No d’oh!

Jordan Canning says the The Simpsons leap to the big screen was a success.

A good TV show doesn’t necessarily make a good movie. Just look at The Flintstones.

Filmmakers are faced with the challenge of transforming something that was already successful on the small screen into something new and original on the big screen, without betraying the elements that make the show great.

The creators of The Simpsons Movie managed to navigate this terrain with finesse. After nearly two decades of crafting the TV show into the tour-de-force it’s become, they have a pretty good idea of what works.

So what we get with the film is, essentially, one long and extremely well crafted episode.

The story is a familiar one. Homer screws up, loses Marge’s trust, and has to win her back by cleaning up his mess and, ostensibly, learning a lesson in the end.

But this time his screw-up reaches epic proportions. He single-handedly brings about an environmental catastrophe in Springfield, resulting in the town being enclosed in a giant glass dome. After being chased by an angry mob, fleeing to Alaska, and losing everything that’s important to him, Homer – as only Homer can – must rescue the town from obliteration and save the day.
You can expect the same high comedic standards as on the show. The story is as tight as can be, and the jokes smart and constant. There are a lot of snort-out-loud moments, including a particularly hilarious skateboarding sequence which, I believe, marks the first frontal nudity milestone for the show.

One notable difference from the TV show is the movie’s cinematic style. Complex camera moves and sprawling crowd scenes with hundreds of characters make the entire experience more filmic, and Hans Zimmer’s larger-than-life score definitely helps with the show’s leap to the big screen.

There are the same characters we know and love, but the ante is upped. Homer is at his most inept, Marge her most anxious, and Lisa her most passionate. We do get to see a softer and more vulnerable side to Bart, who turns to Ned Flanders for fatherly affection after Homer starts spending all his time with a pig he saved from Krusty Burger.

For big fans of the secondary characters, you may be a little disappointed. This movie is about the Simpsons family, so the other idiosyncratic inhabitants of Springfield don’t get as much screen time as some might hope.

But fear not. Though they may be peripheral, they still manage to steal some scenes. Flanders has some real gems in there, as do Ralph and Chief Wiggum. And there is a seriously satisfying redemption scene where Martin Prince finally gets his revenge on the bullies who’ve tormented him for nearly 19 years.

Matt Groening said they tried to put every single character into the film, and I have no doubt that there are already extreme fans downloading the film and scanning the crowd scenes for Rabbi Krustofski, Dr. Marvin Monroe and Disco Stu. But trust me, they’re in there.

In the end, there are no real surprises. But that’s okay. The Simpsons Movie, in a lot of ways, is as good as The Simpsons get, and I enjoyed this from start to finish. If you’re a fan of the show, the movie won’t let you down. If you’re not a fan… well, maybe funny just isn’t your thing.

You can catch The Simpsons Movie at…

Empire Studio 12, Avalon Mall. Call 722-5775 for times & prices, or check the website for details.

Empire Cinema, Mount Pearl Shopping Centre. Call 364-8527 for times & prices or check the website for details.