Reviewed by Brannavan Gnanalingam

The Simpsons is the greatest TV show of all-time. No question. Not a doubt about that statement. No television programme has matched it for longevity, layered humour or social commentary, and all the other comedy greats in recent times have been left scrambling in its wake. Admittedly, the show has peaked, and current seasons are pale shadows of what they once were, despite still maintaining the occasional moment of hilarity. And the movie unfortunately as a result, is simply ten years too late. That’s not to say this movie isn’t funny though – it most certainly is. But we are so used to the purposefully two-dimensional characters by now, especially since the show has rung humour out of their two-dimensionality for years – Homer does stupid things, Moe is a loser, Grandpa is senile etc. – that this big screen version suffers from over-familiarity. Ardent fans of the show will be able to point plot structures and characters to older episodes – Spider-pig replaces Mr. Pinchy, Russ Cargill is a Hank Scorpio etc. Or how many times have we seen Homer do something stupid, Marge get angry and threaten to leave, and Homer tries to make amends (essentially the plot of this movie)?

Yet The Simpsons Movie is still laugh out-loud. The opening ten minutes in particular were brilliant, reiterating that The Simpsons are king (even in the new episodes) when they perform their brilliant free-form skits that interrupt the narrative flow, the likes of which The Family Guy has taken its cue from. There were some inspired sight gags (a parody of Titanic, the skateboard scene, Spider-pig) and particularly inventive moments of Homer getting hurt (as good as The Simpsons have ever done). The satire wasn’t as apparent or as brilliant as The Simpsons at its best, though there was the occasional gem (the surveillance scene). But that may also reflect the crowd I saw the film with. Sorry to sound like an intellectual snob, but when four people laugh at the parody of An Inconvenient Truth, and then everyone else starts laughing when Lisa bangs her head, the audience itself may not have been the most open to stimulating intellectual repartee (a euphemism for the crowd was dumb). That’s not a problem with the movie however; The Simpsons have always been geniuses at satisfying a wide spectrum of audience by mixing complex high-brow moments with Homer thwacking his head. I just wish the film could have leant more towards the former, especially its second half. (I should also mention the visual lushness, the colours were beautifully mixed for the big-screen.)

» David Silverman | USA | 2007 | In Theatres Now