Though I didn't get in on the ground floor of the Simpsons whilst on the Tracy Ullman show, I've been around the block surrounding Evergreen Terrace enough to have stuck by them for more than a decade and counting. I'll also confess some anxiety that once a movie is made, the show quality would suffer. While I may not be marking the film as one of the year's top three films, it was worth catching on opening night regardless.
Lake Springfield is getting more and more polluted, to the point Mayor Quimby is forced to close it. Homer gets himself a pet pig, a leftover prop from a Krusty Burger promo, but fails to property dispose of the pig poop -- instead stores it in a homemade silo. Marge tells him to deal with disposal of the silo, and Homer and his pig (Spider-Pig turned Harry Plopper pig) drive the silo to the lake and dump it, vastly worsening the pollution problem.
U.S. President Schwarzenegger chooses Plan 3 from the Environmental Protection Agency without reading it, and they drop a giant dome over Springfield, cutting them off from the world and erasing it from maps and GPS systems. The citizens go after the Simpsons, and America's longest cartoon family is on the run.
Admittedly, there's not a deep reach into the plot barrel, but it's the Simpsons, and while such ventures are welcome, it's not always required. The ability to tie in timely and long-standing references often buoys the show -- and the film -- above the routine and into the sublime: Green Day doing a concert on Lake Springfield early on, and the barge sinking; the band shifts gears and you think you're watching the sinking of the "Titanic." References to Harry Potter with the pig, Spider-Man, and various other nuggets of clever writing throughout. (The Duff blimp overhead, briefly, encouraging you to "binge responsibility.") All part of the rich tapestry of an 86 minute-long version of the TV show.
And yes, we open with Homer commenting to his family, whilst sitting in the Aztec move theatre, about why they're watching a film in the theatres they could see at home for free (only difference is, they were watching an Itchy and Scratchy flick).
Is the film something I could see eroding away at the show's popularity or longevity? Nope. Was it a tour de force that would put it into IMDB or the American Film Institute's top 100 films of all-time? Probably not. But it's the Simpsons in all of their irreverent humor -- heck, they even tell you that much in the PG-13 rating description. (And rare for Marge and not to be found on TV, she even utters what many could deem a profanity... oh Margie, we hardly know thee.)
Well worth a visit to the theatre for even the casual fan, maybe even twice to catch some of the subtle details tucked into the peripheral background scenes. And as a special treat for sticking around during credits, Maggie speaks a single word... and it's not "daddy," as it was when Elizabeth Taylor voiced the baby's first word.