The Simpsons Movie (2007)
Director: David Silverman
Screenwriters: James L Brooks, Matt Groening, Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, George Meyer, David Mirkin, Mike Reiss, Mike Scully, Matt Selman, John Swartzwelder, Jon Vitti
Starring: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, Pamela Hayden, Tress MacNeille, Albert Brooks, Russi Taylor
Plot: Following an escapade involving a pet pig, Homer inadvertently leads to Springfield’s incarceration under a glass dome. Exiled by the town and eventually his own family, Homer is determined to redeem himself by stopping the EPA from destroying Springfield.
The Simpsons Movie is a decade old this year, and as can be said for many an episode of The Simpsons, the underlying values it showcased still hold true today. In fact, The Simpsons Movie is somewhat of a pleasant time in history to look back upon – the President, Arnold Schwarzenegger, wants to prevent the pollution of Springfield from spreading, and although his means are drastic, his intentions are somewhat noble. Ah, if only. The environmental themes in the film hold strong against the tide of the future and an attempt at outlining a real issue with a comic plot allows The Simpsons‘s values to be transferred onto the big screen. By going big with their issue, they were able to extend the 22-minute episode to an 87-minute film that largely maintained pace.
This wasn’t the first attempt to turn The Simpsons into a feature film. Previous attempts involved expanding the Season Four premiere Kamp Krusty into a film. However, the fact that they had to add extra lines into the Kamp Krusty song in order to meet the minimum time limit quickly nixed these ideas. This time, they had some real material and expanded it to fit the feature film brief.
Early worries for fans and pundits alike revolved around the development of characters and whether a feature film was necessary. The Simpsons – ending its 18th season for summer as the film came out – was already long criticised as being old-hat and dated, especially with the growing popularity of Family Guy and American Dad. Did the world need a Simpsons movie at this point in time? Did it want one? Heedless of the warnings and doubts, Groening paved ahead.
We can’t talk about The Simpsons Movie without discussing the most memorable element in the film: Spider-Pig. Both the breakout star and the catalyst of the film’s events, Spider-Pig is a Homer caper of Simpsons long gone by. It was a strong starting point and involved heavily in the film’s marketing. Almost as though anything with the pig’s hoof-prints on was in the world of the film, and not the world of the series.
The real storyline of the film revolves around the dynamic between Homer and Marge. Marge has misgivings about the pig from the start – rightly so – and continues to be the voice of reason to an ever increasingly ridiculous Homer. Their relationship anchors the film in reality and relatability, as it does in most of the episodes of the series. The film also focuses on Homer and Bart; particularly their father-son dynamic. Bart calls Flanders a better father-figure than Homer (which is probably accurate) following a naked stunt (and some nudity!). Elsewhere Lisa gets another boyfriend – this one an Irish eco-warrior. It’s all very relatable Simpsons content which is probably a good idea when translating to the big screen.
The Simpsons Movie polarized opinion greatly. From those who tuned back into the family’s antics following the irreverence of the film, to those who called for the series’ cancellation, many factors were involved in whether or not you enjoyed the film. Maybe the pressure was too great and the passable feature was derided because it didn’t eclipse the pedestal that the Simpsons of the monorail days had been placed upon. As the years roll by, there is no doubt that The Simpsons Movie remains one of the key pieces of The Simpsons post-2000 that is worth viewing and will no doubt be as topical and timeless for many, many decades to come.