The Simpsons Movie (PG)



Comedy (2007)
87mins US

Starring: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith
Director: David Silverman
Writer(s): James L Brooks, Matt Groening, Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, George Meyer, David Mirkin, Mike Reiss, Mike Scully, Matt Selman, John Swartzwelder, Jon Vitti
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Springfield's favourite family - Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie - make their big screen debut in this eagerly awaited feature film. When Homer inadvertently stokes the environmental threat to mankind, the overweight doughnut-guzzling father and his clan must risk everything, even Bart's shorts, to save the day.

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LondonNet Film Review
The Simpsons Movie

Eleven credited screenwriters plus four consultants including some of American comedy's rapier wits, over two years of rewrites and polishes to more than 100 script drafts, and it comes to this: mediocrity...

The Simpsons TM and Copyright 2007 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. The Simpsons Movie crams a dozen or so 24 carat gags into 87 minutes of limp social and political satire, choosing soft targets like disintegrating American family values, the environment and miscommunication between parents and their alienated kids. If you've seen the four trailers for David Silverman's film then you've seen all of the best moments; everything else is just padding to justify the awkward transition of Springfield's most dysfunctional family to widescreen, complete with little Ralph Wiggum (voiced by Nancy Cartwright) emerging from within the 20th Century Fox logo to sing shrilly along with the iconic opening fanfare.

Rotund, doughnut-guzzling father Homer (Dan Castellaneta) is the weak dramatic fulcrum, ignoring the needs of his dutiful wife Marge (Julie Kavner), son Bart (Cartwright), and daughters Lisa (Yeardley Smith) and Maggie to pursue his trouble-free course through life, which invariably involves resting his considerable girth on the settee and eating.

A visit to church for the entire clan ends in chaos when Grampa (Castellaneta) receives a vision from God of impending doom. "Horrible, horrible things are going to happen," he raves. "People of Springfield, heed this warning: twisted tail, a thousand eyes, trapped forever. Ee pa!" A visit to the local pancake house seems to soothe everyone's nerves. Soon after, Homer adopts a pet pig, which generates an unsightly amount of manure. So the lazy patriarch fills a makeshift silo in the backyard with the stinking mess and when the store begins he overflow, he dumps the putrid matter in Lake Springfield, transforming the beauty spot into toxic hell, creating a hideous mutation of one poor squirrel which leaps into the bubbling black water.

The Simpsons TM and Copyright 2007 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Russ Cargill (Albert Brooks), head of the Environmental Protection Agency encourages the President Schwarzenegger (Harry Shearer) to quarantine the entire town, and Homer's friends and neighbours all turn on him and his family. "You single-handedly killed this town!" screams Marge. "I'm so angry," agrees Lisa, incandescent at her father's stupidity and selfishness. "You're a woman, you can hold it in," Marge advises her tenderly. Thankfully, Ned Flanders (Shearer) helps the Simpsons to escape from the baying masses and Homer reveals his masterplan to his loved ones: "Alaska - a place where you can't be too fat or too drunk." However, the d'oh-zy father cannot escape the consequences of his reckless actions and he must change the habits of a lifetime to save Springfield and heal the wounds of his splintered family.

The Simpsons Movie screams out, unheard, for imagination and invention. Each of the family members has their own flimsy dramatic arc. Homer and Marge put their marriage under the microscope, Bart debates whether his father loves him, Maggie utters her first word (during the end credits) and eco-friendly Lisa develops a crush on Irish boy Colin (Tress MacNeille), whose father is "definitely not Bono". "I didn't tell you the best thing," Lisa tells her mother as she coos dreamily about Colin, a fellow campaigner for green issues, "he's not imaginary!" Half-hearted sideswipes at Al Gore (Lisa presents a lecture entitled An Irritating Truth), Alaska ("We pay every resident $1000 to allow the oil companies to ravage our natural resources," a border patrol guard tells the Simpsons) and Disney (Bart wears a black bra to look like mouse ears and chuckles "I'm the mascot of an evil corporation!") fail to draw blood.

Danny Elfman's theme tune is given a rockier edge by Green Day, who perish early on in an obvious parody of Titanic, while the end credits unveils "Springfield Anthem", a shameless rip-off of La Marseillaise including the new lyrics, "Here's a song we stole from the French. There's a few things they do well, like making love, wine and cheese." A couple of sequences take full advantage of the medium - Bart skateboarding naked through town and briefly flashing his "doodle", and the march of the torch-wielding lynch mob - but on the whole, there is little here that couldn't be accomplished just as well on the small screen. To echo the sentiments of Homer in the Itchy and Scratchy themed prologue: "I can't believe we're paying for something you can get for free on television at home."

- Jo Planter


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