As a Generation Y-er I grew up with The Simpsons and was at about the perfect age to enjoy them at their peak during the mid-90s. Who of us born in the late 70s or early 80s could forget the musical version of Planet of the Apes (“Help me Dr Zeus!”), the ‘you don’t make friends with salad’ dance, almost anything involving Lionel Hutz (“Well, he's kind of had it in for me, since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace 'accidentally' with 'repeatedly', and replace 'dog' with 'son'.”) or the current affairs beat-up job when Homer is accused of grabbing his babysitters arse (“sweet… can”)?
When The Simpsons were good they were very, very good and when they were bad… well they were still kind of good.
The movie feels like watching three episodes back-to-back. Unfortunately it feels like watching three recent episodes back to back. Much like the last few series of the show the movie has occasional moments that reduced me to quivering laughter (most of the scenes with the pig are pretty a-dorable and there were a few other genuinely funny bits that made me laugh aloud) but the rest of it seemed to drag. The Homer-stuffs-up-but-eventually-proves-himself arc, for instance, seems like it’s been done more than once in the past 17 or 18 years. Similarly a few of the scenes feel more like giant winks to the audience than new material, which is vaguely patronising and frustrating for nerds like me who are way too familiar with the source material.
For me the main problem was that the movie has been so anticipated and has taken so long to get to this point that it also has a whiff of trying to please everybody and cover its bases. I know that, in theory, it’s a cartoon and intended for kids as well as adults, but I wish they had gone flat out for the Generation X/Y viewers who grew up with them and screwed the kids instead of trying to have it both ways. By way of comparison I thought the Family Guy movie was much funnier, perhaps partly because it was a much, much smaller offering and the series is young enough that it is still taking risks and trying new things. Maybe if The Simpsons Movie had gone down the same road and tried something a bit more ambitious or offbeat it would have been more interesting to watch.
Ah well at least we'll always have Bovine University.