Movie Reviews: 'The Simpsons Movie'

Film critics are of two minds about The Simpsons Movie. Sure, it's funny, most of them agree, as funny as the best episodes of the TV Simpsons. But, they seem to ask, as if the voice of Peggy Lee were playing in their minds, "Is that all there is?" Roger Ebert puts it this way in the Chicago Sun-Times: "The most unexpected thing about The Simpsons Movie is that although it expands its view to include panoramic Alaskan vistas and a more panoptic view of Springfield than we've seen, it doesn't push the boundaries of the TV show in a narrative sense.

Unlike South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut, The Simpsons Movie doesn't venture anything more transgressive than it usually does; it doesn't take the gloves off." Kyle Smith in the New York Post similarly suggests that the movie version "takes no chances," then asks, "Why is it worth $11? Because a supersized Simpsons episode is funnier than 90 percent of movie comedies." A.O. Scott concludes his review in the New York Times by remarking, "Ten or 15 years ago, The Simpsons Movie ... might have felt riskier and wilder. But The Simpsons, for all its mischief and iconoclasm, has become an institution, and that status has kept this film from taking too many chances. Why mess with the formula when you can extend the brand? Do I sound disappointed? I'm not, really. Or only a little. The Simpsons Movie, in the end, is as good as an average episode of The Simpsons. In other words, I'd be willing to watch it only -- excuse me while I crunch some numbers here -- 20 or 30 more times." Geoff Pevere in the Toronto Star actually applauds the movie's producers for sticking with the tried and true. He writes: "The Simpsons Movie couldn't give a doodle in a doughnut hole about expectations anyway. It may deliver what we've already got, but it leaves no doubt why we got it in the first place." And Liam Lacey in the Toronto Globe and Mail concedes that he feels ambivalent about the movie. "It's often clever and silly, but rarely inspired and there is nothing remotely necessary about it," he comments. Yet, on the other hand, he says, "This isn't supposed to be a typical contemporary family movie, in which the narrative serves as the centre of a cross-promotional campaign with TV, theme park, fast food and toy corporations. This is The Simpsons which, with its first big-screen effort, is underachieving and proud of it, man."

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