Who knew The Simpsons Movie would arrive in 2007? There’s no real anniversary to tie the movie into, and the show is still going strong, so I shocked to see The Simpsons Movie appear this year. Rumors about this movie have been tossed around for well over a decade, and, as it finally arrived, both critics and fans were surprised by the final product. A sharp movie which is a near perfect blend of both the sharp, satirical early seasons and the recent wacky ones, The Simpsons Movie is a home run and one of the best comedies of the year. But now that the movie has arrived on DVD, does it hold up? Well, let’s get the synopsis out of the way before we dive into the review itself.
In the long anticipated film, The Simpsons Movie finds the fate of Springfield – the suburban setting that has been home to The Simpsons clan for more than 18 years – hanging in the balance when Homer and his new pet pig inadvertently cause a major ecological disaster in their hometown. Forced to flee, it is up to the paunchy patriarch to save his family, the Springfield community and possibly . . . the world.
To answer the question I posed in the introduction, yes, the movie holds up remarkably well. Infact, I think it even benefits a little, too. The utter shock and dismay of The Simpsons on the big screen is washed away now, leaving the movie itself to be judged and, like I said, it holds up remarkably well. There’s a few cracks here and there, but overall, the movie’s a homerun.
The movie has this charm about it. I’m not sure whether it’s the delightful score, some really great writing, a truly heartbreaking moment roughly an hour in, or just the idea of there actually being a movie based on The Simpsons, but this movie truly has a special aura about it. Maybe I’m looking at the film through biased eyes (I’ve been a fan of The Simpsons for as long as I can remember), but this is just a hilarious, truly well-done movie. The animation is solid from start to finish, the script is great (though there are some flaws that I’ll get to) and, thankfully, the movie looks pretty damn sharp on DVD.
So, as for the movie itself, it’s a quickly-paced flick with a lot of laughs and some heart-wrenching emotion underneath. The tone of the show is captured perfectly, and the look of the film matches the series and even surpasses it, adding extra flare just for this big screen adventure. It looks good but doesn’t distract from the movie in anyway. If anything it adds to the story and makes it actually appear more than what it is. While this movie is basically an episode stretched out to 87 minutes, it works. There’s no boring stretches or long, wasteful scenes. It simply works, from start to finish. And, while the story is rock-solid, it doesn’t quite live-up to the expectations of a theatrical feature story. The story is big, of course. Without spoiling anything, Springfield is in dire peril and only Homer Simpson can save the day. While the threat doesn’t exactly eclipse some of the other travesties to befall Springfield, like Mr. Burn’s plan to block out the sun, it does range pretty high, but still seems to fall short of the expectations just a shade.
But for fans of The Simpsons, everyone is here. While the majority of characters get only a quick cameo before the story moves along, it’s great to see simply everyone in Springfield. And while it is unfortunate that a lot of the characters are negated to either visual cameos or a quick one-liner, some of them are really jaw-droppingly hilarious (like Ralph’s hilarious “I like men now” line.). However, given the copious amounts of deleted scenes, a handful of which are only available on the current DVD release, I am sure there’s a lot more dialogue that would have expanded some roles here (and, apparently, there’s a host of other characters, like Sideshow Bob, who were dropped from the film in the editing room). Regardless, it’s great to see (nearly) the entire Springfield in this great big screen adventure.
And the scene, where Homer watches a video-taped message from Marge, is absolutely heart-breaking and brilliantly performed. My favorite part of the movie, without question.
For fans of The Simpsons new and old, it’s worth checking out. There’s something here for everybody, no question. Whatever The Simpsons era you’re a fan of, there is bound to be something here you’ll like. It really expands and makes it more than a simple “Home screws up” plot. Yes, the threat could be stronger, but it still adequately moves the movie where it needs to be.
With a strong main feature, does the rest of the DVD hold up? Well, not as good as I’d hope. Given how feature-laden the season sets for The Simpsons are, I was hoping for a bit more here. Without a doubt a special edition of The Simpsons Movie is coming down the pipeline. That seems pretty much guaranteed. But for what we got, it’s a good collection, I just wish there was more. The commentaries are a good start and do provide a nice wealth of information (and hint to deleted scenes not featured here on the disc). The handful of deleted scenes included here are nothing special, but they do add a few extra humorous moments, a different design for Russ Cargil, and some additional characters tossed into the finale. Nothing special. My favorite extra features are, without the doubt, the ‘Special Stuff,’ particularly the “Let’s All Go To The Lobby” song featuring a hilarious cameo by Homer. Also included for extras are “Homer’s Monologue On The Tonight Show,” “The Simpsons Judge American Idol,” and “Homer Introduces American Idol.” Funny stuff on all three. The disc is rounded out with all the trailers (Thank you, Fox!) for the movie itself. Not a robust collection of extras, but serviceable until the inevitable two-disc re-release hits.
So, it really goes without saying that The Simpsons Movie makes a fine addition to anyone’s collection, whether you’re a die-hard fan or casual viewer. It’s a smart, funny movie that easily ranks up as one of the best of the year. The DVD release easily comes Recommended, even if a double-dip is inevitable. The extras are good for what’s included, but, personally, the main feature alone is worth it. It’s a truly funny movie, stretching beyond the boundaries of a typical series episode and into a great theatrical adventure. The Simpsons Movie managed to both do the series just and succeed on it’s own. While the threat may not fully work, and the script does slip slightly here and there, it’s still an enormously funny movie and one of the best “movies based on a TV series” flicks to date.
The Simpsons Movie is now available on DVD and Blu-ray Disc.