The Simpsons Movie
At the beginning of The Simpsons Movie, the world’s most famous yellow family are at the local theatre watching the latest exploits of cat and mouse duo Itchy and Scratchy. Homer, unable to understand why anyone would pay to see on the big screen what they can get for free on TV, chastises the audience for being suckers. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that this is a reference to those viewers and critics who will say exactly the same thing about The Simpsons Movie - the message being, presumably, that the film does offer more than an extended episode of the TV series. Unfortunately, that’s really all it is, and, depending on how you feel about the series, this is either a good or a bad thing. Personally, I would have been more than happy if it had captured the tone of the early seasons, back when the show was still good. Unfortunately, despite being in the making for four years and featuring the combined talents of many of the writers responsible for the best episodes of the early seasons, The Simpsons Movie definitely feels more like the tired, unimaginative dreck that Fox has been shovelling out for the past few years.
Its biggest problem, and a pretty major one for what is meant to be a comedy, is that it isn’t funny. In 85 minutes I laughed out loud twice, and one of these was at a joke that has already been used at least three times in the show. Seriously, it took eleven writers and 158 drafts to come up with this? (Then again, maybe that’s the problem: too many cooks continually refining it until the whole thing has been completely watered down.) Instead, all we get is the Simpsons shoehorned into a generic adventure story with a hefty dose of fake pathos injected in an attempt to give some semblance of sincerity.
Even the animation is more or less the same as the TV show. Despite a supposed budget of $65 million, it still has that lame, farmed out to Korea appearance (and yes, it seems that the bulk of the animation was indeed outsourced, to regular Simpsons sausage factory Akom), with only a handful of scenes showing anything more than the bare essentials. Yes, the colour palette is richer, and some soft shadows have been applied to the characters, but it still looks third-rate. The celebrity cameos, meanwhile, while taking up comparatively less screen time than they tend to on the show itself, are still incredibly annoying in the “Hi, I’m…” vein. One can only assume that it was them, and the regular cast, rather than the animation crew, that received the bulk of the aforementioned $65 million.
I can’t say that my expectations were all that high, and yet I was still incredibly disappointed by this. I never for a minute kidded myself that I was going to see a masterpiece, but I had at least expected to be entertained and get a few decent laughs out of it. Sadly, it couldn’t even manage that. 4/10.