July 29, 2007

The Simpsons Movie (07/29/07)

Lettergrade: B

I was about 10 when The Simpsons debuted as a half-hour series on Fox. Like a lot of my friends, I grew up watching it pretty regularly: It became a cultural load bearing pillar of my teens, and was still quoted quite heavily among my friend group on into my 20s. Also like a lot of my friends, however, I hadn't really checked in with the show much for several years now. There's no particular reason for this... I guess if I'm going to spend 30 minutes watching a cartoon, I simply prefer edgier fare like Family Guy or South Park over something so familiar at this point.

I mention all this, dear reader, to emphasize the point that although I was certainly curious about what a Simpsons movie might be like, my enthusiasm going in was modest at best. It so happens, however, that the movie is actually pretty solid, entertaining, and worth the time and effort to see.

Nothing about The Simpsons Movie reinvents the wheel, relative to what the show does, but then again it is pretty clear that it was never the intention to do so. The picture was written by writers of the series, and directed by one of its frequent directors. The notable exceptions are that executive producer James L. Brooks and Simpsons creator Matt Groening have stepped up and apparently taken a much more hands-on approach than they have in the last several years with the show.

I don't really want to get into the details of the plot, but suffice to say that it feels like a somewhat amped up version of a storyline they might do on the show. We should make a distiction here, however: the movie feels like an expanded episode of the show, but not a bloated one. The jokes are well-placed, consistent, and occasionally surprisingly funny. I never had the feeling that they were just padding sections out to fill the time.

"Movie" versions of popular shows can sometimes be risky propositions. South Park was able to expand itself brilliantly for the big screen, but others franchises that come to mind such as many of the Saturday Night Live movies, Beavis And Butthead Do America, and 3 of the 4 pictures featuring the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast all fell somewhere between "underwhelming" and "painful" by my standards.

The people who made The Simpsons Movie, however, are keenly of what the fans were hoping to see, and skillfully play it out over the film's 90 minute running time. It's not a movie that will change your life, but after so many years of expectation, it could have been worse, and it's hard to imagine it being much more solid.

No comments:

Post a Comment