After 18 years and 400 episodes, "The Simpsons" TV series finally makes it to the big screen. The good news is that, for the most part, the show's goofball edginess is transferred intact. Homer may be a movie star now, but he's as oblivious as ever.
No doubt this is the first movie ever made – animated or otherwise – that centers on a leaky silo of pig poo. It seems that Homer's pet porker – whom he first names Spider Pig before switching to Harry Plopper – has been rather productive. When Homer dumps the droppings into Springfield's biggest lake, he creates an econightmare that incurs the wrath of the Environmental Protection Agency, which encloses the community in a shatterproof dome. The Simpsons are forced into exile – to Alaska no less, where "you can never be too fat or too drunk."
Many of the "Simpsons" creative team past and present had a hand in the movie, which explains its tonal affinity to the TV series. (The director was David Silverman and creator Matt Groening is one of the producers). There are reportedly 98 speaking parts, which means that just about every character who has ever had a stint on TV gets a spot in the movie. And yet it never feels overextended. The filmmakers have made the wise decision to treat "The Simpsons Movie" as simply a bigger version of the TV show.
There is, perhaps, a greater focus here on the current political scene, but the jibes are mild. The EPA honcho (voiced by Albert Brooks) is a generic government bad guy, and, in a rather tired take-off, the president of the United States is Arnold Schwarzenegger (voiced by Harry Shearer).
Lisa Simpson, the family's do-gooder daughter, creates her version of "An Inconvenient Truth" – it's called "An Irritable Truth" – but again, the barbs are blunted.
The movie is best when it just riffs on our compacted memories of the past 18 years of episodes. Fortunately, that's most of the time. Grade: A–
• "The Simpsons Movie" is rated PG-13 for irreverent humor.