Ten Thousand Bytes of Cinematic Critique
Like many people, I spent the early 90s watching and rewatching episodes of The Simpsons, and like many people, I've drifted away from the show as the perceived quality of the writing and stories has deteriorated. When news of the movie came out, I was not very enthused, but my mild interest outweighed my low expectations and I ended up seeing, and enjoying, the film. It still suffers from some of the syndromes that have hurt the series, but as a movie, it deliversplenty of laughs and a passable story that makes for an overall positive experience. I presume most people know of the Simpsons, but for those who don't, they are a dysfunctional family set in Springfield, USA. The father is a buffoon, and he causes problems for his family and his town, and it's up to him to learn a minor moral lesson with effects that last long enough to resolve the storylines. The part of the film that encapsulates the problem with the television show are the cameo appearances. Tom Hanks and Green Day appear as themselves, which are okay, but bordering on the "Hey, let's stick a celebrity in here just because they're a celebrity."What works better, and what has always worked better, is the celebrity playing a fictional character. Take Albert Brooks, a talented actor and comedian (that has been in some cinematic duds). He plays Russ Cargill, the EPA chief and main villain of the film. He gives a stellar performance, recalling past Simpsons characters like Scorpio and Jacques. Truth be told, there are many good voice performances, many by the same handful of people, but there are many, many characters, too. For a normal film, this would be unacceptable, but this movie was trying to fit in as many characters from the cartoon universe as possible. Sadly, this means many characters also get short-changed, such as Mr. Burns and Smithers, who were barely a blip on the screen. The story is absolutely ridiculous, even by Simpsons standards, but for something this scale, it's okay. What bothers me slightly more than EPA facism and dome prisons is the typical Homer and Marge marital trouble. I think they touch on this at least once a season, and it was worn out a long time ago. I hate to keep referencing the television show, as I try to separate the source material from the movie version. So, as a movie, The Simpsons mostly delivers. There are plenty of laughs and some good sight gags,and the level of goofiness and absurdity is kept consistent, so that it rarely reaches levels where it was out of place. Furthermore, the serious parts ofthe movie are also handled surprisingly well and meaningfully. It is woven well into the fabric of the story, and the pacing makes up for the two-dimensional character and plot development. All things considered, it's hard to kill a cartoon movie, especially one that delivers on laughs and can captivate both an adult and children's audience.
Hahaha, fantastic. Yeah, I think the reiterated "marital trouble" plotline is flat-out ridiculous by this point. But it did result in exactly one joke that I liked, with the Disney animals. Although that joke could easily have existed WITHOUT that plotline...I was impressed by the many ways in which The Simpsons movie did NOT suck. There are surprisingly good jokes and gags in there, although I haven't watched much of the TV show in years so they're potentially also old and tired by this point. But if the writers were aiming this movie at Simpsons fans who no longer watch The Simpsons (There's obviously no need to try and attract the people who are still watching the TV show religiously), then they hit the mark pretty well.
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