The Simpsons Movie

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The Simpsons Movie
Film poster showing five people standing of the roof of a house on fire. From left to right: a girl stands purposefully looking into the distance, a woman looks shocked, a man, holding a pig under his arm, holds a giant donut in the air to complete the text "The Simpsons Movie" above him. A baby lies underneath his legs, a boy with a slingshot to his left.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by David Silverman
Produced by James L. Brooks
Matt Groening
Al Jean
Mike Scully
Richard Sakai
Written by James L. Brooks
Matt Groening
Al Jean
Ian Maxtone-Graham
George Meyer
David Mirkin
Mike Reiss
Mike Scully
Matt Selman
John Swartzwelder
Jon Vitti
Based on The Simpsons 
by Matt Groening
James L. Brooks
Sam Simon
Starring Dan Castellaneta
Julie Kavner
Nancy Cartwright
Yeardley Smith
Hank Azaria
Harry Shearer
Pamela Hayden
Tress MacNeille
Albert Brooks
Music by Hans Zimmer
Danny Elfman (Theme)
Edited by John Carnochan
Production
company
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • July 26, 2007 (2007-07-26) (international)
  • July 27, 2007 (2007-07-27) (United States)
Running time 87 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $75 million[2]
Box office $527,071,022[3]

The Simpsons Movie is a 2007 American animated comedy film based on the animated television series The Simpsons. The film was directed by David Silverman, and stars the regular television cast of Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, Tress MacNeille, and Pamela Hayden. It features Albert Brooks as Russ Cargill, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency who intends to destroy Springfield after Homer pollutes the lake. As the townspeople exile him and eventually his family abandons him, Homer works to redeem his folly by stopping Cargill's scheme.

Previous attempts to create a film version of The Simpsons failed due to the lack of a script of appropriate length and production crew members. Eventually, producers James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Al Jean, Mike Scully, and Richard Sakai began development of the film in 2001. A writing team consisting of Scully, Jean, Brooks, Groening, George Meyer, David Mirkin, Mike Reiss, John Swartzwelder, Jon Vitti, Ian Maxtone-Graham, and Matt Selman was assembled. They conceived numerous plot ideas, with Groening's being the one developed into a film. The script was re-written over a hundred times, and this creativity continued after animation had begun in 2006. This meant hours of finished material was cut, which included cameo roles from Erin Brockovich, Minnie Driver, Isla Fisher, Kelsey Grammer, and Edward Norton. Tom Hanks and Green Day appeared in the final cut as themselves.

Tie-in promotions were made with several companies, including Burger King and 7-Eleven, which transformed selected stores into Kwik-E-Marts. The film premiered in Springfield, Vermont, which had won the right to hold it through a competition organized by Fox. The film was a box office success, grossing over $527 million, and received critical acclaim.

Plot[edit]

The film follows the plot of the TV series The Simpsons, focusing on the Simpson family of Homer Simpson (Dan Castellaneta), his wife Marge (Julie Kavner), and children Bart (Nancy Cartwright), Lisa (Yeardley Smith), and Maggie, and the town of Springfield.

While performing on Lake Springfield, rock band Green Day are killed when the pollution in the lake dissolves their barge, following an audience revolt after front man Billie Joe Armstrong proposes an environmental discussion. At the memorial service, Grampa Simpson (Castellaneta) foresees the destruction of the town, but only Marge believes him. Later that day, Homer dares his son Bart to skate naked, and Bart is arrested by Chief Wiggum (Hank Azaria), wherefore he considers their neighbor Ned Flanders (Harry Shearer) as a better father figure. Lisa and her paramour Colin (Tress MacNeille) convince the town to clean the lake.

Meanwhile, Homer adopts a pig from the Krusty Burger restaurant and names it "Spider Pig" (later "Harry Plopper", and finally "Plopper"), and stores the pig's feces (and some of his own) in a silo, until Marge tells him to safely dispose of the waste. Homer intends to take his silo to the waste management plant, but after Lenny (Shearer) calls to tell him that Lard Lad Donuts has been shut down and is giving away free doughnuts, Homer in his impatience dumps the silo straight into the lake, rather than waiting in a traffic jam for the plant. Moments later, a squirrel jumps into the lake and becomes severely mutated; Flanders and Bart discover the creature before the Environmental Protection Agency captures it. Russ Cargill (Albert Brooks), head of the EPA, presents five "unthinkable" options to U.S. President Arnold Schwarzenegger (Shearer) to keep the town's pollution contained; Schwarzenegger "randomly" selected enclosing Springfield in a large glass dome. When the police discover Homer's silo in the lake, an angry mob advances on the Simpsons' home to kill them, but the family escape the town through a sinkhole, which destroys their house shortly afterwards. As the EPA searches for the escapees, Homer plans to flee to Alaska.

