As any avid - nay, rabid - Simpsonite will surely empathize with, I walked into that theatre with equal amounts of long-anticipated titillation and nail-biting trepidation. Would this, could this be the same Simpsons that we have come to know and love for eighteen plus years, or would this indeed be the very death knell of an era? Could what was so brainy and bright, so grand and wonderful, so groundbreakingly brilliant, on the small screen, translate over to the big? I wondered. You wondered. We all wondered. Producer/writer Al Jean told Entertainment Weekly: "As an event, I think it'll be somewhere between Sgt. Pepper's the album and Sgt. Pepper's the movie." Were we all scared? Yes we were, but we were also vibrating with a fanboy glee. If anyone could pull off this feat it would be that intrepid little yellow family from Springfield, Wherever. And now the moment was finally, after 18 seasons and countless rewrites of the script, here. So, a nationwide army of dedicated Simpsonians, with fingers firmly crossed (the heft of which not seen since the heyday of Hands Across America) entered many a midnight hour theatre on June 26, 2007 and (im)patiently awaited their answer. The verdict. Best. Movie. Ever.
Okay, maybe not the best movie ever (sorry Comic Book Guy), but it certainly may be the best movie ever about a bald fat yellow guy who works in a nuclear plant and has an extremely tolerant blue beehive wearing wife, a bratty skate punk son equipped with handy dandy catch-phrases, a saxophone playing vegetarian daughter, a pacifier-chewing baby girl, an evil billionaire boss, a hi-diddleedoo nosy bible-waving neighbor, a beer-guzzling best buddy, a pair of wicked chain-smoking sisters-in-law, a senile pointy headed grampa, a dog named Santa's Little Helper, a penchant for getting into about as much trouble as (in)humanly possible, and a taste for donuts...mmmmm, donuts. D'oh! Seriously though, guess what? For all our worrying, nail-biting, finger-crossing and pessimistic boohoo and ballyhooing, in the end, we can say for certain - it didn't suck. Woohoo!!
The pop culture icons that have become (arguably?) more well known than just about any other (real-life?) public figures out there (in many a poll more people could name the Simpson family members than the members of the Senate, House, Presidential Cabinet and/or Supreme Court) have finally made the transition to the silver screen, and without missing a beat (well, almost) dazzle us in brilliant 35mm widescreen yellow glory. True, perhaps we don't see enough of the panoply of supporting characters (hardly any Krusty, Mr. Burns, Barney, Smithers, Apu, Wiggum, Quimby et al.) and that is certainly a shame that will hopefully be rectified with the future release of the super deluxe ultra hardcore twenty-seven disc dvd special director's cut limited edition collectors box set, but the core - the family - is there in spades, and what we do get (and we can never get enough for sure) is, not to use yet another Simpsonesque dalliance but, eeeeexellent.
And then, just as you are in the middle of laughing, the most unexpected thing happens. You get an actual lump in your throat. About three-quarters of the way through this elongated Simpsons episode, we are handed a scene where Marge opens her heart to her Homey as she had never done before and we get the one thing we never expected from this satiric comedy series - drama. Not faux drama either, but real heart-felt drama. Rumour has it Marge voicer Julie Kavner did this scene about a thousand times over and the reality of it all comes through in her cracking voice. At this point, The Simpsons Movie steps up another notch from mere "special episode" status to cinematic achievement. Toss in Spider-Pig (he does whatever a Spider-Pig does) and you got yourself one hell of a movie. As for a sequel? Go ask Maggie. [07/27/07]