Mixing to pleasingly irreverent effect the same sort of light
social satire, dysfunctional family comedy and base physical gags that have
been part of its well-honed formula for almost 20 years, The Simpsons Movie smoothly jumps the yawning chasm from small
screen to large, delivering consistent laughs from the start-to-finish fallback position of a
wide, nearly uninterrupted smile.
The Simpsons Movie forward is Homer’s habitual indifference and
inattention, which drives Lisa and Marge up the wall and sends Bart, searching for a father figure, into the
open arms of do-gooder neighbor Ned Flanders.
There has to be a fleshed-out plot, of course, and The Simpsons Movie takes as its
launching-off point a premise of environmental destruction. With
teetering on the brink of ecological ruin thanks to its rampant pollution,
littering and illegal dumping, Homer unloads a silo full of his new pet pig’s
waste into the local lake. The effect is toxic, and draws the attention of
hard-charging Environmental Protection Agency chief Russ Cargill (voiced by
Albert Brooks), who advises President Arnold
Schwarzenegger (voiced by Harry Shearer) to seal off the entire rotten city with
a giant biodome.
With Homer scape-goated for their situation, the town turns
on the Simpson clan, who manage to accidentally escape the bubble, and briefly
set up a new family life in
Old fractures quickly give way, however, and Homer — aided by an Inuit-assisted epiphany — is forced to embark on a
personal odyssey of redemption, seeking the forgiveness of Marge and his
family, as well as the salvation of his hometown.
It’s somewhat surprising how immediately suited for long-form narrative
the characters feel, and this is without even giving much more than lip
service throwaway jokes to many of the supporting players that have
come to flesh out the citizenry of Springfield. The only surprising thing might be that the movie doesn’t feature any
satirical musical numbers, something for which the television show has
become known. For the full review, from Screen International, click here. For more random thoughts and a few good joke bits (like how a book club reading of Tuesdays with Morrie sets off a riot), check back over the next several days.