PREVIEW: The Simpsons Movie

The Simpsons Movie is gonna rock — hard

By Stuart O'Connor
The blackboard gag near the start of the Simpsons Movie is: "I will not illegally download this movie." That's a sentiment shared by creator Matt Groening and exec producer Al Jean, who categorically state that they expect it to make a lot of money. They were in a London cinema last week to show 10 minutes of the film to journalists and answer a few questions. First up, let me just say that this movie — which Matt said they've been planning for since 1992 — is gonna rock so hard it'll make Uluru look like a pebble. There were more gags in those 10 minutes than you get in an average 90-minute comedy film these days. And they didn't show 10 minutes of clips that could have been the only funny 10 minutes in the whole thing; no, they showed us a 10 minute excerpt, connected scenes. And the audience was in fits, we're talking real belly-laughs here. It was brilliant. The footage itself was not film, it was video, with "Property of 20th Century Fox" written across the top. Al promised that wouldn't be on the final movie — which, he said, was only completed two weeks ago. When asked exactly what the film is about, Al said: "In one sense it's that a man should listen to his wife." Matt said: "It's a romantice movie. Homer falls in love with a pig." Hmmm. They also said that every character will be in the film, most of them getting at least one line, and it will open with and Itchy and Scratchy short. They also said the film can be watched and enjoyed by someone who has never seen The Simpsons before, but there are also plenty of in-jokes for the long-time fans. When asked if the film would upset people, Matt said they did set out to be controversial. "In America, there's someone willing to pretend to be offended by everything, and so we annoy people — and that's part of the appeal, to entertain people and also to annoy a certian segment of the audience as well." And with the main targets of the film appearing to be religion and environmentalism, it seems the Simpsons creators are happy to attack both sides.

OK, on to the footage itself. It opened with the traditional aerial sweep through Springfield (with a few surprises). Then it cuts to the Springfield Summer Concert, with Green Day playing from a barge on Lake Springfield. The song they're performing? The Simpsons theme. Lead singer Billie Joe then says: "We’ve been playing for three hours now and would like to say a few words about the environment." Um... bad move. The crowd starts booing and pelting them with rubbish. That, combined with the pollution in the lake, sees the barge disolve and sink. Green Day die. Cut to funeral at Springfield church. The music the organist is playing: American Idiot (Funeral Version). Big plot-setting scene involving the Simpsons arriving at the church and Grandpa throwing a fit and speaking in tongues, so that's all I'll say there. Marge askes Homer what's going on, so Homer grabs the Bible, flips through it and says: "This book doesn't have any answers!" After church they go for waffles on the way home. At the restaurant they all get out of the car. Except Grandpa (who's wrapped in a rug, from church...long story). He yells out, "Hey, I'm still in the car!" Homer comes back, opens the door, opens the window a crack, closes door, walks off...

Later on, back at home, Homer and Bart are doing some repairs. On the roof. They start playing "Dare". Hilarity ensues. A little later, back on the ground, Homer dares Bart to skateboard to Krusty Burger and back. Naked. And as you'd expect, Bart does. We get a scene similar to the opening credits of the show, but longer. And with Bart naked. And with his norti bits VERY cleverly hidden behind all sorts of objects as he skates past — except for when he goes behind a hedge, where all of him is hidden EXCEPT for his penis. I'm not kidding — full-frontal nudity in the Simpsons! And the bit that got the biggest laugh? As he skates along Bart passes little Ralph Wiggum, who declares: "I like men now." Man, the prudes are gonna have a field day with that.
The Simpsons Movie opens on July 26

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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