Fans, Foes Will Find Plenty of Ammo in The Simpsons Movie
- Christian Hamaker Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2007 27 Jul
DVD Release Date: December 18, 2007
Theatrical Release Date: July 27, 2007
Rating: PG-13 (for irreverent humor throughout)
Run Time: 87 min.
Director: David Silverman
Actors: Voices of Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Harry Shearer, Hank Azaria, Albert Brooks, Joe Mantegna
A feature-length movie based on the animated TV series, The Simpsons Movie includes all the antics, both positive and negative, that those familiar with the show expect. Bad-boy Bart uses the word “hell,” ignorant father Homer unintentionally upsets his wife Marge, daughter Lisa engages in sanctimonious door-to-door environmental activism, and the entire family attends church for all the wrong reasons. But the movie ups the ante with certain excesses that push the film into “PG-13” territory: Marge exclaims, “godd—n” and Grandpa Simpson flops around the church floor while prophesying.
Such antics will prove too much for some Christian fans of the show, while others may see them, in context, as meaningful satire. Both camps will find plenty to laugh at—or plenty to be offended by—depending on their tolerance for The Simpsons’ stock blend of sarcasm, satire and skewering of political correctness.
That’s the same tightwire the show has always walked. Many Christians have had a love/hate relationship with the pop-culture phenomenon since it debuted in the late 1980s. Its very first full-length episode—a Christmas-themed story about Homer being denied a Christmas bonus by his evil boss, Mr. Burns, then losing at the dog track while trying to win money to buy presents for his children—introduced the back-talking Bart, his philosophical sister Lisa, baby Maggie and the husband-wife team of Homer and Marge. The ending was heartwarming and family friendly, and the episode’s balance of childhood sass and parental patience set a strong precedent that subsequent episodes of the program only infrequently recaptured. Yet despite some ups and downs, The Simpsons continues to air on the FOX network, and has become one of the longest-running situation comedies in TV history.
Now comes the first feature film, running about four times as long as a regular TV episode. Can the feature sustain a plotline throughout the running time? Not really, but fans will excuse the careening storyline in exchange for frequent laughs. On that score, the movie delivers.
The first half hour is the strongest portion of the film. A trademark “Itchy and Scratchy” cartoon, with ultra-violent high jinks, kicks things off before the main “plot,” such as it is, unfolds. It goes something like this.
The Simpson family attends a church service in their hometown of Springfield (“Thou Shalt Turn Off Thy Cell Phone,” reads a sign outside the building). When Grandpa Simpson flops around on the floor like a chicken, uttering nonsense words, Marge believes them to be prophetic. She calls Grandpa’s episode a “genuine religious experience,” and has her belief validated through a series of actions involving her family and community.
And what would those be? Homer adopts a pig and keeps the pig’s waste in a silo. He dumps the full silo into Lake Springfield. The consequences are extreme, bringing down the wrath of the Environmental Protection Agency and its head, Russ Cargill, with the permission of President Schwarzenegger. Together, they agree to place a giant dome over Springfield to contain further outbreak of environmental havoc.
The Simpsons find their way outside of the dome, but the movie has a hard time knowing where to go thereafter. The screenwriters send the family to Alaska, where things deteriorate between Homer and Marge. Meanwhile, Bart finds solace from another father figure—Ned Flanders—while Lisa pines for a young man trapped inside the domed town.
Realizing he has brought catastrophe upon Springfield, Homer returns to save the town, now targeted by Cargill for destruction. The finale recaptures some of the earlier hilarity while delivering a nice moral about Homer’s realization that he must put others before himself (which he does, in his own inimitable way). The conclusion should put a smile on the faces of viewers as they exit the theater. (Those who choose to sit through the credits will be treated to a few funny moments.)
Like the program on which it’s based, The Simpsons Movie includes some over-the-line language and bad behavior, and it pokes fun at religious and political sanctimony. But it also includes a family that fractures and reunites, a young girl filled with idealism, and a boy who finds comfort from the religious neighbor he’s previously mocked.
The Simpsons Movie continues, and even reinvigorates, the long-running franchise. Is it something you’ll want to watch or take your kids to see? You probably knew the answer to that question before you even read this review.
Questions or comments about this review? Contact Christian Hamaker at [email protected].
AUDIENCE: Teens and up
- Language/Profanity: Lord’s name taken in vain; Marge says “godd--n”; a silo is labeled “pig crap”; Homer extends both middle fingers; a few other profanities; a quip that “more than two shakes is just playing around.”
- Drugs/Alcohol: A bus driver smokes a bowl; patrons drink at Moe’s Tavern; in a moment of imminent doom, the patrons run into a church and the church members run into the tavern; Bart drinks and passes out.
- Sex/Nudity: Milhouse tells Lisa she can “canvass” him; Bart skateboards naked, and his penis is shown; Homer contemplates kissing a pig; two male police officers kiss; animals watch Homer and Marge in bed; Homer and Marge kiss.
- Violence: Cartoonish antics include a hyper-violent “Itchy and Scratchy” cartoon; violent video games; Homer putting a bee’s nest in Flanders’ mailbox; a hammer piercing Homer’s eye; Homer trying to make Bart fall off of a roof; Nelson punching Milhouse; Bart shooting a pellet gun at Homer; mobsters dragging a body to a lake; Homer electrocuting fish and shocking himself; a giant dome crushing a man; birds flying into the dome; a mob crying out for vigilante justice; Lisa punching Bart; a boy retaliating against a group of bullies; a man aiming a gun at Homer.
- Religion: Homer makes begrudging, irreverent remarks about a “phony God” as the family enters a church service; Grandpa Simpson rolls on the floor and utters a prophecy; Homer looks through a Bible but says, “This book doesn’t have any answers”; Flanders inadvertently utters the word “penis” while saying grace; Flanders says his boys “pray through the knees” of their jeans; Flanders tells his boys, “When you meet Jesus, be sure to call him Mr. Christ.”