Maggie Simpson's (second) first and last word
rainy days this holiday, my son hooked himself up to the
Mac and revelled in season upon season of our beloved, yellow,
dysfunctional family. To tell the truth, it got to the stage
where if I heard Elfman's gleeful explosion of a theme tune
one more time I would have lowered the laptop lid and politely
asked him to get wet in the interests of paterfamilias sanity.
To my credit I have never strangled him with a hearty cry
of "Why you little..." So I approached the movie
with some trepidation. Was I Homered out, Marged too thin?
Was the state of the Bart, 18 seasons on, just too much
for me? Mainstream tends to swallow up and drown the subversive
and irreverent if it stays around long enough. Die hard
fans recognised a levelling out of the quality of the scripts
and held tightly to their early seasons box sets. How could
a movie even attempt to hit the highs of the 4th season
and justify itself as a full blown feature?
would have been worth it for a single hyphenated word: "spider-pig".
movie is an unalloyed joy and the first comedy for a long,
long time that plastered a permanent smile on my chops throughout.
When I wasn't smiling I was laughing and the laughs came
regularly enough for me to hear the final joke (Maggie's
"Sequel!") and hope it happens. Simply put, this
is widescreen Homer and the man comes through for himself,
his family and more importantly us. The plot is too much
fun for me to spoil it here but let's just say after Homer
does something reckless in the heat of his ardent passion
for free doughnuts, the US government seals up Springfield
as an environmental disaster area. Fleeing from their hometown,
our family set up shop elsewhere but must return to save
the whole town from annihilation. Yes, that ought to do
it, spoiling no gags in the process.
script went through many drafts over many years and one
imagines many skilled writers each trying to top each other.
They must have burned themselves out to a frazzle in the
process. But it was worth it. Smartly, it's a Simpsons'
Simpsons, that is to say the hundreds of other characters
get their brief movie moments but it's Homer and company's
show. Yes, the social commentary and US-critiques are all
there though not as savage in satire as it might have been.
This is a small gripe. The animation is top notch (yes,
there are a lot of computer generated backgrounds and digital
assistance but it feels correctly 2D) and it looks gorgeous
(particularly if you're lucky enough to see it in a digital
theatre on an enormous screen as I was lucky to at the Kinopolis
in Brussels). Hans Zimmer's music is suitably heroic though
rarely bombastic and the real kicker is the emotion threaded
through the comic overload. The love between Homer and Marge
(and Homer and Bart) is tested as it must be and I admit
to one or two tears shed in the softer more heartfelt moments.
But what the movie does at every turn is confound any expectations
you may have and gleefully subverts a punch line into something
funnier every-time. And boy, is it fast. The gags for their
own sake never pull the narrative up short and as the end
of the world is nigh, the wide shot of the church's congregation
all running into Mo's tavern while Mo's regulars all sprint
into the church is one of my favourite oh-so typical Simpson's
you're a hard core fan, you've seen it twice by now. But
there must be a lot of soft core fans out there too. As
of this writing, the movie has made $26 million (not that
much?) in the UK alone! But then there is Spider-Pig, doing
whatever a Spider-Pig does and as I said, his scenes are
worth the admission price alone. Oh, and there is a priceless
'D'oh!' moment! Oh, just go and see it - with an audience.
It makes all the difference.