After years of speculation and anticipation, one of the most successful TV families of all time finally arrives on the big screen with “The Simpsons Movie.”
And while there is no way that the beloved series could have possibly lived up to the hype created by its loyal fan base, this is still a solid venture onto the big screen, full of the humor and satire that has made the series such a success.
The plot of “The Simpsons Movie” is simple - Homer mistakenly pollutes Springfield's river after dumping pig waste into the water. The pollution sets off a chain reaction of events, leading to the city being encased in a glass dome by the Environmental Protection Agency. Homer and his family set out on a quest to save Springfield from ultimate destruction.
The story is simple, but it's the perfect avenue for the cast of characters that have spent the last 18 years on the small screen. There is a sense of familiarity in watching “The Simpsons” that just makes it that much more enjoyable.
Springfield looks just as splendid on the big screen, even if some supporting characters get very little or no screen time (although I'll concede that it is impossible to get 18 years worth of characters crammed into a 90-minute feature film).
The screenplay is pretty sharp and full of the biting satire and humor that has made the TV series such a success (an amazing feat, given the fact that 15 people are given some sort of writing credit).
I'm not sure if this film will draw that many new fans, but the millions who can't get enough of Homer, Bart, Marge, Maggie and Lisa in first-run or syndication will surely be pleased with this latest venture.
Here's hoping that it doesn't take another 18 years for the Simpsons to return to the big screen.
DVD dandy of the week
This week's dandy is “Disturbia” (B-), which isn't going to win any prizes for originality, but the new teen thriller understands its genre quite well, providing a solid film with some tense, creepy moments delivered in a straightforward manner.
“Disturbia” tells the story of Kale (Shia LaBeouf), a teen living under house arrest who becomes the neighborhood voyeur to pass time.
Kale takes the most interest in a couple of neighbors. One is a teenage girl named Ashley (Sarah Roemer), who just moved in next door. The other is a creepy older man (David Morse), who Kale begins to suspect is a serial killer.
Christopher B. Landon and Carl Ellsworth's script is a clever teen version of the Alfred Hitchcock classic “Rear Window.” The story doesn't rely on cheap gore and horror movie clichés - it takes its time, which heightens the tension. It's such a slow build that “Disturbia” doesn't even get into the subplot involving Morse until a third of the way in.
Director D.J. Caruso (who also directed the silly 2004 Angelina Jolie thriller “Taking Lives”) does a much better job here, using the voyeurism to his advantage.
“Disturbia” is also aided by a capable cast. LaBeouf (who is now a household name after “Transformers”) continues to build a solid career and Roemer is a definite keeper as the object of Kale's affections.
Morse is effectively creepy and Carrie Anne Moss is also good as Dale's mom.
“Disturbia” is fairly predictable - especially if you're a Hitchcock fan - but it's still an amiable experience.