Directed by: David Silverman
Starring: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardly Smith, Harry Shearer, Hank Azaria, Marcia Wallace, Tress MacNeille, Pamela Hayden
Released: July 26, 2007
Grade: A-

As I handed over my $8.50 and look at the ticket stub, the realisation sunk in.  After waiting 18 years, my favourite television show had made it to the big screen.  Walking into the packed theatre, I knew that others shared the same opinion.  There were excited murmurings and the occasional squeal as the opening credits started to roll.

It’s pointless describing the storyline because that is not why people will see this movie.  People will go because they want to laugh and be entertained.  If you’re a Simpsons fan, you’ll know exactly what type of humour is going to be offered.  Matt Groening and his writing team are experts at creating jokes at the expenses of others.  Over the 18 year run of the television show, there are very few places and people that haven’t poked fun at.

With so much hype, can this film possibly live up to expectations?  For the most part it does.  The opening half-hour is terrific.  Many regular characters are seen (although most only get a line or two) and there are plenty of “laugh out loud” moments.  I also enjoyed the jokes made about the movie itself.  The very first scene (which involves Itchy & Scratchy) is a perfect example.

Just like the television shows, a few big name celebrities make guest appearances.  I won’t spoil them but one I will mention is Albert Brooks.  Devout fans will remember Brooks’ voice from earlier Simpsons episodes – he played Hank Scorpio (one of my all-time favourite characters), Brad Goodman and Jacques (the bowling instructor who seduced Marge way back in the first season).  It’s great having him in the film.

Interestingly, the movie isn’t made using the same techniques as those on the smaller screen.  There’s a lot more computer animation and this has allowed scenes to be shot with increased detail.  In one particular scene, almost every resident of Springfield can be seen and made out.  Regardless of whether it was done by hand or with a computer, it must have taken a long time to put together.  Further enhancing the production, a blockbuster-like film score has been provided by top composer Hans Zimmer.

On its opening day in Australia, The Simpsons Movie took in the highest first-day total for an animated feature.  That’s not bad considering that it’s not even school holidays.  I’m expecting it to make a lot of money given its cross-generational appeal.  I wonder if it’ll be the adults dragging the kids to see it as opposed to the other way around.

My only criticism is that the film struggles to maintain its high standards in the final half-hour.  The film focuses a little too much on the bizarre plot.  Still, make sure you stay for the majority of the end credits.  I know you’ll want to get away from the annoying teenagers who have talked throughout the whole movie but there are a few more jokes to be enjoyed.

I’ll be up front and say that The Simpsons has defined me as a person.  My own sense of humour has evolved largely from watching it on television.  I can recite hundreds of lines and can remember almost every episode.  It’s amazing how many times I’ve been in a situation and then thought of a similar moment from the show.  Whilst this isn’t the “best movie ever” (in the words of the Comic Book Guy), it’s still pretty damn good.