Review: The Simpsons Movie (2007)

The Simpsons Movie (2007)

Directed by: David Silverman | 87 minutes | animation, adventure, comedy | Original voice cast: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, Erin Brockovich-Ellis, Albert Brooks, Minnie Driver, Kelsey Grammer, Pamela Hayden, Tress MacNeille, Joe Mantegna, Maggie Roswell, Russi Taylor, Marcia Wallace, Karl Wiedergott | Dutch voice cast: Reinder van der Naalt, Anneke Beukman, Marjolein Algera, Niki Romijn, Cees Geel, Georgina Verbaan, Bas Muijs, Tygo Gernandt, Eric Corton, Sander Lantinga, Di-Rect (Bas, Tim, Jamie)

Finally, the popular adventures of the yellow animation family have made their way to the silver screen! ‘The Simpsons Movie’ has arrived and fans of the series can rest easy: the cynical, sometimes touching, but always wacky family has remained unchanged. The various family members have not experienced any growth, and fortunately. And the tone of their experiences has remained the same, with plenty of political satire, references to popular culture, and a truckload of visual jokes. The film form as such may add little, and the story is very straightforward, but ‘The Simpsons Movie’ can certainly be called a success. Both the loyal fan and relative newcomer will have a great time with this film.

Even though the characters have been around since 1987, when they first appeared on TV as part of the “Tracey Ullman show”, they still excite and entertain as ever. Especially in the first half of the film it is raining jokes and as a viewer you would do well not to even blink. It starts with an “Itchy and Scratchy” cartoon, which the Simpsons are watching in the cinema. The violent cat-and-mouse show from the Simpsons series here comments on Bush and American (foreign) politics in general, when Mouse Itchy conquers the moon (at Scratchy’s expense) and is hailed as a hero at home, becomes president and Hillary Clinton as Vice President. While watching this clip, Homer exclaims that he is actually crazy to put down money for something he can watch on TV at home for free. And he explicitly addresses the viewer in the cinema. There’s something in it: this movie is in fact little more than a long Simpsons episode, but admittedly, a very nice one.

The Simpsons have been visually polished up a bit, the environments have been animated a bit richer, and some computer animation has been added here and there, but the biggest reason you should watch the film is of course the humor. An anthology: a Green Day performance for the environment literally falls into the water when the Springfield population throws cans and rubbish at the band (playing on the lake) en masse; Bart goes skateboarding naked through the city because of a truth-or-dare game with Homer; Arnold Schwarzenegger is president of America and is conducted by a Cheney-esque figure. The motto of “Ah-nuld”: “I was elected to lead, not to read”. Homer adopts a piglet, names it “Spider-pig”, and dumps a silo full of its dung into Lake Springfield, causing an environmental disaster; When mass surveillance of citizens across the nation finally pays off, an official cries out, “The government has actually found someone they were looking for!”. The various jokes, which often take place in the margins or background, make the film what it is. The larger, central story has very little to say. Not only could the citizens have escaped from their predicament (a glass dome set over their entire city) quite easily, the outcome of this plot point – the Simpsons leaving Springfield – isn’t very compelling. Of course, a kind of dramatic development still needs to be added for a film, and the emotion that comes with this does add an extra dimension, but the pace and (comic) power of the film are somewhat compromised, so that the film as a whole slackened. But only a sourpuss lets this amusing film ruin it. The Simpsons are still very much alive after 20 years. Also on the white screen. Above all, don’t listen to Homer: watching this movie in theaters is definitely not a waste of money.

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