Simpsons’ lives up to prime-time glory

Even if the Simpsons’ glory days of the 1990s are long gone, their new movie reminds fans of why America’s No. 1 family is so popular: delightfully crass humor.

Many critics have said that The Simpsons has reached its comedic peak during the hit television show, especially after more than 400 episodes have been aired. But even though the first few seasons pale in comparison with the later ones, everyone still gets a chuckle from seeing the antics of the yellow-skinned clan of Springfield.

With the new, feature-length film, the laughs start right from the beginning – well, actually before the movie even begins: Ralph Wiggum stands inside the 20th Century Fox Logo and sings along with the anthem to his heart’s content.

The dumb jokes such as this are just as funny as the clever wit and satire for which the Simpsons are known and loved.

Like the TV program, the audience gets to swoop into Springfield and see the vast of array of characters, major and minor, giving everyone a chance to see their favorite. Not to mention some subtle jokes: Bart writes, "I won’t illegally download this movie" on the chalkboard.

The Simpsons Movie isn’t trying to top the classic episodes, but rather has the opportunity to expand outside the regular half-hour frame and go way beyond the norm of an episode. And the movie does go way beyond the norm – even for the Simpsons.

There’s the temptation of whether to discuss the jokes and gags of the film -†Bart’s full frontal nudity, the town trying to hang Homer, the sex scene between Homer and Marge involving forest critters, the many homosexual moments among characters, the bomb-defusing robot and its demise, the shaman lady with large breasts and Homer’s epiphany -†but the original shock would probably make all the jokes even better.

And if 18 seasons of watching The Simpsons has taught audiences anything, it’s that Homer’s ineptitude would eventually bring great disaster to Springfield -†and it does.

Lake Springfield’s pollution has reached dangerous levels and Lisa has decided to put an end to it. After Lisa shows her presentation, "An Irritating Truth," to the general public at a town meeting, Springfield decides to go green, but Homer apparently doesn’t get the memo.

Homer’s act of stupidity, though, isn’t the most horrible thing in the world -†even if it involves a pig. The consequences of Homer’s actions are over-exaggerated, but appropriate when trying to fill a feature-length film with material. Springfield is soon under the mercy of President Arnold Schwarzenegger and the tyrannical forces of the Environmental Protection Agency.

It’s better than a giant plate blocking the sun, I suppose.

But Simpsons regulars should know by now that everything revealed in the first few minutes of the story always takes some unexpected turn. There are many layers of wit within each scene of the movie, such as Green Day playing "Nearer, My God, to Thee" as their stage is being sunk by the townspeople. And you can’t forget the self-deprecation, the jabs at the Disney Corporation and the sly commentary on religion and politics.

Don’t expect ecstatic satisfaction after walking out of the theater, but rather nostalgia – even as Homer points out: "Why are we paying to see something when we can see it for free on TV?"

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