There's no way to satisfy a Simpsons fan. I mean, for a tv show which has technically reached the age of consent ? I didn't think so and I was right. But before anyone can say "Worst. Simpsons. Ever", I have to say that the movie does cater to the average movie goer. I mean, it is no coincidence that the movie begins with Homer asking "Why would anyone pay to see something they could watch on TV for free ?".
Because they make me laugh, that's why. Actually, I started laughing way before the movie began. As I sat through the previews of movies, there was one uber hilarious preview - Balls of Fury. Well, imagine a table tennis deathmatch ala Bloodsport, but with a straight-faced Christopher Walken (well, watch that trailer). Anyway, onto the Simpsons movie spoilers we go.
The movie opens up pretty decently with enough straight up gags. The Green Day concert accident, their funeral being held with American Idiot played on a church organ. But some of those were repetitive. Lisa and the cute environmentalist kid, for instance (anyone remember the "Dirt First" episode?). Or the Bart nude on a skateboard which was faintly reminiscent of the Austin Powers movies, except the part where he goes through the hedge and there's a glimpse of his ... y'know. And well, you *have* to hear "Spider Pig" to find it hilarious.
Then there's the environmentalists, except instead of being green peace style sabotage - there's real authority in the shape of EPA. The moment I heard the voice of the EPA chief Russ Cargil, I already knew they were the villains - they could've gotten a new voice instead of reminding me of Hank Scorpio. And he goes mad with power, as he himself says - "Yes, I'm mad with power. Have you ever seen someone go mad without power ? It's boring."
They seal off Springfield in a transparent dome to prevent the pollution from leaking (Marge knits "Dome, Sweet Dome"). And Kent Brockman calling it the "Trappuchino" (cue a starbucks cup with a transparent cover). And then they find that Homer is responsible for the last sludge tank which brings out a whole lynch mob for the Simpson family. And we see Homer go back to being a jerkass as he escapes through the sinkhole in maggie's sandbox.
And then they move to Alaska - but without the cliched "The Simpsons are going to _____" (Marge re-knits "Nome, sweet Nome"). Still, the Alaska sequence was perhaps the most funny part of the movie. A Disney movie parody of Snow White, Bambi and Cindrella - except, they're in a bedroom helping Homer & Marge get undressed. And Homer saying "I'm staying in Alaska, nothing can make me go back to America".
Eventually, we have Cargill talking about the "new" Grand Canyon between Shelbyville and Capitol City. Marge realizes that they are going to destroy Springfield, but Homer doesn't want to help the town. They split up and we have Homer trying to save his family.
But it had to have a happy ending, right ? And the movie closes with Maggie saying her second ever (heh) word - sequel and a La Marseillaise parody for the credits.
But to the fan inside me, there were some things glaringly missing. I mean, two hours of a movie and the only one getting drunk is Bart ? Where is Moe's Tavern, Barney or Homer hanging out with Lenny/Carl ? Flanders is a cool normal person, rather than being a complete example of square-hood. There's no Apu at all and I don't know why we didn't get to see Patty & Selma blame it all on Homer. On the other hand, there's Lisa knocking out Bart, which has never happened so far in the series either. And instead of Rainer Wolfcastle we have Ahnold Schwarzenegger, who was elected to lead & not to read.
But where are the flourishes of George Meyer or John Schwartzwelder ? If I wanted to draw parallels, compare an average Southpark episode with the movie itself to get an idea of how to drag three storylines together into a two hour movie - with the odd song thrown in. The Simpsons movie, as funny as the scattered gags were, hardly has anything which makes me really want to watch it again.
Memorable or not, it was funny while it lasted.--
Oh, well, of course, everything looks bad if you remember it.
-- Homer Simpson ("El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Homer")
So there I was watching Simpsons episode 9F21 where Homer talks about his barbershop quartet - the The Be Sharps. It was a quite unmistakable take on the original fab four - The Beatles. But what I hadn't counted on was the amount of research the screenplay and directors had been willing to put into this (or the one I was about to undertake).
I am not talking about the storyline and the parallels between the incident of Pete Best or the arrival of Barney's japanese girlfriend. I am talking about things which you'd miss out unless you took pains to research yourself. Take the Meet the Be Sharps album cover, for example. Compare it with the original cover of the Sgt. Pepper album .
Then there are the stunts which would've been hard to capture easily if it were not for the fact that Simpsons was a cartoon. In one of the studio stills from the recording of Let it be, Yoko Ono is in frame and hiding behind Lennon. In Simpsons we see the same with the machine playing a Number 8 which is sneaky take on the controversial Revolution 9 soundtrack.
John Lennon became infamous for one of his statements which in more cultured terms could be put as - "music transcends all borders, even religion". But he had to brashly put it down as "We're more popular than Jesus now." - this and the previous statements about religion and rock-n-roll cause no end of trouble for the beatles. It does put the following sequel album cover (of the quartet walking on water, like the Abbey Road album) in context (for the Be Sharps).
I can't imagine to quantify the effort pushed into twenty minutes of comedy where all these jokes just fade away on the TV screen before two in a hunderd thousand note these down on a pad to laugh later. I just had the luxury of screenshots and dynamic pausing to actually enjoy these jokes interspersed in the actually story. Of course, it takes a hardcore fan to note down the Moe's *C*avern and that Skinner's prisoner number (#24601) is the same as Jean Valjean.
Simpsons, the Most Accurate Cartoon ever.
And I am a night bird.
Real computer scientists don't write code and therefore hardly count (and rarely count accurately; precision is for applications).