By Cornelius A. Fortune
The Simpsons Movie
In theaters now
Eighteen years-plus is a long time to stay somewhat irreverent, especially when so much of your DNA has been spliced off for prime time animated TV.
“The Simpsons” have more or less managed it despite competition with progenitors “South Park” and “Family Guy,” and has consistently delivered occasionally brilliant satire in a 30-minute format beamed straight to your living room.
So we finally have the long-awaited “Simpsons Movie,” and you know what? The magic of “The Simpsons” touched me again. This isn’t a pitch perfect movie, but it’s a perfect “Simpsons” movie. The animation is more complex than the TV show, the details are cleaner. Where the episodes offer a pretty sizable appetizer, the movie delivers a main course meal that leaves you fully satisfied and awaiting a sequel.
But why should you pay to see something you could otherwise see for free at home? Fear not, the movie addresses this. It plays, it jostles, slows a little in the middle, and then picks up all the seemingly left fragments to deliver a wham-bam ending.
Want to hear little Maggie’s first word? Got to see the movie. Itchy and Scratchy? Check. Krusty the Clown? Check. Moe’s Tavern? You’re covered. Mr. Burns? Brief, but he’s there with his trusted (and perhaps one day romantic interest) assistant Smithers.
The filmmakers take full advantage of their PG-13 rating. Some of it’s even racier than Comedy Central programming, and that’s saying something.
And yes, there are a couple of gay references. You have kissing cops identified in the credits as simply the “Kissing Cops.” There’s a full frontal glimpse of a main character’s genitalia, as well as the word “penis” spoken by none other than Christian Zealot and next door neighbor Ned Flanders. Having glimpsed said private part, a male character says, “I like boys!”
The movie’s story could have been the basis of a half-hour show, but they stretch it through 85 minutes (in places it seemed obvious).
Late for a funeral service of a well-known rock band, the Simpsons arrive just in time to watch Grandpa Simpson get a “religious” experience. He spouts off a few odd words, and is literally rolled out of the church. Homer falls in love with a pig that’s on its way to becoming someone’s dinner, when Homer takes him in. The bonding that follows between man and beast causes son Bart a fit of jealously, leading him to seek out another parental figure.
Our environmentally conscious Lisa Simpson presents “An Irritating Truth,” a lecture on the need for Springfield to clean up its act. But the ever-devolving Homer puts into motion a crisis that has to be solved by movie’s end.
Just when you think they’ve run out of creative juice, Matt Groening and company turn it up to remind defectors like me that “The Simpsons” are to “Family Guy” and “South Park” as Elvis was unto The Beatles. You couldn’t have had one without the other, and “The Simpsons” are probably more relevant today than they were in 1989. “The Simpsons Movie” (and its record-breaking box office performance) lays to rest any doubt that TV’s first family have lost their mojo.