Whilst reading this please contemplate the following..."There's nary an animal alive that can outrun a greased Scotsman". So there I am comfortably sitting in my cinema room about to hit play on the movie event of the year. I'm sitting in my Homer Christmas socks, my Homer 'Perfect Man' t-shirt, my D'OH Homer 3-D slippers and my Homer... well let's not go there! It's been 18 years in the minds of creators and fans alike, now finally we can all own a little piece of the big screen version of this iconic American television series. It's always been difficult transferring television to the big screen and not many have achieved success going down this route, so how does Homer and his family fare?
Homer's at it again, forever childlike finishing the required chores in the only way he can, challenging Bart to skateboard naked into town. At the same time, Lisa's trying to raise awareness of the increasing pollution and environmental effects of the town lake. In the main she doesn't succeed but does fall head over heels for an Irish boy, who just happens not to be Bono's son. Marge, as always is just Marge; keeping the family and house together. The other one joyfully plays in the sandpit on the back lawn.
It's not too long though before Homer, in a scene reminiscent of adopting Santa's Little Helper, takes pity on a Krusty destined doomed pig and takes him back to the family home; here both Spider Pig and Harry Plopper are born. Plopper though is an all consuming beast and what goes in must come out, so eventually Homer's home made silo fills up and needs emptying. Distracted by a doughnut sale he simply dumps the entire silo into the already over polluted town lake. Disaster strikes, the environment can take no more and rebels, producing animals of unbelievable creation. Due to this impact it is decided at the highest level to quarantine Springfield, to encase it within a huge glass dome. The town, now trapped, organise their standard fire burning mob to hunt Homer and family's head. Fortunately slap dash Homer hasn't fixed the back garden sink hole and this provides them with an escape plan. Now on the run they camp out in Alaska whilst Springfield descends into chaos, man against man as the struggle to survive begins.
I can't think of many people who haven't come across the television series, nor can I think of anyone who doesn't have some respect for the series as a whole. I think this has something to do with the characters involved. Of course the main ones are the Simpson family themselves, however the town contains a wealth of inhabitants, and there's always someone in there that you can either relate to or a character that reminds you of someone else. Contrary to the right wing press at the initial import of The Simpsons, this program is not anarchic enough to bring down society (but then what is?) but the dysfunctional family which is the Simpsons are actually a very moral bunch of people. Ok so Homer might be lazy and a few hairs short of a toupee but ultimately he's a loving, caring father and husband.
This all comes across in the upgraded version of the television series, really though there's simply not enough time on screen to show all of your favourite characters. From my own point of view I was glad that Cat Lady managed to make a brief appearance (albeit not throwing cats), but some of the other less starring characters don't get any screen time at all. A brief comment by Apu whilst discussing power requirements during an all too short interlude with Mr Burns are the only times we see them, and that's a bit of a waste of two really great characters in my opinion. Other sundry characters such as grounds keeper Willie, Principal Skinner, Barney and even Patsy and Selma don't really get a look in. Of course everyone has their own favourite characters and for some people you will miss out because they just aren't in there that much; but then the film would be hours long had the producers decided they had to fit everyone in.
Prior to the feature the rating is shown as PG-13, and rated as such for "irreverent humour throughout" and not only have the censors really missed the point but Matt Groening must have been having a sly smile at that one. In the 18 years the series have offered up some of the best humour in recent times, targeted at adults and children alike everyone can take something away from this iconic pop creation. In the end the movie release was a huge success, far more than anyone could have possibly thought and naturally The Simpsons over the years has fertilised a massive audience and as many of us have grown up with, or at least participated in, their animated lifestyles for 18 years it was only natural that a large majority would pay their hard earned cash to see something they usually get for free. It's exactly what Homer himself says at the start of the feature, who's really the sucker here?
The movie itself is no more really than an extended episode, it doesn't have the grandeur of that big screen appeal and the jokes, which in the 22 minute television show are almost machine gunned rapidly onto the screen, here come at a more leisurely pace; don't be expecting roll in the aisle stuff every couple of seconds, instead you'll be presented by a flowing never really in your face piece of work. This lets the whole film down a touch really because The Simpsons have always poked fun at those people or institutions which deserve it the most; here though it's really only the EPA who come in for this sort of treatment (and perhaps Disney with some animated scenes). Of all the organisations or people out there though I'm not too sure that this was the best way to target their efforts.
The characters that are offered screen time all remain true to their core; Lisa yet again tries the environmental approach whilst trying to win the heart of yet another suitor; Bart, feral like whilst taking coco from Flanders, produces the same quips and attitude. In one scene I must admit he had my ribs straining as he shows a drawing of his new best friend Flanders to Homer who he's annoyed with. Homer still manages to get himself, and everyone around him, into as much trouble as possible, Moe is consistent in so far that he's always at the head of the mob and always willing to join in any riot, Mr Burns releases the dogs and Chief Wigum can't see the criminal underworld for what it truly is.
I don't think it would be unfair to say that we've seen it all before, obviously over the last 18 years it would be difficult not to have done. And equally we've seen it done much better on the television shows where a small 22 minute segment can dedicate itself to one theme or one character. This feature is not bad as such, it hits all the right notes and the chuckles are there to be found and enjoyed but it doesn't, or perhaps can't, live up to such legendary episodes as "The Stonecutters", "Rose Bud", "Cape Feare", "Flaming Moes", "Who Shot Mr Burns?", "You Only Move Twice", "22 Short Films about Springfield" or the many "Treehouse of Terror" episodes. It was good to finally see them on the big screen but in the end I think the crew's talents really lie in TV. And so on that note, it's time to get greased up!
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