Saturday, March 25, 2006


Doh! The Simpsons Becomes a Movie!

Following the lead of such animated television shows as The Flintstones, Rugrats, South Park, and Scooby Doo, The Simpsons -- the longest running animated series in the history of primetime TV (an incredible 17 years and counting!) -- will soon become a feature film. In an interview with BBC Radio, Nancy Cartwright, (who provides the voice of Bart Simpson) confirmed the long-standing rumors about a feature version of the show, and was quoted as saying, "We've just done the table read for The Simpsons movie, so although we've been promoting that we're going to do it, now we're actually doing it and are in production." The Simpsons, which, as most know, began life as an animated short on The Tracey Ullman Show, has long been known for its predilection for pop culture references and ability to attract the Hollywood's A-list as guest voiceovers. One presumes the feature version will have heaping amounts of both (and you can expect Homer's expletives to be more than just "Doh!"). The writers of the series clearly love cinema. Check out this list of just some of the movies the long-running series has referenced over the years: 2001 - A Space Odyssey, The Amityville Horror, All the President's Men, Animal House, Basic Instinct, Batman, Ben Hur, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Braveheart, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Cannonball Run, Cape Fear, Citizen Kane, A Clockwork Orange, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Deer Hunter, Deliverance, Dr. Strangelove, The Empire Strikes Back, The Exorcist, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Fly, Frankenstein, Free Willie, The Fugitive, Full Metal Jacket, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Gone with the Wind, The Graduate, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Lethal Weapon, The Lion King, Mary Poppins, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Odd Couple, The Omega Man, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Patton, The Planet of the Apes, Poltergeist, Pulp Fiction, Raging Bull, Rain Man, Resevoir Dogs, The Road Warrior, The Shining, Shortcuts, Sliver, Soylent Green, Star Trek, Star Wars, A Streetcar Named Desire, Taxi Driver, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Ten Commandments, Terminator 2, Thelma and Louise, Titanic, West World, and The Wild One. News of the movie version (which could hit theaters as early as this summer) comes as the TV series prepares to unveil a live action version of its famous weekly pre-title segment (in which all the members of the Simpson family crowd onto the couch to watch TV). The question here of course is whether the half hour sitcom can sustain the length of a feature film without feeling too thin. Some have accomplished this successfully (South Park, Rugrats), others not so well (The Flintstones, Scooby Doo). Still, one has to imagine that a team which has kept the series consistently hilarious for nearly two decade will be able to make the transition to the big screen with its integrity intact. No doubt, like the self-reflexive South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, The Simpsons feature will play into the fact that it's a movie, with references and laughs comparable to its now much larger size.

I don't know about you but it seems to me that it just isn't the same comedy it was circa season 14. The sharp satire and cleverly subtle jokes were replaced with more shocking topics and un-Simpsons like gaggery. Whether this occurred because of the transition of focus from Simpsons to Futurama I don't know. I just hope that this does not translate over to the big screen.
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