They call it ‘Special Stuff’ on the menu, but the grab-bag of odds ‘n’ sods occupying one corner of this disappointingly sparse DVD is little to text home about: Homer on The Late Show, an American Idol skit… seriously, you’ll get more guffaws re-viewing the tack-sharp trailer campaign, from the CGI-ribbing teaser – this is a 2D ’toon and proud of it – to the longer promo that misleads (as the makers sheepishly admit) with apoca-shocker shots of mass missiles.
Don’t be deceived: despite the wider screen, Hans Zimmer’s drama-amping score and Bart getting his chipolata out, The Simpsons Movie doesn’t have ideas above its (TV) station. It is, as the backlashers keep bleating, just an extended episode of the 17-year-old show. Yeah… and? If it ain’t, you know, broke… Sticking with the tried and true, the film shoves Homer up front, the Springfield-in-jeopardy plot spiralling from his lax attitude to pigshit disposal. Watching Simpson Snr screw up is a spectacle that never stales; rising to fame under Bush I’s reign, his environmentally unconscious idiocy seems more relevant than ever in the age of Dubya.
The filmmakers grind their eco-axe with the same lack of strain that they pump out the sight gags and satirical jabs (Disney, Schwarzenegger and governmental incompetence all cop it). Pacey and (virtually) filler-free, it all seems so effortless. The commentaries tell a different story, though. Gathering such Simpsons vets as Matt Groening, James L Brooks and Dan Castellaneta, the group yak candidly over the rewrites, test screenings and hand-wringing it took to get the film in the can. “The movie was very coarse in its first incarnation,” we hear, compounding irritation at the paucity of chopped material. (C’mon… there must be reels of it lying around!) It’s especially poor next to the bounty usually bundled with the series boxsets. Happy days, then, that the main feature plays like a triple-hit of the show in its prime: irreverent, rapid-fire and soil-yourself funny. Eminently freeze-framable, too. DVD! Woo-hoo!