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The Simpsons Movie
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I guess the first thing to be said about "The Simpsons Movie" is not that it is funny, which it is with hardly a letup from beginning to end, but that we expect it to be funny and we are not disappointed. After 18 years and 4000 episodes, you'd think the writers would have dried up. Instead, they find new jokes, new variations on a theme, new ways to make us laugh. A few critics, as a way I suppose of demeaning the film, say that it's like watching four episodes of "The Simpsons." Well, of course it is, and what's wrong with that? As long as all four episodes were as witty as the movie, we'd be very happy.
The film opens with Itchy and Scratchy on the moon, with Itchy once again doing absolutely horrible things to Scratchy; we cut to a theatre, where the Simpsons have been watching it, and Homer gets up to say, "Why should we pay for this when we can get it for free at home?" Well, why indeed? We can get it at home, but it's at least as funny when there are 300 people around us laughing hysterically at it. As we do with Homer's pet pig, whom he sings the Spiderman song to as he marches it across the ceiling. And as we do with perhaps the funniest moment in the film, where Homer dares Bart to skateboard naked downtown. "But they'll see my doodle," Bart says. Yes, we will, but the filmmakers turn it into one of the great moments in film comedy, hiding the doodle in shot after shot by photographing it (yes, I know it's all drawn on the computer) through foliage or other obstructions, building the scene in shot after shot (will we get to see the doodle at all?) until they mask out everything BUT the doodle as the payoff. Nothing is too sacred, in the same way that "South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut" was relentless in its tastelessness.
The film has a plot of sorts; Homer dumps pollutants into Springfield's lake, Lisa leads the fight to restore it. That's it. Is it enough? Sure, when there are endless excursions leading us hither and yon - the rock band at the concert to restore the lake, seeing that the polluted water is eating at their barge, take out their violins and play the music the band from "Titanic" played as they sink beneath the waves. And you'll learn which four states border this particular Springfield; just get out your atlases.
Eleven writers are credited - all of them have produced earlier episodes of the Simpsons show; they know what they're doing. Don't disappoint them; see the movie.
8/3/07 <! new pasted review ends on line above>