The Longest Daycare
|The Longest Daycare|
Poster for the short film
|Directed by||David Silverman|
|Produced by||James L. Brooks
|Written by||James L. Brooks
Joel H. Cohen
|Music by||Hans Zimmer
James Dooley (additional music)
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox
The Longest Daycare is a 2012 American traditionally-animated 3D short film starring Maggie Simpson from The Simpsons, which was shown prior to screenings of Ice Age: Continental Drift, on July 13, 2012, in the United States. The film is the second Simpsons theatrical release. Reception has been positive, praising the storytelling and graphics.
Marge Simpson drops off Maggie at the Ayn Rand School for Tots, where, after going through a security screening, she is classified as being of "average intelligence", upon which a guard carries her past the "Room for Gifted Babies" and puts her in the "Nothing Special" dreary corner. The playtime items are either taken away or eaten by the other babies. A butterfly then makes its way into the room as Maggie's nemesis, Baby Gerald, squashes it on the wall with a mallet and draws a box around it with a crayon. A second butterfly also meets the same fate. Maggie finds a caterpillar and a pop-up book about the life cycle of the butterfly. Realizing that the caterpillar could also meet the fate of the first two butterflies, she tries to protect it from Gerald. The caterpillar later encases itself in a chrysalis and starts to transform. Once the newly formed butterfly emerges, Maggie tries to help it fly out of the window, but Gerald kills it by shutting the blinds on it as it attempts to pass through. Maggie acts as if it was the worst thing she has ever seen and mourns as she falls to the floor. Marge then arrives to pick her up, when it is revealed Maggie's scene was only a ruse to cover the truth: she had slipped her hair bow onto the windowsill and wore the butterfly on her forehead in its place. She then sets the butterfly free as Marge drives her home.
The Longest Daycare is a four-and-a-half-minute-long animated 3D short film based on the long-running American animated sitcom The Simpsons. It came about when The Simpsons executive producer James L. Brooks proposed the idea of making a short film and releasing it in cinemas in front of a feature film—similar to how the people at the animation film studio Pixar create shorts and release them in front of their films. He wanted the short to be a fun gift for the fans of The Simpsons, and according to the series' showrunner Al Jean, "We [the staff] just wanted to do this as a way of saying, 'We appreciate how much people have stayed with the show and watched it for 25 years.'"
The short film ended up focusing on the character Maggie without any dialog (not even from Marge) and was titled The Longest Daycare. Jean said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that it is "hard to do a 20-minute Maggie episode, but in four minutes it's great. She's like Charlie Chaplin." David Silverman, who has directed several episodes of The Simpsons as well as the feature film The Simpsons Movie, served as director for the short.
The Longest Daycare was first announced to the public in a title card at the end of the series' twenty-third season finale "Lisa Goes Gaga" that aired on May 20, 2012. It was revealed that the short would be shown in theaters in the United States prior to screenings of the film Ice Age: Continental Drift, starting on July 13, 2012. Like The Simpsons, Ice Age: Continental Drift was produced by 20th Century Fox. A teaser trailer for The Longest Daycare, lasting approximately five seconds, was released on July 3, 2012. This was the second time that characters from The Simpsons appeared on the big screen, as The Simpsons Movie was released in 2007. Coincidentally, the trailer for that film was first attached to screenings of the Continental Drift predecessor Ice Age: The Meltdown.
It had its world television premiere on Network Ten in Australia on February 17, 2013 at 6.25pm, 5 hours before it premieres on Fox in the USA but 16 hours later in real time due to time zone differences, right after The Simpsons episode "Hardly Kirk-ing". It was also aired in the UK on the same day on Sky 1 at 9.55am, 12 noon and 7.30pm and on Channel 4 at 1.30pm GMT. It also premiered on the same day, at 7.55pm on Prima COOL, in the Czech Republic and on FOX Brasil at 8.30pm.
The Longest Daycare has received critical acclaim. Many film critics have said that the short was better than Ice Age: Continental Drift. Claudia Puig of USA Today argued that "the brief tale is far more clever and whimsical than any sequence in Ice Age." Similarly, Sun Herald critic Leigh Paatsch said the short "displays all the wit and creativity missing from Continental Drift." San Francisco Chronicle writer Amy Biancolli commented that the short is "only a few minutes long, but those few minutes boast more imagination, pathos and suspense than the entire film that follows." Joe Williams of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote that while the short takes place in a daycare, it ironically features more "artistic maturity" than Continental Drift.
The Longest Daycare has been praised for being both humorous and emotional. Puig and Biancolli described the short as "hilarious". Bill Goodykoontz of The Arizona Republic stated that the film is "terrific—sweet, sad, funny, surprising," and Kristian Lin of Fort Worth Weekly said it is "clever" and "surprisingly moving". Writing for Pioneer Press, Chris Hewitt noted that Maggie's interaction with Gerald "is hilarious and, ultimately, poignant in an animated film that covers more territory, all without dialogue, than most full-length movies." He went on to call the short a "triumph of storytelling, pacing and big-hearted humor."
A. O. Scott of The New York Times called the short a "charming 3-D cartoon" that is "witty and touching and marvelously concise". He added that it "cleverly blends the bright-colored flatness of the television show with the gimmickry of 3-D. It also upholds (more than the TV series itself) one of the golden rules of animation: no talking." Tim Martain of The Mercury has also described the short as "touching". The Boston Globe's Tom Russo thought the short was "a welcome throwback to the days when The Simpsons had more sentiment at its core, and wasn’t so much about the latest batch of newbie Ivy League writers taking their cues from Family Guy." In a joint review of the episode "Hardly Kirk-ing", Teresa Lopez of TV fanatic said "The Longest Daycare, was a beautiful piece of animation showcasing a tender story of hope in an otherwise bleak environment. I feel like the only time The Simpsons can really exercise some creativity and depth is in these shorts and during the show's opening sequence."
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