Monday, August 20, 2007

Why Make A Simpsons Movie? D'Ough!

The Simpsons Movie, Odeon Telford, Sunday August 19 2007, 8.15pm.

First off, let's make it clear your cool-on-cartoons correspondent is no Simpsons obsessive. Have laughed along to many a show, and would generally concur it's one of the landmark programmes of our era, but when pubtalk moves to matching gags to particular episodes your huffy hack will quickly look to shift it back to music, football or girls. Yet in what seems a weak summer season, The Simpsons Movie appeared to offer the most palatable blend of brainfood and pop(culture)corn on the multiplex menu.

Belly-laughs start early with an inspired Itchy and Scratchy toon that sets the tone for a satisfying stirfry of slapstick and subversion, although the laugh-o-meter settles down to a steady stream of chucklesome moments without quite ever spilling over into wet-your-pants hilarity. The storyline quite comfortably reaches the running time without feeling like an over-long episode but there's a softer centre to proceedings than usual and a slight tendency to sentimentality probably explained by the need to pander to a broader audience taste than normal.

Most disappointing, perhaps, is that the linear plotline doesn't allow for meatier subplots concerning the fantastic range of supporting characters that have built up over the series. Having typed that, the Simpson movie of my dreams, that would owe as much to Altman and Pynchon than Hanna and Barbera in its holistic and hilarious debunking of a corrupt age, would never get made, let alone released, despite the potential hinted at during some of the best episodes over the years. And so, we're left with the best Simpsons movie we could hope for that would also earn over 100 million bucks at the box office, a pretty good way to spend 90 minutes without ever approaching the greatness of landmark cinematic toons like Toy Story or The Incredibles.

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