After several weeks of isolation, Springfield's residents finally crack and attempt to break their way out of the dome; pointing out the damage, Cargill manipulates Schwarzenegger into ordering the town's destruction. In Alaska, the Simpsons see an advertisement starring Tom Hanks (himself) for a new Grand Canyon on the site of Springfield; realizing the town is doomed, Marge and the children return to save it, while Homer refuses. Alone, Homer is adrift on an iceberg, while Marge and the children are captured by the E.P.A. after they are discovered by the NSA. After a mysterious Inuit shaman (MacNeille) saves him from a polar bear, Homer has an epiphany and decides to return to Springfield. As Homer arrives, a helicopter lowers a bomb down a rope through a hole in the dome. Homer descends down the rope, knocking the escaping townspeople and bomb off of it. After reconciling with Bart, Homer drives a motorcycle along the dome. As a passenger of the motorcycle, Bart throws the bomb through the hole; seconds later it detonates, shattering the dome and freeing the town. Cargill prepares to shoot Homer and Bart, but Maggie drops a boulder on his head. The town praises Homer, who rides into the sunset with Marge and Maggie, whereupon the townspeople restore Springfield to normal.

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

The production staff had considered a film adaptation of The Simpsons since early in the series.[4] The show's creator, Matt Groening, felt a feature length film would allow them to increase the show's scale and animate sequences too complex for a TV series.[5] He intended the film to be made after the show ended, "but that [...] was undone by good ratings".[6] There were attempts to adapt the fourth season episode "Kamp Krusty" into a film, but difficulties were encountered in expanding the episode to feature-length.[7] For a long time the project was held up. There was difficulty finding a story that was sufficient for a film, and the crew did not have enough time to complete such a project, as they already worked full-time on the show.[8] Groening also expressed a wish to make Simpstasia, a parody of Fantasia; it was never produced, partly because it would have been too difficult to write a feature-length script.[9] Before his death, Phil Hartman had said he had wished to make a live action Troy McClure film, and several of the show's staff had expressed a desire to help create it.[10]

"If every episode of The Simpsons is a celebration, which we try to make it, then the movie is like a big celebration. It's a way of honoring the animators, allowing them to really strut their stuff and really go as far as they can with the art of the handwritten gesture. It's a way of honoring the writers, because we were able to get the best all-star writers of The Simpsons and write our hearts out, and it's a way of honoring all the great actors."
— Matt Groening[5]

The voice cast was signed on to do the film in 2001,[11] and work then began on the script.[12] The producers were initially worried that creating a film would have a negative effect on the series, as they did not have enough crew to focus their attention on both projects. As the series progressed, additional writers and animators were hired so that both the show and the film could be produced at the same time.[13] Groening and James L. Brooks invited back Mike Scully and Al Jean (who continued to work as showrunner on the television series) to produce the film with them.[14] They then signed David Silverman (who, in anticipation of the project, had quit his job at Pixar) to direct the film.[14] The "strongest possible" writing team was assembled, with many of the writers from the show's early seasons being chosen.[13] David Mirkin, Mike Reiss, George Meyer, John Swartzwelder, and Jon Vitti were selected. Ian Maxtone-Graham and Matt Selman joined later, and Brooks, Groening, Scully, and Jean also wrote parts of the script.[13] Sam Simon did not return having left the show over creative differences in 1993. Former writer Conan O'Brien wanted to work with the Simpsons staff again, joking that "I worry that the Simpsons-writing portion of my brain has been destroyed after 14 years of talking to Lindsay Lohan and that guy from One Tree Hill, so maybe it's all for the best."[15] The same went for director Brad Bird who said he had "entertained fantasies of asking if [he] could work on the movie", but did not have enough time due to work on Ratatouille.[11] The producers arranged a deal with Fox that would allow them to abandon production of the film at any point if they felt the script was unsatisfactory.[16]

Work continued on the screenplay from 2003 onwards,[16] taking place in the small bungalow where Groening first pitched The Simpsons in 1987.[17] The writers spent six months discussing a plot,[18] and each of them offered sketchy ideas.[17] Jean suggested the family rescue manatees, which became the 2005 episode "The Bonfire of the Manatees", and there was also a notion similar to that of The Truman Show where the characters discovered their lives were a TV show. Groening rejected this, as he felt that the Simpsons should "never become aware of themselves as celebrities".[11] Groening read about a town that had to get rid of pig feces in their water supply, which inspired the plot of the film.[14] The decision for Flanders to have an important role also came early on, as Jean wished to see Bart wonder what his life would be like if Flanders were his father.[19] Having eventually decided on the basic outline of the plot for the film, the writers then separated it into seven sections. Jean, Scully, Reiss, Swartzwelder, Vitti, Mirkin, and Meyer wrote 25 pages each, and the group met one month later to merge the seven sections into one "very rough draft".[13] The film's script was written in the same way as the television series: the writers sitting around a table, pitching ideas, and trying to make each other laugh.[16] The script went through over 100 revisions,[18] and at one point the film was a musical. However, the songs were continually being shortened and the idea was dropped.[20] Groening described his desire to also make the film dramatically stronger than a TV episode, saying that he wanted to "give you something that you haven't seen before".[21]

Animation[edit]

A man with a cowboy hat on his back.
Director David Silverman looked at some of the television episodes he had directed for inspiration.

