Good Lord, this movie stinks.

I had high hopes for The Simpson’s Movie, and, indeed, it begins on a high note, with a great Itchy & Scratchy sequence that ends with Scratchy eating hundreds of nuclear warheads. Hah! Then the camera pans back to reveal we’re watching a movie, where Homer Simpson stands and berates the audience for paying money to see a show they’re already getting on television for free. Haha…more funny.

Homer wasn’t kidding. The jokes in this movie are good for about, oh, 20 minutes. Twenty minutes, the length of one decent TV. Then the writers lose any sense of creativity or wit, and plod along for two unbearably dull hours. The Simpson’s Movie is such a slave to Hollywood formula that I was looking behind my couch for a paperback copy of “Screenwriting 101.”

Do I really have to write more? I don’t feel like it. You’ve had more than enough time to see this movie if you’re so inclined. I’m really the last one to the party. I think the problem here is the same as the TV show: The Simpson’s has run out of gas. After 25 years on the air, every conceivable joke, story, and scenario has been played out a dozen different ways. The series is now reduced to the level of a simple gag show that sputters through tired routines and worn jokes, and has been so for years.

There’s no reason why a Simpson’s Movie couldn’t be clever, witty, biting, recapture some of that old magic. I could imagine a wacky comedy like one of Mel Brooks’ classic films — Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Spaceballs — or any number of screwball farces. No such luck. What’s here is just a standard-issue formula picture that has been used on about a billion summer blockbusters.

About the only good thing to come out of this movie is the animation, which is much fuller than on TV. The production team definitely put a priority on animating The Simpsons as they never could on the small screen. For the most part, it works very well. They didn’t turn this movie into an overdrawn Disney cartoon, but augment the in-between animations whenever necessary.  Everything looks very nice, if still a bit bland, but that’s largely due to the art design of the series itself, and it’s far too late to do anything about that now.

The second half barely had any good jokes, aside from the very rare punch line. I just didn’t care. Why should I care about some serious plot (Springfield sealed off from the outside world), especially when these “plots” have been played out a dozen times on the idiot box? Why am I supposed to care? Homer is impulsive and dumb? He’s an inattentive father and husband? Springfield is going to be destroyed? Matt Groening and his writers had years to write a decent script; in the end, they just recycled the leftovers of leftovers.

Other bad choices: why is Bart suddenly drinking hard alcohol in the middle of the picture? When did he start doing that? And why did he suddenly stop five minutes later? What’s the deal with that?  And why the need to show “adult” content that couldn’t get past the censors? This is another bad cliche of television-to-film adaptations. Homer shouldn’t flip the bird, and Marge shouldn’t swear; it doesn’t fit their characters. The scene where Bart is buck naked is well-known, but the writers forgot that what makes those kind of scenes funny (the opening to Austin Powers being the prime example). Not flashing the audience is the key to the joke. Show everything and the comedy is lost. But, let’s be honest, the comedy has been missing on The Simpsons for years. Going the Full Monty is all they have left.

This movie ruins a lot of jokes. Most everything in the script is just one simple throwaway line after another, all subservient to that damned stupid plot. Spider Pig was funny, yes. Hearing the Spider Pig song for the third time: not funny.

Seriously, people, lose the Screenwriter’s Handbook. I was always skeptical of the idea of a Simpson’s Movie, but I still wanted to discover a good movie. When you think of the heights reached by this series in its 1990s Golden Age, your heart just breaks. I’ve seen washed-up rock bands age more gracefully than this. This is a major disappointment.

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