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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

The Simpsons Movie

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The Simpsons Movie

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Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
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From the opening scenes of Itchy and Scratchy lunar violence, The Simpsons Movie hits the ground running and doesn’t stop for any of its 88 minute running time. It chides the audience for paying for something they could have gotten free at home. It targets the pompous, the political, and the pretentious. The humor is slapstick, broad, wicked and subversive. Welcome to Springfield, Anystate, home of our favorite dysfunctional family.

In this extended peek into the Simpson family dynamics, Homer is meaner to Bart, Lisa finds love, Marge uses profanity, and a pig figures prominently in the family dynamics, starting all of the environmental problems. A power-mad government official would like to erase the inconvenient situation by obliterating Springfield. Lisa is the “green” Simpson, worried about the polluted lake that supplies Springfield’s water. No one in town wants to hear it. Enter Colin, a Bono-like child of similar conscience. Maggie has found her soul-mate.

Meanwhile Homer adopts a pet pig that he treats as a family member overflowing a silo with its waste (yes, that kind). Homer drives the silo into the lake, poisoning it permanently. A large dome is placed over the entire town. The Simpsons become hated and escape to Alaska via a quirk in the lawn. There’s even an Eski MOE’S bar for Homer. Here you’ll see how wildlife reacts to human mating rituals. (well, human cartoon mating rituals, anyway). Marge, ever the homebody, knits a Dome sweet Dome needlepoint until the family escapes Springfield. In Alaska, it’s Nome Sweet Nome, until she gets fed up and takes the kids back to Springfield, which is in imminent danger of being blown to bits in a government-sanctioned cover-up.

That’s it in the way of a plot. The real fun starts right at the beginning, with rapid fire comments, actions, quips and sight gags. Every character you know from the series makes an appearance and some have enlightening observations that hardcore Simpsons fans will appreciate. Ned Flanders explains that Ohio, Nevada, Maine and Kentucky border Springfield. Homer has an epiphany with a large-breasted medicine woman (first she has to explain to him what an epiphany is). A church and a bar swap patrons when everyone thinks that doomsday is imminent.

Edgier, smart ass dialogue and impeccable timing help this quadruple Simpsons episode, highlighting the absurd, the quirky and the inane but universal human traits these characters embody. The jokes are fast and furious, so much so that you might miss some by laughing at others. Comic timing and screen action are superbly intertwined to make you frequently laugh out loud.

The band Green Day makes an early appearance (and rapid, polluted disappearance). Tom Hanks preaches knowingly from the Grand Canyon. Albert Brooks also lends his vocal talents to a prominent character. The multi-talented Hank Azaria supplies voices for at least eight characters. No less than 11 writers from the show were transplanted for the screenplay.

Dan Castellaneta has imbued his Homer with the synapses of a dog, always eager, hungry, short on attention span and quick to react. Julie Kavner’s Marge is supportive but reaches her limit with her dangerously inept husband. Nancy Cartwright’s Bart gets strangled a few times, but still accompanies a hammer-wielding Homer onto the roof. Yeardley Smith’s Lisa is the insight of any situation, as always, and Cartwright’s Maggie is the pragmatic token baby, dangerous when she has to be. Look for her brilliant first word at the end of the movie.

Director David Silverman (Monsters, Inc., The Simpsons TV Show) knows how to grab the viewer’s attention and delivers one payoff after another. Savvy editing, crucial to the timing of the jokes, hits the target with a sloppy thud of satisfaction over and over again.

Matt Groening (rhymes with raining – he said so himself) has kept his creation relevant for nearly two decades. We want the comfort of Homer’s lunacy, Marge’s stability, Maggie’s activism and Bart’s diabolical deeds. We don’t care that Maggie’s still sucking a pacifier when she should be leaving for college. These are the Simpsons and we wouldn’t want them any other way.

So sit back in front of the big screen with a Lard Lad Donut and a Kwik-E Mart Duff Beer and know that (in Homer’s mind, anyway) it really doesn’t get any better than this.