The Simpsons Movie
The Simpsons have been on TV for eighteen years—the second-longest running primetime program behind 60 Minutes. So unless you've been in the Peace Corps for a good chunk of that time or simply don't watch any television, you probably already have an opinion about America's favorite animated family.
The show's creators know this, and, in a stroke of genius, use it to their advantage in the uproariously funny self-aware opening to The Simpsons Movie. Let's face it. Most television shows don't translate well to the big screen, and that's especially true for 15- or 30-minute cartoons that don't have the depth or nuance to expand into feature length. But The Simpsons, with its broad range of slapstick and satire, effortlessly stretches to four times the usual length of a 22-minute episode, yielding one of the most successful television-to-cinema transplants I've ever seen: "Best … feature-length … episode … ever."
OK, as a fan who knows most every episode forward and backward, I admit I'm a bit biased. Since the show's start during my high school years, The Simpsons played a formative role in developing my sense of humor (for better or worse). And while I never tire watching the classic episodes, I've grown disenchanted with the show in recent years, which I attribute to changes in the writing staff.
If you agree that The Simpsons has soured somewhat over the last five years, fear not. The Simpsons Movie reunites several of the veterans responsible for the golden age of the series, including creator Matt Groening, director David Silverman (Monsters, Inc.), and contributing writers James L. Brooks, Al Jean, John Swartzwelder, David Mirkin, Ian-Maxtone-Graham, among others—eleven writers, four consultants, and five producers total (with some overlap). The film recaptures the glory days of the series, confirming that changes in the guard have undermined its quality over the last decade. Suffice to say, fans will love it.
The plot has been kept secret more tightly than Harry Potter's final book, and rightfully so. Like most episodes, the less you know, the funnier it is—especially since a Simpsons plot is usually like traveling from Missouri to Illinois by way of Alaska and a slight detour to Bolivia. Let's just say this much: The story begins at church when Grampa Simpson supposedly has a "holy moment" and begins speaking, shall we say, "charismatically." Marge (Julie Kavner) and others deem his words a prophecy of doom for Springfield. Later, Homer (Dan Castellaneta) saves a pig from slaughter, adopts it as a pet, and stores its waste in a homemade backyard silo. When Marge tells him to get rid of the porcine poop, Homer, distracted by a local donut give-away, hastily dumps the swine slime in the wrong place, creating an environmental catastrophe that threatens the future of Springfield, as well as his marriage and the respect of his children Bart (Nancy Cartwright), Lisa (Yeardley Smith), and baby Maggie. And that's just the first 20 minutes.