"Make a funny movie? Fuggedaboutit."
Many of you have already seen The Simpsons Movie. Some of you may have even liked it. I did not.
I suppose I can take a minute out of my busy day (goin’ to the pet store, the National Air and Space Museum and/or a comic shop) to explain why.
It’s become something of a pastime for GenXers to complain about how "The Simpsons" hasn’t been good for ages. Personally, I thought the show went south when the great Phil Hartman got capped by his crazy cokehead wife. On a related note, have you been following the Andy Dick/Jon Lovitz spat?
My problems with the film are numerous. It’s lowbrow, pandering and borderline obnoxious. The jokes are lazy, and the plot relegates a multitude of beloved characters to wasted cameos. It’s as if the producers think audiences are too dense to appreciate actual humor. I mean, there’s a line between "broad" and "unfunny" — a demarcation Bob Saget has no shame in traversing. But the Simpsons?
During the TV show’s heyday, it was a glorious blend of cutting satire and family comedy. All the film managed to do was remind me of some of my favorite episodes — Bart getting "adopted" by Ned Flanders; Homer and Marge on a marriage counseling retreat; Lisa cutting loose with a pack of older kids at summer camp. Sadly, none of the soul or wit of these hallmark broadcasts made it to the big screen.
Instead, we’re subjected to an overlong, virtually laugh-free yarn about an environmental crisis facing Springfield (topical!), which is, of course, caused by Homer. Is this the best they could come up with in 15-plus years of development?
The Simpsons Movie plays like a drawn-out version of any recent episode, albeit without the commercial breaks. Actually, a few ads might have distracted from the the film’s leaden pacing. The best part of the movie — a surprisingly effective sight gag featuring Bart in his birthday suit — comes early, making the rest of the film that much more of a snooze.
It’s hard to say I’m disappointed; I’d pretty much given up on the Yellow Ones years ago. What saddens me is that the attending hype (including the made-over 7-11s and the contentious Springfield contest) allows the movie to overshadow the onetime brilliance of the series. I want people to remember Matt Groening‘s creation as something more than two-bit Americana, which, for a handful of wonderful seasons, the show so effectively lampooned.
Therein lies the true tragedy of The Simpsons Movie.
What do you think?