I had a terribly strong reaction to this film; one I was hardly expecting. The strangest thing happened to me while watching “The Simpsons Movie”, about a third of the way through, I stopped loving that easily lovable Homer Simpson. You know, the big yellow guy that makes you love him, even though he’s the worst Father and Husband on the planet; somehow his making one mistake after the other always seems so harmless…after all, it’s a cartoon, right? He’s there to parody those Fathers and Husbands who are not perfect, but try. I hate to say it, but I even stopped liking him for a short time. His character became not so much a parody, but an actuality; a full fledged selfish jerk (something the show has always has been conscious about keeping him from being); someone who by not caring about the effects of his actions, ends up hurting all those around him. Thankfully, that’s what builds into the emotional crux of the film, and allows Homer to climb back from the lowest depths he’s ever reached, making the film as a whole worth reliving.
Maybe it’s that I haven’t written about the death of Ingmar Bergman yet that I have become so serious about “The Simpsons Movie”, but folks, this is serious business. As a nation, we love the Simpsons. They were getting under the skin of religious fundamentalists and family values freaks long before South Park came along. A child talking to his Father like that!!?? I heard someone talking loudly about the film on a flight recently, of course I found out that he hadn’t seen the movie, but that didn’t make his opinion less important since he felt everyone needed to hear it. He spoke of a particular scene, one that even if you know is coming is so nicely timed, it still makes you gasp, then shriek with laughter. The man with the microphone and loud speaker said he didn’t want to see the film because it’s trying to get away with putting things on film that couldn’t be put on television. I’m sad to say he’s right, but doubly happy that I would have thought that even if he hadn’t said that. The moment, while shocking at first, is harmless enough in the end. I can imagine my Preacher’s wife Mother laughing despite her best intentions, and my Preacher Father shaking his head and saying that other cartoon adage “good grief”. In recent years, the television show has lost that edge, sure there have been bright moments — the episode that Ricky Gervais guest starred, and the episode from this recent season in which Bart gets the snake, captured that essence the show had lost, but that’s what everyone has been saying to sound “in the loop”. Truthfully, I’ve always thought The Simpsons to be a far better show than the South Parks and Family Guys of the airwaves. This film though, takes that essence and raises the bar a great deal higher, both for “mature audiences” but also in its emotional maturity. You get the sense that after 10 years of not writing for the show many of the writers have grown up and perhaps have families of their own, so know how to hurt the members of a family and know how to ask for forgiveness, and in it’s maturity it did what the Simpsons are known for, but to pull a heart string or two and to break a heart or two. Once sequence in the film had me feeling just as emotionally saddened as I am when I watch a Wong-Kar Wai film…take that Peter Griffin!
Not to say that the film isn’t funny, from the moment the 20th Century Fox logo chimed in I was giggling. And that grew to a volcanic-sized laugh by the time the time one of the last lines uttered in the movie occurred, even more surprising was it that it was uttered by one of the guest stars.
This film also had some amazing animation, and another surprise was in seeing all of the Korean names scroll by as I was waiting for the other credit “goodies”. Certainly they must have saved a lot of money going over seas, but it certainly might be saying something when even an animated film as 2-D as the Simpsons needs to go out of country to save a few bucks. What? Well, I’m not going to pretend to know anything about the business end of filmmaking, even though I’m in it, but it must say something about how expensive it is to make films here now, and that everyone is losing out on some good work because of it
The only other thing I can say is that now listed on IMDB.com are four new episode or movies or something of “Futurama”, each with a subheading of their own. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0004981/ I can only hope that the writers here have also grown and we’ll see moments as magnificent as the one I wrote about in an earlier post, here.