For 18 years The Simpsons have been successfully putting the fun into dysfunction on our TV sets. On the big screen, however, the 'funk' comes across almost as strongly. It could be the pig poop that Homer fatefully dumps into Springfield's lake, or it could be the sweaty desperation of eleven writers (including series creator Matt Groening) all sat in a room, struggling to fill 90 minutes of Movie. Okay, so it's quite funny, but sometimes concentration drifts and - mmm, popcorn...
A looney, lunar-based Itchy & Scratchy skit opens the action and sets the tone for the 'end of the world' scenario - or the end of Springfield anyway. Ominous portents pile up, including a twisty-tailed pig that Homer adopts on impulse. Bart takes the latter a bit personally and looks to 'do-gooder-oodly' neighbour Ned Flanders for fatherly guidance. Frankly, for the first 20 minutes, the script is as scattered as Homer's brain cells. It's not until he pollutes the lake with the piggy's toxic plop that a race begins to save Springfield from disaster.
"THE CHARM IS IN THE FAMILIARITY"
Thank goodness the world can count on Homer's idiocy for a steady stream of laughs. This, combined with his total haplessness, wins you over - the bulging eyes of sudden realisation as he flips the fingers to an angry mob and becomes lodged halfway into an escape tunnel. Cutting edge animation isn't required; the charm is in the familiarity of these regular houseguests. In other ways too, silliness triumphs over sophistication. Take, for instance the lack of satirical bite, and the relegation of sneery Mr Burns, who only gets one chance to "release the hounds" before the story is overtaken by fuzzy family values. It appears that The Simpsons have turned a deeper shade of yellow. Still you can't help chuckle at a guy whose perpetually stuck in jam - mmm... donuts.
The Simpsons Movie is out in the UK on 25th July 2007.