It has been years since I watched The Simpsons regularly on television. Something about that oddball family has entertained audiences worldwide for almost two decades. It is the combination of the slapstick and the absurd irreverently satirizing elements of modern life which has made the series so successful and popular. And the animation not only enables comic timing to be manipulated like jelly but allows us a certain comfortable distance. You'd be disturbed if you saw a real father choke his son as Homer does Bart. But it's just a cartoon, right?
In "The Simpsons Movie," Homer saves an innocent pig from slaughter and brings it home. To the dismay of the other family members, the pig becomes a strange object of affection. Homer's obsession with the pig results in him dumping an overflowing silo of pig poop into Springfield's already toxic lake. The resulting environmental catastrophe leads President Schwarzenegger and the Environmental Protection Agency to enclose Springfield in a glass dome. Fleeing from an angry mob of Springfield residents, the Simpsons manage to find an escape route out of the town. Homer convinces the family to start a new life in Alaska, but Marge and the kids go back when they learn of plans to destroy Springfield and turn it into another Grand Canyon. Homer's subsequent physical and spiritual search for his family leads him right back to Springfield.
The plot is simple. The Simpsons' moments, however, are plentiful. As in the TV series, nothing is too sacred. The movie makes fun of the government and the green movement, predictably, but also of the audience for paying for something they can get on TV and of Twentieth Century Fox, which distributed the film, for advertising its own TV shows during the movie. "The Simpsons Movie" isn't brilliant. But that may simply be because we have gotten used to a brilliant show over the years, and there is perhaps only so far you can push a concept. But it does provide what The Simpsons fans have come to expect, which is their favorite underachiever Homer Simpson and his family in some outrageously funny situations.