Doh! The Simpsons Movie fails to deliver

Bob Mackey

As a film critic, it’s hard to separate myself personally from The Simpsons; I grew up with the show and watched it from its first season to its current 18th. So in a way, watching The Simpsons finally make it to the big screen is like watching a beloved child graduate from high school.

But in this case, The Simpsons Movie is being held back in summer school and has no future.

Or, perhaps a more appropriate analogy would be: If The Simpsons is my Star Wars, then The Simpsons Movie is Episode One: The Phantom Menace. In other words, I can always go back and watch the old ones.

The movie is like a 90-minute episode of the TV show, except bigger, bolder and louder. What begins as a normal episode in the lives of the Simpsons soon turns into an epic tale in which Homer inadvertently causes what promises to be the ultimate destruction of Springfield. Forced to wear the hat of an action hero, the overweight every man journeys to save his family and his town. It’s part sitcom, part road trip and part action movie – and altogether unfunny.

This movie is not for the Simpsons fan. Those looking for a last gleam of life in the eyes of this zombie-like franchise should look elsewhere. The greater your degree of Simpsons fanaticism, the more you will hate The Simpsons Movie. It’s the culmination of all the recent seasons’ flaws that we comic book guys like to point out: lazy writing, pandering and a supreme feeling of “Eh, it’s good enough.”

And to makes things worse, The Simpsons Movie takes these flaws and adds a whole lot of dumb humor. Homer getting hurt can be funny, but not when it happens every 30 seconds over the course of an hour and a half.

Put yourself in the shoes of a Simpsons writer. You’re in control of one of the world’s cultural touchstones, full of characters and events loved by millions. How could you lose? All you need to do is play it safe, rotate in some of Springfield’s many citizens to give their stock reactions, and call it a day. And if anyone criticizes you, just play the “legacy card.” Throughout The Simpsons Movie, there’s a sense that the writers thought their jokes were so funny they never considered that the audience might not agree.

But, as I said before, this movie is not for me. And if you’re a Simpsons fan, it’s not for you, either. Sure, there are a few old references thrown in for people who keep their noses buried in Simpsons episode guides and TV newsgroups, but they were nothing but safeguards so people like me wouldn’t give up on the film and just go home.

In the end, there’s just one thing to say about The Simpsons Movie: Boo-Urns.

And if you understand what that means, then God bless you.

Contact features correspondent Bob Mackey at [email protected].

The Simpsons Movie

Starring Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Yeardly Smith, Nancy Cartwright

Directed by David Silverman

Distributed by 20th Century Fox

Rated PG For irreverent humor throughout

Stater rating: *