The Simpsons Movie
Daniel Smith 30/07/2007
It's no secret that despite its status as the 'greatest cartoon of all time', the Simpsons has been dying a slow, painful death for years now. Desperate attempts to change its once winning formula by forcing alternative comedy into the script (in response to the success of Seth McFarlane's Family Guy, some might claim) have for all intents and purposes, failed spectacularly. It's gotten to the point now were fans are just praying for Groening to let the show die and retain a little dignity. The Simpsons Movie is the culmination of ten years of meticulous planning, and has the unenviable task of re-endearing the world to Bart, Lisa, Homer, Marge and Maggie. Not only does it succeed in this, it also ranks amongst the most successful TV to film conversions ever.
When Springfield's pollution problem gets out of control, the EPA (a fictional take on FEMA) covers the town in a giant glass bubble thereby isolating it from the rest of the world. Finding out the whole thing is Homer's fault, the towns folk turn on the Simpsons family and they are forced to escape to Alaska via a sinkhole to the outside world hidden Maggie's sandbox. I won't spoil any more of the plot in regards to how it plays out, but maximum kudos to Fox. They have managed to create an interesting and topical plot that can sustain itself for the whole running time, thereby preventing the film from playing out like one long episode.
The other key triumph here, is in the skill of the comic delivery, they have finally struck an effective balance between the said alternative comedy and clever, old fashioned wit. The density of gags is huge - we're talking a hotshots!-esque script that is jam packed with material. Indeed, almost every line by any character throughout the course of the film is quickly followed by a punchline of some sort. This all helps keep the audience on their toes, but of course it would mean nothing if none of it was funny. Short answer - it is. In fact, the humour is several thousand cuts above that found on the show as of late simply because the writers have finally plucked up the courage disregard political correctness and 'go there'. Proceedings never reach South Park levels of offence, but there's some very funny racially, sexually and politically motivated humour of the kind that the TV incarnation has traditionally stayed clear of in order to preserve both its status as a family show, and it's early evening time slot. Such gags are expertly crafted and give the impression that the writers are relishing their newfound freedom.
It's not the perfect animated movie - the characters are still sometimes used as 'blank slate' humour devices rather than as the endearing, three dimensional characters of the first few seasons and sometimes the celebrity cameos seem to be there for the sake of it, but laugh for laugh this is a spectacular return to form. Indeed, the Simpsons movie is almost a nostalgic experience; briefly taking you back to the mid 90's when the show was at the top of its game. We can only hope that the success here will be the start of changes for the better within the TV shows' dynamic. You'll find yourselves falling in love with the characters all over again and almost willing to forgive the indiscretions of the past five years.
Watch the trailer here