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THE SIMPSONS MOVIE

Review by Michael Jacobson

Voices:  Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, Albert Brooks
Director:  David Silverman
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1 ES
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio:  20th Century Fox
Features:  See Review
Length:  87 Minutes
Release Date:  December 18, 2007

“This is the worst day of my life.”

“The worst day of your life SO FAR.”

Film ***

As The Simpsons Movie opens, we’re looking at a theatrical version of an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon.  In the audience, Homer (Castellaneta) ponders aloud who would go to the movies and pay to see something you can get on television for free.  Ahem.

But such is the delightfully subversive world of the Simpsons…no one is above a good dig in the ribs, even their loyal fans and (now) paying customers.  The Simpsons eclipsed The Flintstones as the longest running prime time animated series, and it seems to just keep going and going and going.

I like the show well enough, but I never make a point of watching it.  I’ve never been a huge television fan, and it takes something really extraordinary for me to actually plan carving out a slice of my precious day just to tune in.  But I’m more than familiar with the family, the characters, and the town of Springfield.  I didn’t need to bone up in order to enjoy the film.

The movie is manically energetic and almost constantly funny.  The story involves pollution, and begins with a Green Day concert in which the band gets unceremoniously dispatched for being too preachy on the environment.

And seeing Green Day finally get their comeuppance isn’t even the funniest part of the movie.  As Lake Springfield grows sicker and sicker from all the dumping, leave it to Homer to finally present it with the last straw, causing the EPA to sweep down and take some rather fascist measures against our favorite cartoon town.  Dome sweet dome indeed.

Homer created the problem; now can he solve it?  One guess, but with his enduring wife Maggie (Kavner) and kids Lisa and Bart (Smith and Cartwright) at his side, anything is possible.

Heck, forget the story and enjoy the gags.  There’s a new President of the United States who seems awfully familiar, a new pet pig, a skateboarding dare that will absolutely floor you, and even a bit of the Fox Network kidding itself. 

Like the show itself, the movie is dumb, but in a smart way.  Or smart, but in a dumb way.  Take your pick.

Video ****

Outstanding!  Fox’s anamorphic transfer captures all the color, zip and zing of good animation.  Colors and images are crisp, clear and superbly rendered throughout.

Audio ****

With both Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks, The Simpsons Movie delivers all the loud, dynamic, energetic crossovers you might expect.  There’s plenty of bang for your buck here, with strong music beds, clear dialogue, and plenty of punch in the many fast-paced sequences.

Features ***

There are two commentary tracks; one with David Silverman and the filmmakers, one with James L. Brooks, creator Matt Groening, Dan Castellaneta, Yeardley Smith and others.  There are 7 deleted scenes, a bunch of trailers, and four amusing extras including two Simpsons appearances on American Idol, Homer on The Tonight Show, and a “Let’s Go to the Lobby” bit…poor hot dog!  Plus, the menu screens are quite cool.

Summary:

You can’t say many films were 18 years in the making, but I guess The Simpsons Movie qualifies.  It’s an easy-to-digest, gut-busting, surprisingly subversive comedy that should please most who like to laugh, be they fans or not.

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