July 29, 2007

Simpsons Movie: Woohoo! D'oh! Woohoo!

Saturday was a day I'd yearned for in excess of a decade and a half. After years and years of speculation and hope, I finally had the chance to enter a movie theater and see The Simpsons Movie. Nearly 90 minutes of The Simpsons in all their yellow, dysfunctional glory, without commercial breaks and much, much larger than ever before. I also was lucky enough to see the show with some of my closest friends and my wife.

As any good diehard will tell you, The Simpsons Movie wasn't perfect. There's no way that a single film can meet all the built-up hopes and expectations we had. There's no way that 87 minutes can provide the show's fans enough time to see all the minor characters we wanted. And for every laugh we had during the film, and there were many, we could find issues we would have improved were we running the show.

The show itself was divided into three parts. Simplified for spoiler avoidance, you had: Crisis, Escape and Resolution. The escape had the Simpsons headed to Alaska, away from Springfield, where all the fun is. The escapade to the great white north took the Simpson family out of their element, away from the hilarity of people who were greatly neglected in the film, like Apu, Patty and Selma, Groundskeeper Willy, and even usually non-funny folks like Principal Skinner, Gil the salesman, and the acne-ridden teenager whose voice is constantly breaking.

What I loved about the movie was that it started immediately and kept going at a quick pace. Without the usual buildup you see, even in the 30-minute weeklies, with delayed on-screen credits, the movie jumped into its element immediately, and one scene led to another. I loved the fact Bart and Homer continued their efforts to be the worst father-son combo of all time, and that the writers could take liberties with the content that aren't available on network television.

What I didn't like about the movie was the introduction of new characters, as in a series so rich as The Simpsons, there's really no need to add more to the mix and introduce their background. This also squeezed out some of the much-desired peripheral people. I also didn't like the utter non-believability of some parts. As dumb as that may sound, The Simpsons are largely funny because their antics could theoretically happen, as they reflect a certain element of our society. When they cross from potential reality to obvious supernatural, I'm annoyed. And the worst part? It was done all too soon. If Pirates of the Carribean and Dances with Wolves can touch the 3 hour mark, The Simpsons on the big screen deserved much more than just under 90 minutes. By the time the credits rolled, I wasn't ready to leave. Maggie's call for a sequel didn't fulfill my needs.

I didn't mind the story elements. Lisa is obviously a preachy environmentalist. Homer is clearly a misguided would-be do-gooder with negative results. The Flanders are still goody two-shoes. There were tips and nods to previous episodes for us die-hards. And trust me, I laughed - not as much as I did during the South Park movie a few years ago, but enough that I was happy I went.

Also - on the way home, Kristine and I stopped by the Kwik-E-Mart in Mountain View, in reality a converted 7-Eleven franchisee. While that was wonderfully amusing, it only struck home how we actually never saw the inside of the Kwik-E-Mart in the film. Seemed like a lost opportunity.

All in all, a great day. Great friends. Good fun. The completion of a much-anticipated dream, but one that left me wanting more. I may never be satisfied.