The Simpsons Movie
Homer’s Epic Journey
By Richard J. Davis
I’ve often found myself laughing alongside my 10-year-old son Alex as he watched The Simpsons TV show. From an intellectual standpoint, I don’t know if that says good things about him or bad things about me. But what I found really unnerving was the fact that he sometimes got the jokes a few seconds before I did (sometimes more than a few seconds).
Up to now, the best thing about my secret fondness for the Springfield clan was the fact that, despite their huge popularity, they stayed on the small screen. I could feign being a “passive” viewer, pretending to myself and others that I just happened to be there when the kids turned on the award-winning animated series.
So when I heard that they had made a Simpsons Movie, I met the news with more than a little trepidation. After all, this meant that I would have to admit that I, a grown man of 40, enjoyed a cartoon. For me, stepping into a movie theater to see the Simpsons on the big screen meant crossing a special line.
But the attraction was too much and the line was crossed. Buying a ticket, I walked into the theater. To my surprise it was packed with other 40-year-olds, some with their kids and some alone.
And for this wonderfully creative and entertaining movie, I’d cross that line a million times.
It all starts with Homer, his new pet pig, and a leaky silo full of pig droppings (although Homer admits he helped). This odd combination leads to disaster not only for the Simpsons, but for the entire Springfield citizenry. Where it goes from there is a life-changing journey for Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and even Maggie (okay, maybe not Maggie).
After it’s discovered that Homer is the cause of Springfield’s calamity, he and his entire family are forced to flee for their lives. Homer, hoping for a fresh start, leads his brood to Alaska. But this time, he may have gone too far. His monumental blunder has shaken the foundation of his relationship with Marge and the kids to such a degree that it begins to crack. And then things get really bad.
After viewing the film, it’s clear that the Simpsons Movie creators we’re really set on doing much more than just splicing together three TV episodes for a quick buck. Current show runner Al Jean explains: “We wanted to create a story that demanded the scope offered by the big screen. We wanted to make a film with heart.”
“We have one hundred speaking parts in the movie and we created scenes we couldn’t begin to draw for series,” comments James L. Brooks, one of the film’s writer-producers. “Most of all, we wanted it to be a real movie-going experience for the audience.”
To help with that vision, director David Silverman, who also directed Monsters, Inc, devised a visual style that was true to the show while expanding it for the motion picture frame. Silverman made full use of the widescreen aspect ratio of 2:35 to 1, which allowed him to put more characters in the frame and lavish considerable attention on every screen. “We didn’t want to break the graphic look of the series, but instead enrich it and fill it out,” Silverman says.
Writing for the film began in 2003 with the creation of an “all-star writing team which included James L. Brooks, Matt Groening and other writers who had been with the show since its inception. Of the experience, writer Jon Vitti recounts “It was a privilege to see these guys at work every day — and just a nightmare trying to keep up with them.”
The Simpsons Movie, with its rich, fully developed storyline, intriguing subplots and well-crafted, rapid-fire gags, kept the audience laughing and entertained from start to finish. On the other hand, the complexity of the story’s many twists and turns, as well as the speed at which it unfolds, may leave some audience members confused. To be on the safe side, you may want to have a ten-year old on hand to explain things if you get lost.