A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

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 | , ,

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