shameful lack of screentime for so many of its brilliant supporting characters.
If you hang around at the end, a hint is dropped for a possible sequel. I hope there is one, because when Matt Groening stops counting his money, he’ll realise he can do so much better.
Reviewed by Russ Drury