Review: “The Simpsons Movie”
These reviews are special, as they were what set me in the direction of being an aspiring film critic in the first place. See, my third year of college was a bit of a turning point for me, academically. I had spent a good portion of my time at Arizona State University as a Creative Writing major who secretly couldn’t make up his mind. When I discovered that the Department of English required their majors to take not one, but two years of foreign language, I knew I had to bail. Korean was a hard language to learn in the first year alone, and a second year would’ve likely wrecked my GPA. After a bit of exploration, I discovered the Bachelor’s of Interdisciplinary Studies degree, and chose to transition into that, with concentrations in Writing and Communication (a subject I chose based on prior electives and, mostly ,just to fulfill that second concentration, I admit).
One of the upper division classes I was encouraged to take was ENG 494 – Review Writing. The class ended up being one of, if not my absolute favorites in college, and the professor, Dr. Sarah Duerden, was definitely my favorite professor, and she gets good marks on Rate My Professor, too!
The review I post here is unedited from the paper I turned in, with appropriate modifications to the format to duplicate it on this page. The assignment was to do a film review in the style of a well known publication. For my review of The Simpsons Movie, I chose to emulate the style of one of my favorite entertainment sites, The A.V. Club, which is a fantastic source for entertainment news, reviews, and analysis written for entertainment buffs in a casual (often profane, I admit) but informative manner. I hope you enjoy!
ENG 494 – MWF 11:40
The Simpsons Movie
Director: David Silverman
Cast: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith
Reviewed by CJ Stewart
February 12th, 2008
“I can’t believe we’re paying to see something we get on TV for free!” Homer complains at a theatrical treatment of Itchy & Scratchy. “If you ask me, everybody in this theater is a giant sucker… Especially you!” he mocks the real world audience watching him. Judging by the show’s decline in quality on TV, audiences might be asking themselves the same thing about Homer’s own move to the big screen. Still, the show remains very popular with fans, signified by its nearly two continuous decades on air. With no end in sight, series creator Matt Groening apparently decided that it was finally time that the Simpsons made it to the big screen! But after all the speculation, and all the hype, and – most of all – all the hope, are fans finally going to be treated to a cromulent adaptation of these long-lasting pop culture icons? Well, the good news is that, while the show itself may be taking a dive, the film may show to us where all the talent has been placed this whole time.
The Simpsons Movie keeps its plot current, as Springfield’s pollution levels have prompted the Environmental Protection Agency’s power mad leader, Russ Cargill (Albert Brooks), to seal the city off under a thick dome. Of course, Homer is to blame, and, in typical fashion, the city ofSpringfield forms an angry mob and runs the titular family out of town, where they, of course, start anew. But when the Simpsons learn of the EPA’s dooming plans for the city, the family is torn between moral obligations and Homer’s stubbornness. Will they saveSpringfield? Will the family come together by the end? And will Homer ever learn his lesson? If you know the series, then you already know the answers: yes, of course, and… maybe. This isn’t exactly new territory, but, for once, the slightly inconsequential plot is mostly inconsequential to the quality of the movie.
Aside from a few throwaway jokes (e.g. President Schwarzenegger), The Simpsons Movie delivers on almost everything else series fans have been hoping for, thanks to the return of several pre-decline writers, quality 2D animation, and stellar voicework. The elaborate sight gags, sharp satire, and simple poop jokes shine alike throughout. Dan Castellaneta plays Homer as hilariously childlike as ever, all without devolving into the caricature he’s become on the show. Special kudos goes to Julie Kavner, however, who not only brings back Marge’s heretofore withering dignity as the voice of reason, but also manages to render a few tears in one pivotal, heartbreaking scene. It will surely remind audiences of the impact the series and its characters can have, given the right material and talent. The Simpsons Movie proves that the series’ time hasn’t necessarily come or gone, but rather that it can be just as fun, and funny, as ever. Here’s hoping that it won’t take another twenty years for the inevitable sequel!
(Rating does not not necessarily reflect the perspectives of any of the writers of the actual A.V. Club. site, though it actually did score the same in their review by Nathan Rabin, so that’s just a coincidence!)
The Viewer’s Commentary Rating: 3.5 / 5