This Friday (July 27), ‘The Simpsons’ will enter your local multiplex theatres, and many of you will plunk down upwards of $10 to see it. ‘The Simpsons’ is the longest running sitcom in television history, and many mention it as one of the greatest shows ever made. And as much as it pains me to say, er, write this, this movie is going to suck.
As contradictory as it sounds, I agree that ‘The Simpsons’ is the greatest show ever made. The only caveat: it is long past its prime. In its prime, the show was the lone highlight of the Fox lineup. Every week, I would look forward to watching the adventures of the Simpsons and their interaction with everyone else in Springfield. It’s indisputable that ‘The Simpsons’ had the largest cast of any show ever written, and each cast member had a complex character and background. Watching the lot of them is one of the greatest pleasures I’ve had from one television show. (If you don’t believe me, watch ’26 Short Films About Springfield’ from season 7.)
Had the film come out during that period, I would be all for plunking down $15 or more to see it. Unfortunately, the show has declined dreadfully in quality since then, and this admittedly obsessed fan hasn’t even watched a new episode in 5 years. Why, you ask? Well, first of all, the aforementioned large cast of Springfield has devolved into a collection of razor-thin personas completely devoid of morality; they merely exist as punchlines. Furthermore, their characters often violate their own characterization for the sake of one joke.
But what’s worse is the evolution of The Homer Simpson Show. When the show first became popular, Bart was the star of the show (he won entertainer of the year in ‘Entertainment Weekly’); Homer was largely a member of the supporting cast, though he was manys favorite character. He was well-intentioned but dull and lazy, and a slave to beer and TV. (“No TV and no beer make Homer… something something”) Now, he’s far and away the star of the show, and the writers use him to do whatever crosses his mind. He’s no longer endearing or well-intentioned, he just decides to do things like become an artist or daredevil or one of the other hundreds of things he’s done. Simply stated, the writers have become lazy and dependent on Homer for stories.
Another consequence of The Homer Simpson Show is the cartoonishness. Each week, we can expect at least 30 seconds of Homer experiencing some sort of pain. There’s no more clever puns or well-thought-out jokes, it’s a collection of watching Homer get electrocuted or fall down stairs or cliffs. This may sound stupid, but the show has become a cartoon.
And it’s in this state that ‘The Simpsons Movie’ has emerged. Part of me is hoping for it to be a throwback to a time when the show mattered, and was, well, funny. But given the previews that I’ve seen (Homer clings to a wrecking ball, Homer gets crushed in an avalanche, Homer becomes obsessed with a pig), I’m not exactly holding my breath. It's akin to watching Michael Jordan playing for the Wizards or George Forman box on the wrong side of 50...it's just sad. Though admittedly I’ll probably cave, knowing that my $10 is going to people who have made my life that much funnier over the years, but in terms of entertainment, I’d much rather stay home and pop in a DVD from Season 6. Now that will be funny.