Monday, July 30, 2007
THE SIMPSONS MOVIE (2007) - David Silverman
I find myself faced with quite the quandary. On one side, I have the young version of myself. A version who, at eight years of age, was exposed to the magnificent world of The Simpsons. A world which would encapsulate the next nine years of my life, helping in some way to shape the person I am now. And on the other side, I have the person who followed this idealistic young kid. A person who watched the show he loved so dearly break his heart as it declined in quality to a degree where it became a parody of itself. It's a dilemma faced by many fans. A dilemma that has divided the fans into two warring factions. A division that's almost as vicious as the division between Palestinians and Israelis. However, one thing united almost everyone in fevered anticipation. And that's The Simpsons Movie.
The Simpsons Movie faces the difficult task that has faced many television adaptations. And that's finding a story that brings a half-hour show to the big screen for ninety minutes or more. In the movie, we find the denizens of everyone's favorite town attending a Green Day concert. Pollution kills the punk rockers and legislation is quickly passed to ban the dumping of waste in Springfield. Homer rescues a pig from slaughter and pays it more attention than he does his own son Bart. Bart find solace in Homer's arch-enemy and god-loving neighbor, Ned Flanders. Homer, faced with the difficult task of disposing of his new pig's waste, dumps the poo into Lake Springfield causing environmental disaster. The Environmental Protection Agency quarantines Springfield under an enormous dome, and Homer becomes the target of everyone's frustrations. The Simpson family escape the town and set off to start a new life in Alaska.
And so, after eighteen years, countless rumors, and three years of production, it's all boiled down to this. We have our Simpsons movie. And it's an incredibly difficult thing to say, but I cant help feeling it's a bit of a let-down. As I've said before, I feel the show has suffered a decline since about season nine. Around that time, it seemed the writers had begun to run out of steam. And instead of doing the smart thing and leaving us wanting more, the creative team behind the Simpsons have continued to flog the horse despite it's quite apparent decline in health. But prospects for the Simpson Movie looked good as the trailer caused quite a few laughs. And here in lies one of the huge problems. All the major laughs were in the trailer. If you've seen the trailer (and it's been pretty hard to miss as it's been EVERYWHERE), you've seen pretty much all the best bits, bar one or two other laughs.
I really don't want to sound like a disgruntled fan-boy, but it just seemed there was way more life to the early Simpsons. There was brilliant slapstick (some of which is repeated here), savage satire (none of this, unfortunately) and layering that was so smart, that on subsequent viewings (and even to this day) you found something fresh and original. Now, don't get me wrong, the writers of The Simpsons Movie really do give it their best shot. And there are some great moments. It's just that these moments are spread very thin over the course of the movie. It starts off well, but runs out of steam as soon as the plot takes off. Because this movie is on the big screen, the writers have more scope to push the boundaries. But it just seems that they don't push them enough.
As expected, the animation is taken up a huge notch from the television series. And it shows. Everything has the familiar primary colour scheme, and the skin of the characters is it's rich, healthy yellow tone. But with a movie-size budget, there's more they can do. The special effects are great, and used with gusto. The cameos from the likes of Green Day, and Tom Hanks... actually, that's all the cameos, are used well. But again, I expected a little more.
It's been a long time coming. Calls for the Simpsons Movie have rung out since the early nineties. Some will love it. Some will not. What cant be denied is that it's really just three episodes tied together with a common story. There are some great bits. But there aren't many. Ultimately, I had hoped for more. That in itself was probably my fault. There's a great Simpsons movie out there somewhere. But unfortunately, this ain't it.