Dan Castellaneta ... Homer Simpson/Itchy/Barney/Grampa/Krusty the Clown/Mayor Quimby/Sideshow Mel/Squeaky-Voiced Teen
Julie Kavner ... Marge Simpson/Patty/Selma
Nancy Cartwright ... Bart Simpson/Maggie Simpson/Ralph/Nelson/Todd Flanders
Yeardley Smith ... Lisa Simpson
Harry Shearer ... Scratchy/Mr. Burns/Rev. Lovejoy/Ned Flanders/Lenny/President Arnold Schwarzenegger/Kent Brockman/Principal Skinner/Dr. Hibbert/Smithers/Otto
Hank Azaria ... Professor Frink/Comic Book Guy/Moe/Chief Wiggum/Lou/Carl/Cletus/Bumblebee Man//Apu/Sea Captain/Dr. Nick
Marcia Wallace ... Edna Krabappel
Billie Joe Armstrong ... Himself
Tre Cool ... Himself
Mike Dirnt ... Himself
Tress MacNeille ... Colin/Mrs. Skinner/Cat Lady/Cookie Kwan/Lindsey Naegle
Pamela Hayden ... Milhouse Van Houten/Rod Flanders
Albert Brooks ... Russ Cargill
Russi Taylor ... Martin
Maggie Roswell ... Helen Lovejoy
Tom Hanks ... Himself
Joe Mantegna ... Fat Tony
It's hard to believe that I was 12 years old when I first saw an episode of The Simpsons. I've just celebrated my 29th birthday and the show is still on the air, not quite the ratings powerhouse that it once was almost 20 years ago, but still a significant pop culture barometer of cool. Even the most diehard Simpsons fan would have a hard time defending the lacklustre quality of the show for the past few seasons, but still it soldiers on, winning new fans in the next generation with its very particular humour sensibilities. When it was announced that The Simpsons would be heading to the big screen in movie form, I was somewhat skeptical due mostly to the fact that the show has done pretty much everything already. Even recruiting some of the most popular writers in the history of the show couldn't shake that feeling that all the movie would be is one big cash-in on a still very popular brand name.
One nice thing about adapting a show that is a veritable institution on television to the feature film medium is that there's very little the filmmakers have to do in regards to introducing the characters to a different audience. I don't think there are too many people out there who don't know who the Simpsons are, and if they do exist I don't think they'd trouble themselves to go to a movie about the characters. The movie starts off with Green Day performing in Springfield and dying in a terrible environmental disaster that, in typical Simpsons style, is completely brushed off by the idiot civilians of Springfield. Soon enough, Homer (Castellaneta) and his new-found best friend Spider-Pig cause an even worse environmental catastrophe leading to President Arnold Schwarzenegger (Shearer) accepting EPA head Russ Cargill's (Brooks) plan of encasing Springfield in a giant dome to keep them from destroying the country with their wasteful ways. It's not a terribly intricate plot, and it certainly echoes many storylines the show has aired throughout the years.
Once the sheer delight of seeing The Simpsons on the big screen wears off, you have to hope that the writing will keep you involved in the film rather than cause you to lose interest in the story. There's no possible way that the movie could be anything but derivative considering they're working with nearly 20 years of continuity-bucking tradition. Well, I guess they could've made the movie about a talking pie that travels back in time for some reason, but that would just be nutty. And require Ron Howard to direct it. Thankfully, Simpsons vet and animation pro David Silverman directs the movie and ... well, it doesn't feel like it's not a Simpsons movie, so I'll chalk that up as a success on the writing and directing fronts.
The most important question to answer is whether or not the storyline truly deserved it's own 87 minute feature film, or if it was just something that the Simpsons creative team could've used as one of the weekly shows. I truly love the show, but in my heart of hearts I have to say that other than some upgraded animation techniques, Tom Hanks and an extended running time, there's pretty much nothing about the movie that justifies its very existence. Well I'm sure the executives at Fox will disagree with me there, as the film has pulled in over $129 million in less than two weeks of release. Clearly the show is still profitable and will probably continue to be produced until we're all dead and gone. I was really counting on them stopping after the 20th season, but who knows now.
If you're even a casual fan of the television show, you will enjoy yourself watching The Simpsons Movie. It's well-written, entertaining and engaging and almost awakens a desire in yourself to go back to watching the show on a weekly basis. Almost. It's well worth the price of admission to see what will probably be the last creative milestone in the history of the most popular animated television show of all time, if only for a brief 87 minutes.
3.5 / 5