A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 64 – The Simpsons Movie

The Simpsons Movie – May 3rd, 2010

Another new view for me. I’m trying to watch more new stuff than old stuff since I tallied up what I’ve seen versus what I haven’t seen and came up with about 45% for the latter. That’s a lot of movies I haven’t seen. So! New viewings. This movie was one I meant to watch several times, then was never quite in the mood for. And then Andy watched it without me one day and I got a little bitter. Sure, it was sort of my own fault, but I was bitter anyhow and just sort of let it get buried in the stacks. No one was telling me it was really good and I’d regret not watching it. If anything, it was getting sort of meh reviews. So yeah. I let it go.

I won’t jump up and down and rave about it and let loose with the wailing and gnashing of teeth for letting myself put off watching it. I mean, it was fun and all, but it wasn’t a masterpiece for the ages. It was very much an elongated Simpsons episode with bonus 3D animation and a larger-than-usual character cast. And that’s not a bad thing! I mean, I love The Simpsons. Not every episode is a home run, but they’ve all got their moments. And the movie had plenty of moments: Lisa shouting “SACAGAWEA!” after Bart’s “GERONIMO!”. Lisa slugging Bart for trying to ruin her perfect moment. The bizarre cabin sex scene. Spider pig. Maggie… No, just every Maggie bit. I love Maggie. Gal’s gonna be an American Emma Peel when she grows up. And those moments and scenes and lines? Lots of fun. But then there were other moments where it was sort of like the movie was screaming “LOOK! I’M A MOVIE! A SIMPSONS MOVIE! LOOK AT MARTIN! LOOK AT MR. BURNS! HAHA! MOOOOOOOOVIE!” Thanks. I get it. It’s The Simpsons on the big screen. It’s cool. Sit down, take a breather. Now continue.

See, there’s a lot I like about the movie. I like all the moments I alluded to above. I like that we get to see pretty much the whole town. I like that the situation is over the top by a lot. That happens to Springfield. Polluted lake? Not shocking. Homer and the pig crap? Yeah, not shocking either. The US government getting involved and sealing away the entire town? Yeah, you know what? I can totally handle that in the context of the show. I like that it does what all my favorite episodes do – It starts on one plot and then veers off in another direction to a connected but different plot, and then off on a tangent. I even like some of the fan service. On the other hand, the fan service was over the top too, and a little fan service (helloooooo Willie-in-his-kilt-and-no-shirt-wait-what?-no-grease?) goes a long way. And I think that’s what makes the movie not necessarily something to rave about. It’s a few too many references and cameos and long-overdue-moments for a movie that’s just under an hour and a half.

But it still made me laugh. So that’s a win. And now I’m going to watch old episodes until it’s time to go to bed.

May 3, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , | Leave a comment

The Simpsons Movie

May 3, 2010

The Simpsons Movie

This movie is growing on me. The first time I watched it I was pretty underwhelmed. This time I guess I was just whelmed. I laughed more the second time around and I guess I enjoyed the movie more, but it still felt like it lacked something. Near the beginning there’s a cool trick when they spread out from 4:3 to a cinematic widescreen right at the beginning of the opening credits, but it takes more than a cinematic feel and slick animation to make a TV show into a full movie.

I’ll not deny that a lot of effort went into making this movie. It’s sprinkled with little touches to appeal to fans of the show (like the ambulance at the top of Springfield Gorge from Bart the Daredevil, or casting Albert Brooks as the bad guy since he’s done so many fantastic characters in the past.) And as they point out in the commentary track every crowd scene is packed with so many little minor characters from the many years of the show that you’d have to freeze frame it to see them all. (Apparently they had seating charts for the church scene to maintain continuity between shots.) Even so the whole production rings hollow to me.

I have a lot of trouble explaining why though. It’s a lot of little things I suppose. I don’t really understand why the pig is in the movie for example, it’s only a plot device and it disappears once it has served its purpose… it doesn’t bring anything to the movie. The same for the “boob lady” – why not use Homer’s long lost fugitive mother to serve that purpose? I suppose that as a fan of the show who watched every episode in the first seven or so seasons over and over again I had a lot of expectations that just couldn’t be met.

The best Simpsons episodes have a couple things in common. They have an emotional core that can at times move me to tears (I’m thinking of things like Summer of 4’2″ here.) And they have this strange flow which can run from scene to scene on a wandering path that sometimes defies expectation. For example the episode with the chili cook-off is the same episode with Homer’s dream odyssey and the touching scene of reconciliation with marge capped off by a dance number about hot pants. I can see some of the same things here in this movie – there’s a clear effort to build to that emotional moment with Homer and Marge, but somehow it never quite works. At least for me.

The whole B-plot with Bart wanting a father who’s more like Flanders especially seems tacked on (though I love the how-long-can-they-sustain-it gag with the cup of hot chocolate.) And then there’s Lisa’s love interest who serves no purpose whatsoever… very odd. In the end it feels like with the full movie format to fill the writers couldn’t quite figure out how to make it work as a cohesive whole. It gives the impression of being something written by committee over the course of about ten years… which is pretty much exactly what it is.

It does have some great gags, some great crowds and some cool special effects, but it doesn’t quite work for me. Much as I love the Simpsons I think I’ll stick to re-watching the show, back before it got worn out and tired. I think I’ll put in Season Seven right now.

May 3, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment