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2006 films

The Simpsons Movie
a review by Tom Condon, OP

It’s hard to believe that Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie have been part of American pop culture for two decades now.  I admit that I have never been a regular viewer of the popular TV series.  However, I have watched it from time to time, and enjoyed the show, especially in its early years.  At its best, The Simpsons is as accurate a satire on all things American as anything in the entertainment media.

The Simpsons Movie is pretty much like watching an extended version of the series.  In the age of high-tech entertainment (even animated features are all computer generated), it’s refreshing to see the low-tech look of The Simpsons Movie, no different from the way it looks on TV.  The characters are still the same:  Homer is still dumb, Marge is loving and understanding, Bart is a smart-aleck, Lisa is the wisdom figure, and little Maggie observes everything, while sucking on her pacifier.  The film is cleverly written, as it satirizes everything from politics to religion to environmental issues.  I especially enjoyed its jabs at religion (which were never mean-spirited).  A minister tries to get the congregation involved in his sermon, correctly declaring “the Word of God dwells among you,” and encouraging someone to speak up.  No one dares with the exception of Grandpa who has either a religious experience or a seizure, depending on one’s point of view.  In the midst of Grandpa’s outburst, Homer picks up a Bible, desperately trying to decide what to do to assist Grandpa.  “This book doesn’t have any answers!”  Homer exclaims.  Moments like these should raise a chuckle among preachers and teachers everywhere.

The basic plot involves the isolation of the Simpsons’ home town of Springfield when Homer pollutes the lake with pig manure.  The movie scores a first in being the only movie I can recall in which the Environmental Protection Agency becomes the villain.  During the course of the movie, Marge threatens to leave Homer, Lisa finds a boyfriend, and Bart wants to be adopted by Ned Flanders, the annoyingly cheerful, religious man next door.  Bart actually finds them quite loving and caring, compared to his own dad, the idiotic, childish Homer. 

But, not to fear, the Simpsons actually save Springfield and remain intact as a family.  There’s something endearing in the fact that, as dysfunctional as they are, the Simpsons stay together, and, in their own way, care about each other, painfully aware of their own limitations.  There is something about their mutual acceptance and ability to live together that makes “normal” families seem hypocritical and dishonest.  There are no secrets or hidden agendas with Homer’s clan.

Yes, The Simpsons Movie is irreverent at times.  There’s an extended sequence in which Bart skateboards naked through town.  However, the film is not nearly as vulgar as many other entertainments today.  While it is clever satire, it’s never mean-spirited. 

While I’m not planning to become a regular viewer of the weekly series, I enjoyed The Simpsons Movie.  Itmade me laugh at myself and my culture.  I left the theater with a broad smile, renewed and ready to face the absurdities of the world.  Not a bad thing for a hot summer day!

Tom Condon, OP

Moments like these should raise a chuckle among preachers and teachers everywhere.

The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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