The Simpsons has been on television long enough for me to have watched the show, not watched the show, started watching again, watched religiously, stopped watching, watched again on DVD and then thought about watching again. It has become a television institution and miraculously hasn’t really jumped the shark.

Some feared it would do this with the movie (that many felt was long overdue), but the Simpsons have proved to be a cultural hit even today. After all, the movie has made more than half a billion dollars and been nominated for a Golden Globe.

So is it as good as they say? Yes and no. To a certain degree, it is just one long, extended television episode. But the writing of the episodes are so brilliant that the big-screen version simply lives up to the show’s name.

In the movie, Homer accidentally over-pollutes Springfield’s lake by dumping a silo of pig sewage so he can score some free donuts. (No kidding, this is actually the plot.) President Schwarzenegger gives carte blanche to the E.P.A. to shut down Springfield, and they cap off the city in a plastic dome. At first America’s favorite cartoon family flees to Alaska but soon realizes that they must save Springfield.

While the movie is very much an extended, 90-minute television episodes, it offers some extras. First, you get to hear the Simpsons being a little more blue than you’d see, even on FOX. There’s more swearing, a few hand gestures, some gay jokes and a gratuitous show of Bart’s “doodle.”

The characters don’t necessarily grow (although you’re lead to believe they might), but that’s actually a good thing. Giving more depth and love to the Simpsons would be the kiss of death. What makes this a great series is the deplorable nature they all seem to have. Sure, they love each other, but we don’t need an intervention. It’s worked for almost 20 years, and for the most part, they’ve emerged from a big-budget feature film unscathed.

The DVD has a nice selection of special features, leading off with two commentary tracks. There’s also several deleted scenes that are actually funny to watch, a boat-load of trailers, Homer’s monologue on The Tonight Show, two American Idol plugs from Homer and a hysterical destruction of the “Let’s Go to the Lobby” song courtesy of – you guessed it – Homer Simpson.

Grade: B-

The Upside: The Simpsons are still popular after all these years.

The Downside: There’s a bit of preaching, but they knew that from the beginning.

On the Side: The Simpsons series is older than Bart, Lisa and Maggie combined.

Release Date: December 18, 2007
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 87 minutes
Number of Discs: 1
Cast: Dan Castellaneta
Studio: 20th Century Fox

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