The Simpsons Movie is funny, or at least it's funny enough. The show is unwatchable these days but the movie tones down the reflexive irony and manages to wring some good material out of a very, very tired set of characters. Still, it's a stale old scene and the film contains zero dramatic tension and lacks any real purpose outside of the expected cavalcade of moderate hilarity. Although it runs to eighty-five minutes, the movie somehow contrives to feel emptier than a single episode from the show's golden years. If you've seen one of the many episodes in which Homer has to overcome his manifold deficiencies and prove himself a good husband and father then you've basically seen the movie and might as well just wait six months and watch the funny bits on youtube.
Random thoughts (positive):
- After years of desperate storylines in which the Simpsons must help/shelter/adopt supporting character x, the filmmaker's decision to relegate the vast secondary cast to a handful of cameos was a smart one. Flanders gets a (naff) sub-plot with Bart, but otherwise the residents of Springfield do their thing where they do it best: in the background.
- Casting regular guest star Albert Brooks as the bad guy was a good move, reviving memories of his classic turn as the megalomaniac Scorpio ("He'll sting you with his dreams of power and wealth!")
- Celebrity appearances are kept at a minimum. Tom Hanks has a funny spot, but otherwise that's about it. I bet Ron Howard's pissed off he wasn't asked to appear.
- Spiderpig is brilliant.
Random thoughts (negative):
- Considering how many great episodes focus on Lisa, it's a shame she's given little more to do in the movie than make eyes at yet another sensitive Springfield newcomer.
- Also, Marge tends to work best when she is allowed to function as something other than Homer's foil. Unfortunately here she is reduced to nagging-wife mode.
- Bart has a very funny bit (literally) but otherwise comes across like the early-nineties throwback that he is.
- The attempts at satire are deadly dull. Considering the state of the world atm you'd think the writers could have come up with something sharper than a few half-arsed digs at the environmental movement and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
- The various jokes at the audience's expense are gratuitous and unfunny, the film's equivalent of the show's now-standard device of openly referring to the cynicism of a storyline or character as if that not only excuses it but makes it funny when in fact it does neither.