With a rabid fanbase, The Simpsons Movie was a success the moment it was greenlit. The opening weekend draw would have been enough to make it a resounding financial success regardless of quality, and thankfully, that’s not the route the film took. While it doesn’t revolutionize the series or characters, the gags are non-stop with constant laughs, in-jokes, references, and political jabs that are worth the price of admission.
What’s important to note about the film is that it doesn’t go off the deep end to take advantage of the non-television environment. A few minor moments would have potentially caused censors to cringe, though even these are rather mundane. It’s the appropriate tone as taking things too far would be out of character for anyone in the series after 18 years of development on FOX. This is a perfect middle ground between the two formats.
Aside from that, finding everything buried in this 87-minute animated piece is going to take years. To catch it all, you’ll need to check backgrounds, character reactions, and rewind dialogue. Simpsons fans will have plenty to discuss.
The story is squarely set on Homer, as he stupidly causes Springfield to become encased in a giant dome due to their pollution problems. It takes some time for the plot to kick in, as opening moments are somewhat hectic and chaotic in terms of flow. They don’t always serve a purpose to the overall film. It’s more concerned with religious slaps, parodies, and pop culture zings.
When it does come together, the pacing is steady and sharp. There’s little time to become bored or uninterested. The Simpson family struggles through some rough spots before bonding together to save Springfield from the oppressive government.
Certain story elements never seem to go anywhere, and a secondary piece involving Ned Flanders is not only a rip from an episode of the TV series, it doesn’t lead to a satisfactory payout given how much of the running time it takes up. Fans of certain characters, notably Hans Moleman, Disco Stu, and Groundskeeper Willie will find themselves leaving the theater disappointed. However, it’s more than commendable how many residents are given at least one line of dialogue, and it’s typically with some connection to the main storyline (instead of tossing them in for the sake of uttering a trademark phrase).
Did we need a movie on The Simpsons? Not really, and the film’s priceless opening sequence addresses this. Yet, it’s hard to resist finally seeing these iconic characters on a big screen, complete with vivid animation usually absent from the TV show. Even if the storyline is forgettable, the typical imagination and relevant jokes keep this comedy worthwhile, and unquestionably worth the price of admission. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Movie]
It probably didn’t take much to bring the film to Blu-ray. The source is simple, but undeniably gorgeous. The HD presentation presents the simple, solid colors beautifully. The lines are sharp without aliasing or shimmering. No compression is noticed, and the picture has a pristine sheen to it. It’s not “wow”-worthy like the highest end live action transfers are due to the simplistic source.
Edit: Upon taking a second look, we have lowered the score from a 5/5 to a 4/5. There are significant ringing problems around nearly every line in the film. While still razor sharp and wonderfully saturated, the thin white lines around outlines are a constant bother, worse on larger screens. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]
Bass is the obvious highlight of this uncompressed audio affair. It’s in your face throughout, providing a heavy room-shaking whenever called upon, and it’s needed more often than one would think. Surround use is also consistent, as with the finale on the motorcycle, which easily fills the available channels. Numerous little moments that would likely go unnoticed by most (Barney’s quip to Moe about being a ruler comes from the left as it should) are evident if you’re listening. [xrr rating=5/5 label=Audio]
Extras are carried over from the DVD edition, and remain lackluster. The best of the lot here are two commentaries, one which stops the movie at certain points to pick out small details you probably missed while you watch. Both are necessary listening for fans. Five minutes of deleted scenes offer brief gags cut from the film, though given the running time, having most of these in the movie wouldn’t have hurt. “Special Stuff” is a section that offers various promo appearances of Homer during promotion, including The Tonight Show and American Idol. These barely last three minutes. Loads of trailers make up a whopping list of bonus features that come in under 10 minutes, excluding commentaries. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Extras]