The Simpsons Movie

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Rating: PG-13

Starring:
Dan Castellaneta as Homer / Itchy / Barney / Grampa / Stage Manager / Krusty the Clown (voice)
Julie Kavner as Marge (voice)
Nancy Cartwright as Bart / Maggie / Ralph / Nelson / Todd Flanders (voice)
Yeardley Smith as Lisa (voice)
Harry Shearer as Scratchy / Mr. Burns / Rev. Lovejoy / Ned Flanders / Lenny (voice)
Hank Azaria as Professor Frink / Comic Book Guy / Moe / Chief Wiggum / Lou / Carl (voice)
Marcia Wallace as Mrs. Krabappel (voice)
Billie Joe Armstrong as Himself (voice)
Tre Cool as Himself (Green Day) (voice) (as Frank Edwin Wright III)
Mike Dirnt as Himself (voice) (as Michael Pritchard)
Tress MacNeille as Sweet Old Lady / Colin / Mrs. Skinner / Nelson’s Mother / Pig (voice)
Pamela Hayden as Milhouse / Rod Flanders (voice)
Joe Mantegna as Fat Tony (voice)
Albert Brooks as Russ Cargill (voice) (as A. Brooks)
Russi Taylor as Martin (voice)

Special Features:
Commentary
Directors Commentary
Deleted Scenes and Slightly Alternate Ending
Special Stuff
A Lot of Trailers

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.40:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
DTS ES 5.1 Sound
French and Spanish Language
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 87 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is from the DVD cover:

“Homer accidentally causes an environmental catastrophe which could doom Springfield forever. Homer now must save the city and rescue his family. Springfield’s usual characters and new favorites all turn up in the first ever movie length version of the hit TV show, 18 years in the making.”

“The Simpsons Movie” is rated PG-13 for irreverent humor throughout.

The Movie:
Disappointingly, if not surprisingly, “The Simpsons Movie” doesn’t amount to more than a 90 minute long episode of “The Simpsons” show.

That isn’t entirely a bad thing. For almost 20 years, “The Simpsons” and its colorful cast of characters have been hallmarks of Americana, producing some of the sharpest satire on television and ensuring themselves (and the myriad real people who bring them to life) a place in the television hall of fame. But even Muhammad Ali had to hang it up eventually, and despite peaking for far longer than most shows ever dream of, “The Simpsons” has been in a long, slow decline – carried by inertia a much as anything else – and that same malaise affects “The Simpsons Movie” as well.

Which isn’t to say it’s bad, the writer’s are just too good at what they do for that, but it rarely rises above chuckle worthy, though chuckles do come fast and furious, especially in the first half. The Simpsons’ beloved home of Springfield, it turns out, is the most polluted place in America and President Schwarzenegger has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to do something. Of course, everyone knows that when the E.P.A. involved it’s just a hop, skip and a jump before your town is encased inside a giant plastic dome, and that’s just what happens here.

Anyone even remotely associated with “The Simpsons” knows that their plots aren’t much more than excuses to hang a vast array of throwaway gags off of, and the movie is no different. However, unlike the show, which like most television has to resort to unconnected subplots to give the entire family something to do, everything in the movie works as a connected whole. Every gag builds on the gag before it and even off sight gags quickly become relevant.

Despite the promising start, though, “The Simpsons Movie” slows down considerably in its second half as the titular family escapes the dome for the wintry paradise of Alaska. The problem is that, apart from Homer (Dan Castellaneta), the Simpsons themselves aren’t inherently funny, and even Homer can only do so much by himself. The show’s real humor has always come from their interactions with the town’s other inhabitants, and when they’re left behind the film becomes noticeably less engaging. What few moments they do get can’t help but feel perfunctorily.

The voice cast does its usual stellar work, with an able helping hand from Albert Brooks as the megalomaniacal head of the E.P.A. A film-sized budget and running time has allowed the filmmakers a great deal of freedom than is possible on the show, and they embrace it heartily, as well as the PG-13 rating, sneaking in some more risqué humor that it feels like they’ve been waiting years to do. If only it were a little funnier.

The Extras:
This DVD has a rather light offering of bonus features considering what a big following the TV series has. This time around you get two commentaries – one from the director and crew and one from Matt Groening, Dan Castellaneta, and other cast and crew. You’ll also find six deleted scenes. Most of them are quite brief, with the Alternate Ending being the most minor of the lot. One features Homer raiding a sausage truck, another shows the town ransacking the DMV, while another shows more of Emperor Moe.

In “Special Stuff,” you’ll find a short bit where Homer Simpson delivers a monologue on “The Tonight Show” (featuring Jay Leno’s voice). In another promo the Simpsons act as judges on “American Idol”… with Simon Cowell singing. We also get to see Homer introduce “American Idol.” Finally, there’s a parody of the old “Let’s All Go to the Lobby” trailers before movies.

The Bottom Line:
Not a bad or even mediocre movie by any stretch of the imagination, “The Simpsons Movie” doesn’t ever reach its real potential, but there’s enough good material at the start to mostly make up for a draggy second half. Still, if you like the Simpsons on television, you’ll like them on the big screen just as well.

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