The long awaited adaptation delivers with style and sentiment
Very few if any truly beloved sitcoms are ever adapted for the big screen, mainly because the premise is less of a draw than the characters you have such a longstanding sentimental attachment to, and a movie only really works for those waiting to see some of these old friends once more. The Simpsons movie works on this basis because while the show is still running, it’s generally agreed that it has long since past it’s best days and the movie manages to recapture some of the faded magic that’s been absent for so long. The movie also succeeds in offering an enjoyable experience for even those unfamiliar with the series (whoever that is) with great humor, a fresh story and beautiful animation resulting in a hilarious family friendly blockbuster that serves as a fitting culmination of the many years of effort it took to bring the film to fruition.
Considering the vast cavalcade of characters in the series, it’s a delight for fans to see so many of them here, (with a few egregious exceptions in the form of series regulars like Kelsey Grammer and Jon Lovitz) especially Simpsons luminary Albert Brooks, who gets a considerable amount of screentime to wreak his personal brand of zany antics. All of those numerous tertiary characters who fill out the yellow universe play a part, most manage to get a good line or two while those who don’t at least make an appearance, and only the most devoted Simpsons aficionado would be able to spot discrepancies. The writing is solid throughout, and in a show which often gets wildly off base, also remains tight. This was most likely the result of having such a belated production with so many rewrites and scrutiny in the all stars writing room (which is something of an emulation of the way older seasons were written) and the laborious conception really pays off in this respect.
The Simpson family stays true to character, while the veteran voice cast brings the quality voice acting they are known for to the big screen. Especially noteworthy is Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson) who succeeds in creating some real pathos in her scenes, and making me feel any sentiment in such an admittedly wrote “Homer and Marge are breaking up” plotline is commendable. The scene in which Marge leaves a heartbreaking recording for Homer is the most touching in the movie, Kavner recorded in excess of 100 takes and the pain in her voice really shows through. Even Lisa acts like the young girl she is and takes a break from being the nagging voice of reason, at least for a while.
While there is very little to dislike, inevitably the movie can’t quite reach the highs of older episodes and the ruthless editing means that the runtime is simply too short to really provide the best experience possible. Despite the leanness, the Simpsons movie is pleasing for diehard and casual fans alike and is probably about as good as it could be. With such a dedicated following fans are hard to please, but as long as you are prepared to take the film for what it is, you have an enjoyable tribute to the series.