The Simpsons Movie

What Is It?

The TV series started in 1989 and is still on the air. The characters were actually invented for skits on the Tracey Ullman Show in 1987. This has been a long time coming. The dysfunctional yellow cartoon family, with heart, that started the Cartoons for adults (mostly watched by teens, then marketed to younger kids when their fan base wanes) craze that has given us Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim and direct rip offs like “Family Guy”.

How was it?

It was like a well done episode of the show. It did not just fill the time in the screen, but used the extra time and extra large screen to do more of “what ever a Simpson episode does.” The fact that it was a movie let them put in more crude things and more violence and socially unacceptable behavior than they seem to feel they can do on TV. For example, in the show there is an episode that deals with Homer doing drugs, in the movie there is a shot of the bus driver with a bong and there is no further comment. All in all this is just what I remember from the show in a bigger way. (The stuff with the punk band “Green Day” at the beginning is very clever.)

Was It Good For Kids?

While, it’s a cartoon with silly meal prize tie ins at fast food stores, the reality of it is, that the film was made for adults and older teens. There is a bedroom scene with Homer (Dan Castellanetaand) Marge  (Julie Kavner) being assisted by “Snow White” style animals, Bart Simpson (Nancy Cartwright) skateboards naked, there are gay police kissing, drug and alcohol use and misuse, lots of weapons, and references to anatomy. The popular cuss word is “God” and the tension of the final confrontation is broken by Marge (one of the two main characters we can respect) yelling G…D…. There is a lot presented as irony here that kids will pick up as suggestions.

Look at for a complete break down of the elements shown on the screen.

What about spiritual issues?

Oddly, there is only one reference to the Simpson’s sanctioned Buddhism, and it’s not even from Lisa (Yeardley Smith). Ned Flanders (Harry Shearer) is still the sole “Good Christian” (apparently, an average evangelical, until the writers are unsure of what an evangelical would do, then he’s a Catholic). He is actually the voice of reason and the example of true fatherhood throughout the film. However, that seems to just be an amusing coincidence. Young teen, Bart (Nancy Cartwright), gets drunk when he thinks that he prefers someone like Flanders over his cool, but clueless, Dad.

The Church scene is pivital. Homer states that it doesn’t matter that they are late to talk about this “phony bologna God”. While they are in church, Grandpa (also Dan Castellanetaand) is struck by a light from the window, and starts to give a wild prophesy, while falling on the ground and convulsing. When Marge tells Homer to help, Homer exclaims that he cannot because, “There aren’t any answers in this book!” Yes, he is holding the Bible. The joke here is not “Look how dumb Homer is, he thinks the Bible has no answers and that God is not real.” The joke is “Look how dumb Homer is, he doesn’t know that you are not supposed to admit those things in church.”

I very much dispise this view of the church (particularty when I see it in the church itself). The Bible is useless but someone’s personal religious experience is “right” or “real”. In actuality, any experience we have should be checked against the Bible for interpretation, not the other way around. 2 Timothy 3:16 Romans 3:4

And just in case you get confused and think that despite the Bible slam, Grampa’s prophesy makes this film Pro-God, Homer is later rescued by a large chested Medicine woman (Tress MacNeille), who aids him with his self revelation, through mysticism.

What is your recommendation?

This is a funny movie with some good ideas and a lot of bad ones.

Though, I must say that I was fairly warned. The movie opens with Homer Simpson rebuking the viewing audience with the words, “If you ask me, everybody in this theater is a giant sucker! Especially you!”

Who am I to argue with the experts?


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