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Thursday, August 09, 2007


screenshot from the Simpsons movie

I actually saw this more than a week ago, but haven't had a chance to review it due to this TV movie production I'm involved in.

What can I say? The Simpsons Movie absolutely rocked. To me, this is the best movie of summer (... that's shown in Malaysia so far, I haven't seen Bourne Ultimatum, Ratatouille and Knocked Up)

I don't think there's a need to call myself a Simpsons fan. The TV show is a cultural phenomenon that has long become a part of many people's lives. To call myself a fan of the Simpsons is like calling myself... a fan of rice, or a fan of water, or a fan of the Internet.

I cannot even remember what life without Simpsons was like. I've been watching it since it was first aired in Malaysia (the first ever Simpsons episode I watched was SOME ENCHANTED EVENING), it was either 1990 or 1991, I continued watching it daily until I finished my postgrad filmmaking course in Perth last year.

I wasn't that excited about the movie, maybe because like most, I was blinded by the hype of the so-called 'Big Three' (Shrek 3, Spidey 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean 3), and then Transformers, so the Simpsons movie was more an afterthought. After all, a full-length film of Simpsons will probably be like, well, a Simpsons episode, but stretched into the length of three episodes. Can't be that special, right?

The Simpsons is like an old buddy you grew up with all your life, as you grow up, you'll meet all kinds of new, interesting and attractive people. For a while, these people may be the most appealing to you, you prefer hanging out with them, but ultimately, there's this sense of emptiness hanging out with these new friends, they are fun at times, but sometimes, they annoy you. And when you revisit your old lifelong friend, you just realize that he or she is always the best person to hang out with, maybe there are some minor flaws, but you are so used to it that it's not even an issue anymore.

That's why I absolutely loved The Simpsons movie, it's consistently entertaining throughout the film, there is not a single minute (of the film's entire 87-minute running time) when I felt bored or underwhelmed, a problem I suffered a lot from this year's summer blockbusters. The jokes were firing from all cylinders, subtle digs at pop culture and politics, silly slapstick humour, funny dialogue, toilet gags, there was something for everyone.

Underneath the humour, it's also a film with a heart. Ultimately the film works because we already know the characters so well. Being a Simpsons movie, it does focus more on the Simpsons family, while the rest of the citizens at Springfield are relegated to cameos, I didn't really mind that so much.

What was unexpected to me was the fact that I actually teared up during the heartbreaking Marge video scene (you'll know which one I'm talking about). I'm often cynical, and it's not something I've never seen before in countless other films and TV dramas, yet in this film, I am just amazed that a familiar scenario can cut so deep. Like I said, maybe I have known the characters too well.

People are often attached to the films of yesteryear, lauding the great filmmakers for their artistry and vision, for their influence and contribution, for the lack of compromise these artists have to make for commercialism. Hollywood is often viewed as evil, because films are made for money instead of art.

The debate of commercialism vs art often annoys me, because I generally do not care much for people who belong to both ends of the spectrum. (what? You really thought I was your generic artsy fartsy indie filmmaker who embraces all things non-mainstream?) You probably see me accuse an arthouse film for being 'pretentious, self-important and boring' just as much as I accuse a commercial film for being 'soulless, manufactured and stupid'.

And dammit, I'm just glad we have something like The Simpsons today.

Now, go Simpsonize yourself.

This is me, Simpsonized:

Now, a trailer of the movie: