I have a hunch that I have a greater affinity towards The Simpsons than most readers of this blog. (My blog bio says one of my ambitions is to write an episode. Seriously, it does say that.) The knowledgeable Simpsonophile will note that I have at least one reference to The Simpsons in every conversation. I’ve noticed, however, even the most obvious references are missed more often when I’m conversing with undergrads as opposed to my grad school friends.
Maybe its because I’m a bit older than the average reader. I’m old enough to remember many of the Tracy Ullman shorts and got to see most of the first few seasons in their original versions, unedited for syndication. I always felt a bond with Lisa in many ways even as I was often no more mature than Bart or Homer. Maybe it’s because I’m just nerdier or dorkier. I remember fondly the “Simpsons drinking games” while watching back to back episodes (sometimes even a third). Whatever the case, I’m a likely to be a bit more obsessed with The Simpsons than the average person in general. That’s how I went into The Simpsons Movie: an obsessive, nostalgic, factoid-full fan. I wasn’t really disappointed (More after the jump. No spoilers, don’t worry)
The first half hour or so was a massive collage of jokes and gags. I have to admit, I’m constantly looking at background characters and signs for the subtle jokes that the writers always throw in each episode. And I made sure to note how many obscure characters I could find. (I don’t remember seeing Side Show Raheem, and Phil Hartman’s death really did leave a hole in the movie.) That first part was complete overload for The Simpsons aficionados–I’ll probably have to watch again to catch what I missed the first pass.
The movie then slowed down substantially. At least enough to catch my breath. I wasn’t necessarily thrilled with the major story line, but the subplots were great. Very much in the spirit of the first several seasons: emotional and character driven. You could definitely see the work of Al Jean, Mike Reiss, Matt Greoning, and Jim Brooks. There are a lot of themes from the early years that were brought up, which happened to be from some of my favorite episodes. (I won’t mention them, you’ll have to guess.) That should not disparage some of the other writers, who’s influence you could definitely see at times (Schartzwelder, Vitti, Mirkin, Scully, Maxtone-Graham, etc.)
The timing and direction of the movie was outstanding. David Silverman and all the others were superb. There is a scene with Homer eating a hamburger that was great–something you could never do as “easily” in live action.
It was a little different seeing the characters so enormous on the big screen and since I only got there 25 minutes early, I was stuck in less then prime seats. (I’m trying to talk myself into going again.) The animation, as always was fun and brilliant. The big screen made it even better.
All this rambling to say this: There is a lot packed into this movie. Simpsons fans will be treated to a lot of jokes that may not be obvious to everyone else. There are plenty of “left of right-wing” jabs thrown out all over. There is a lot of emotion. Good subplots, even if you’re not a fan of the big story line. Its worth seeing. And there was a little surprise during the credits that I won’t reveal. Nor can I speak of its veracity, but it would be nice if it’s true.