Saturday, August 18, 2007
Episode 53 - The Simpsons Movie
The Simpsons Movie - Everyone knows who the Simpsons are (and if you don't, you should be worried), so let's get right down to business. Lisa (as voiced by Yeardley Smith), as she tends to do quite often, goes on a crusade. This time, along with an Irish boy who just moved to Springfield named Colin (Tress MacNeille), the cause she is behind is that of cleaning up the town's horribly polluted lake. Meanwhile, Homer (Dan Castellaneta) has procured himself a new pet after saving a pig from being slaughtered at the local Krusty Burger. Much to Marge's (Julie Kavner) dismay, Homer insists on keeping the pig in the house and has been collecting it's droppings in a poorly crafted silo which resides in their back yard. When the silo is full and Marge orders Homer to dispose of his mess, he is about to deliver it to a waste disposal plant, which would be the correct thing to do. However, when he gets a call from Lenny (Harry Shearer), who tells him that free donuts are being given away, he rushes down to the newly-sanitized lake to quickly rid himself of the silo of pig feces in order to make it into town in time for some free donuts. Later on, having taken a liking to hanging around with Ned Flanders (Harry Shearer) instead of his own neglectful father, Bart (Nancy Cartwright) is hiking with his neighbor when they stumble upon a squirrel that has been mutated by the pollutants unleashed upon the lake by Homer. When the Environmental Protection Agency finds out about the lake they deem Springfield the most polluted town in America and decide that the best course of action is to seal the entire town inside a massive glass dome. The residents of Springfield aren't happy with this turn of events and are in the process of taking out their frustrations on Homer, who they've learned is the cause of the whole fiasco, when the Simpsons make a daring escape. By leaping into a sinkhole in their yard they are freed from the dome, but everyone else is still trapped inside. With a country-wide search going on for the Simpsons, they flee to Alaska to live a new life, but when their collective guilt begins to build up over leaving their friends and neighbors to suffer inside a dome that exists because of them, they decide to go back and try to save the day. All of them except for Homer, that is, whose selfish nature pushes his family away and leaves him alone in Alaska to ponder where everything went wrong. Will Marge and the kids be able to free Springfield from the dome? Will Homer come to his senses and admit his guilt? Will the town survive when the decision is made by evil EPA member Russ Cargill (Albert Brooks) to blow it up? The Simpsons Movie manages to be pretty similar to most of the episodes of the show inasmuch as it is pretty funny, but not that great. I used to love the show, but I honestly feel that it has dropped in quality quite a bit over the years. I can still go back and watch episodes from the first nine or ten seasons and laugh my ass off, but the newer ones are more "hit and miss". In the case of the movie, I can't say that it's either a hit or a miss. Perhaps my biggest problem with the movie is that I didn't particularly like the plot. There are stories from several episodes of the show that I think would have made for a better feature length movie. Also, it just felt as though it had been done before. The basic premise is fairly similar to the episode of the show in which Mr. Burns uses a large device to block out the light from the sun. Speaking of which, this is a bit picky on my part, but I really felt that Mr. Burns should have been the villain in this movie instead of some new character that honestly isn't even very well fleshed out in the film. But anyway, exchange the sun blocker for a giant dome and you essentially have the same situation. Also, the subplots all felt re-hashed. Homer does something stupid, which ends up being cataclysmic (such as in the episode where he gains weight to go on disability and almost blows up the town). Marge questions her relationship with Homer (much like the episodes in which Homer almost cheats on her with a co-worker and a country music star). Lisa has boy troubles (much like the episode in which she dates Nelson [Nancy Cartwright]). Bart builds a relationship with Flanders (much like the episode where he and Lisa are forced into his care by the government). The fact that so many different aspects of The Simpsons Movie felt as though they were recycled from previous story lines can obviously be blamed on the fact that there have been so many episodes of The Simpsons. This only leads me to ask, "If there wasn't a new, unique, worthwhile story to tell here, why did they even bother making a movie?" The answer is of course that these characters guarantee a certain monetary gain for the filmmakers. Sadly, this doesn't make for a particularly great movie-going experience. Now, before I start to sound like I hated The Simpsons Movie, let me say that I did find parts of it humorous. One or two of the best laughs are revealed in the trailers, but there are many more instances in the film that had me chuckling or even full-on laughing out loud. Then again, there were also various points at which I was wondering if things were funny to anyone, or if they were even supposed to be funny at all (such as with the breast jokes involving the old eskimo woman). Not that I'm a fervent watcher of the show these days, but I'll be interested to see if some of the continuity from the movie holds up in the coming seasons. For example, I'm wondering if Colin will become a recurring character, and I'll be interested to see if the character(s) who meet his/her/their demise in the movie will indeed stay dead in the show. As far as differences between the television version and the movie, there are a few that I was honestly surprised by. Anyone could have guessed that in the film version of South Park there would be more cursing and vulgarity than usual, but I hadn't expected the same from The Simpsons. There isn't much, but prepare yourself for displays of "the finger", use of the phrase "god damn", and a completely unexpected shot of full fontal nudity...of a minor (albeit an animated one). Everything taken into account, The Simpsons Movie is certainly worth seeing, but in the wake of so many seasons of the show that are filled with quality episodes, it really doesn't stand up to what came before.