Let me preface this by noting that The Simpsons held a pretty prominent place in my childhood, rearing, and subsequent sense of humor formation like so many children of the 80’s can claim. I’m not sure exactly where I fall on the scale of Simpsons obsession, but I can say that I’ve considered this venerable TV show as a third parent to me for as long as I can remember. Indeed, I credit this cartoon program with the none too small accomplishment of affecting more than anything else the formation of my young mind and its resulting comedic outlook. I remember watching the very first episode at its original air time with my whole family in the living room of my childhood home. At the time I was probably more aware that it was cool to be allowed to watch such a show, rather than realizing how culturally and personally relevant this little sitcom could potentially be. As time passed, The Simpsons quickly became the favorite show of my little brother and I, and due to the wonders that were VCR’s at the time, we pretty much viewed nothing but during our time as latchkey kids. Later on in high school, me and the hip crowd I hung with (Laura included) would every day at lunch discuss the previous evening’s episodes, as the show was airing twice a night at that point. This hilarity-driven revelry was another important influence for my budding young mind. Somehow, as a mash up of life experiences such as these, I became what some people might call “Funny.” “Ha ha funny,” not “There’s something not quite right about that Liz” funny.
Anyway, there’s a much-noted shifting point in the comedic styling of America’s favorite off-kilter family, and I am certainly among the many who claim that The Simpsons went notably downhill ‘round about its eighth season. Indiscernible to the devoted every-week watcher, the writing over time changed from astoundingly witty banter coupled with unexpected relevancy, to downright lowbrow shock humor. Our uproarious yet culturally informed masterpieces, involving high-brow type stuff (“A Street Car Named Marge,” “Rosebud”) at some crucial point made way for sickening repeat obsession with gags such as “Ha ha, Homer’s really fat/stupid/a shitty husband” or “Look, the Simpsons are in another wacky location for some lame-ass reason.” This can all perhaps be blamed on the many shifts in writing talents, or simply the exhaustion of ideas and places to take this well-crafted town and its cornucopia of citizenry. Also, once you’ve gotten past the ever-important character development stage and then celebration of that character as the world loves him/her, our beloved heroes are eventually and perhaps unavoidably living as a factor of their own clichéd image. My best bet is that it’s somewhat impossible to have any cast of characters break comedic boundaries and continue to spit out the witty exchanges for a hundred gazillion seasons without faltering at least slightly.
Phew. All that said, I still managed to become a part of the recent Simpsons craze that has swept NYC and I imagine the rest of the country, if not globe. My little bro and I visited the 7-Eleven turned Kwik-E-Mart (they did NOT have Duff Beer!), and I was in attendance on the movie’s opening night. Hey folks, I was curious, and certainly don’t like to be a Negative Nelly. So finally for my assessment of the film…it was OK. The movie definitely embodied exactly what I’ve been complaining about for years, but at the same time it wasn’t nearly as crappy as it could have been. The plotline, actions and dialogue were unquestionably comparable to the “Meh” episodes of recent seasons past, but the writers did not take the material so far in the direction of my distaste so as to trigger my gag reflex. What resulted was not a sad culmination of all which I had found to be unpleasant about my once favorite TV show, but rather achieved the simple pleasure to be gained from sitting in a theatre for two hours and being entertained. I definitely laughed aloud on more than one occasion. So while I was not taken to new heights of comedic ecstasy with mind-blowingly clever humor, I still attended and enjoyed a good motion picture. And hey, if The Simpsons Movie had somehow hearkened back to its former mastery and created a feature-length cartoon film that broke new ground and shattered my expectations, I might not know who I was anymore.
Favorite Simpsons Exchanges (taken from memory)
Marge: There’s something different about Bart today
Homer: New glasses?
Marge: No, I mean he looks upset.
Homer: Probably misses his old glasses
Marge: I’d say something, but I’d be afraid of smothering him.
Homer: Yeah, and then you’d get the chair.
Marge: That’s not what I meant.
Homer: Face it Marge, it was.
Bee Keeper #1: It sure is quiet today.
Bee Keeper #2: A little too quiet, if you know what I mean.
Bee Keeper #1: I’m afraid I don’t.
Bee Keeper #2: You see, bees usually emit a low buzzing sound. No noise indicates no bees.
Bee Keeper #1: Look, there goes one now.
Bee Keeper #2: To the Beemobile!
Bee Keeper #1: You mean your Chevy?
Bee Keeper #2: Yes.