|The Simpsons Movie (2007)
Starring: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Harry Shearer, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Tress MacNeill, Pamela Hayden
Director: David Silverman
While we thoroughly resent Fox’s tendency of late to prevent online press and radio from seeing their movies until the last possible minute – a trick the studios usually reserve for movies they know are duds – you have to give them credit for keeping virtually everything about “The Simpsons Movie” under the tightest lock and key. They knew that had they let the slightest tidbit out, the Comic Book Guys of the world wide interwebs would have spread the news faster than you can say, to quote Duff Man, “Oh yeah!” Their trailers showed you everything in the movie, but told you nothing about it. They gleefully trumpeted the MPAA’s explanation for the movie’s PG-13 rating. “For irreverent humor throughout,” Mr. Fox Trailer Guy says. But let’s not get caught up in mad fanboy love: are these the actions of a studio that is trying to hide something because they don’t want to give the good parts away, or are they hiding something because they actually have something to hide?
Did you pick the latter? Seriously? Fool. The movie’s awesome, and I can’t wait to see it again.
Truth be told, there isn’t much of a plot. Homer (voice of Dan Castellaneta) adopts a pig to save it from slaughter, with no idea how much waste a pig produces. Marge tells him to get rid of the waste, and in his haste to do something self-serving, he dumps the waste in the already toxic Lake Springfield, which starts a chain of events that leads to the Simpsons’ exile from Springfield and, provided EPA chief Russ Cargill (Albert Brooks) has his way, the elimination of Springfield from the map.
Now, back to that irreverent humor. A PG-13 rating gives the makers of “The Simpsons” carte blanche to do things they wouldn’t dream of trying to slip past the TV censors, and they take full advantage of it. Drug use? Check. Profanity? Check. Nudity? Checkmate. And amazingly, none of it feels forced or out of character for the parties concerned. Well, one moment was wildly out of character, but it was also strangely cathartic.
The current writers of the show were surely upset that “Simpsons” creators Matt Groening and James L. Brooks chose to go with the so-called “glory years” writing staff to pen the script for the movie, but it was the right call. The more recent episodes, funny though they may (occasionally) be, don’t have the heart that the early episodes possess, and no character’s arc exemplifies that better than Julie Kavner’s Marge, who delivers a performance that, animated or not, belongs on her Oscar reel. Yes, it’s that good.
Oh, but who am I kidding with all of this blabbering. If you’re a fan of “The Simpsons,” you made up your mind 18 years ago that you were seeing this movie. And the movie, while long, long overdue, was worth the wait. Now please give us a sequel, preferably sooner than 18 years from now.
The fanboys are going to gobble this set up regardless, but expect some quibbling over the dearth of extras of value. There are two audio commentaries featuring roughly ten contributors to the movie (producers, writers and voice actors), along with a handful of deleted scenes, one of which features a different design of Albert Brooks’ character. Every trailer for the movie is included as well, along with some “Tonight Show” and “American Idol” tie-ins. That’s it.