Animation for the film began in January 2006,[14] with the Itchy & Scratchy short being the first scene to be storyboarded.[22] Groening rejected making either a live-action or a CGI film,[17] calling the film's animation "deliberately imperfect" and "a tribute to the art of hand-drawn animation".[23] The film was produced in a widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio, to distinguish it from the look of the television series,[13][22] and colored with the largest palette the animators had ever had available to them.[5] A lot of the animation was produced using Wacom Cintiq tablets, which allowed images to be drawn directly onto a computer monitor to facilitate production.[22] Animation production work was divided among four studios around the world: Film Roman in Burbank, California, Rough Draft Studios in Glendale, California, and AKOM and Rough Draft's division in Seoul, South Korea. As with the television series, the storyboarding, characters, background layout, and animatic parts of production, were done in America. The overseas studios completed the animation, in-betweening, and digital ink and paint processes.[24]

Director David Silverman said that unlike the TV series where "you [have] to pick and choose", the film gave them the opportunity to "lavish that attention [on] every single scene". The characters have shadows, unlike in the show.[16] Silverman and the animators looked to films such as The Incredibles, Triplets of Belleville, and Bad Day at Black Rock for inspiration, as they were "a great education in staging because of how the characters are placed".[16] They also looked for ideas for a dream sequence, in Disney films such as Dumbo and the Pluto cartoon Pluto's Judgment Day,[17] and for crowd scenes in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.[19] Silverman looked at some of the Simpsons episodes he had directed, primarily his two favorites, "Homie the Clown" and "Three Men and a Comic Book".[25] Mike B. Anderson, Lauren MacMullan, Rich Moore, and Steven Dean Moore each directed the animation for around a quarter of the film under Silverman's supervision, with numerous other animators working on scenes.[24]

Casting[edit]

For inspiration for the crowd scenes in the film, the production staff referenced a poster featuring more than 320 Simpsons characters.[26] Groening said they tried to include every single character in the film, with 98 having speaking parts,[14] and most members of the crowds being previously established characters instead of generic people.[22] The series' regular voice actors: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, and Harry Shearer, as well as semi-regular performers Tress MacNeille, Pamela Hayden, Marcia Wallace, Maggie Roswell, Russi Taylor, and Karl Wiedergott, reprised their roles.[6] Joe Mantegna returned as Fat Tony,[27] while Albert Brooks, who supplied many guest voices in episodes, was hired as Russ Cargill,[13] after he told the staff that he wanted to be part of the film.[19] For "about a week", he was to reprise the role of Hank Scorpio from the episode "You Only Move Twice", but the staff felt that creating a new character was a better idea.[24]

Lots of angry people holding flaming torches as they march together
The shot of an angry mob coming for Homer features cameos from more than 320 characters.[18]

The cast did the first of three table readings in May 2005,[6][28] and began recording every week from June 2006 until the end of production.[29] James L. Brooks directed them for the first time since the television show's early seasons. Castellaneta found the recording sessions "more intense" than recording the television series, and "more emotionally dramatic".[30] Some scenes, such as Marge's video message to Homer, were recorded over one hundred times, leaving the voice cast exhausted.[19]

The writers had written the opening concert scene without a specific band in mind. Green Day were cast in that role having requested to guest star in the show. Tom Hanks also appears as himself in the film and accepted the offer after just one phone call.[19] Everybody Loves Raymond creator Philip Rosenthal provides the voice of the father in the "new Grand Canyon" commercial with Hanks.[22] Due to time restraints, several guests who had recorded parts were cut from the film. Minnie Driver recorded the part of a patronizing grievance counselor in a scene that ended up being cut.[31] Edward Norton recorded the part of the man who gets crushed as the dome is implemented, performing a Woody Allen impression. The staff felt the voice was too distracting, so Castellaneta re-recorded Norton's dialogue with a different voice.[22] Isla Fisher and Erin Brockovich also recorded cameos, but their scenes were cut.[14][32] Kelsey Grammer recorded lines for Sideshow Bob, who was to appear at several different points,[22][24] but these scenes were also cut.[19] Johnny Knoxville was also touted as a possible guest star.[19]

Although he does not provide the voice, Arnold Schwarzenegger is President of the United States in the film. He was chosen instead of the then President George W. Bush because then, "in two years [...] the film [would be] out of date".[18] Brooks was nervous about the idea, noting that "[Schwarzenegger's] opinion polls were way down", and has said that they "were [hoping] he'd make a political comeback".[5] The animators began by drawing an accurate caricature of Schwarzenegger,[19] but one of the staff instead suggested an altered version of recurring character Rainier Wolfcastle as President.[25] This idea was developed, with the design of Wolfcastle, himself also a caricature of Schwarzenegger, being given more wrinkles under his eyes and a different hairstyle.[19]

Editing[edit]

Every aspect of the film was constantly analyzed, with storylines, jokes, and characters regularly being rewritten.[22] Although most animated films do not make extensive changes to the film during active production due to budget restrictions,[11] The Simpsons Movie crew continued to edit their film into 2007, with some edits taking place as late as May, two months before the film was released.[22] James L. Brooks noted, "70 percent of the things in [one of the trailers]—based on where we were eight weeks ago—are no longer in the movie."[26] Groening said that enough material for two more movies was cut.[17] Various new characters were created, and then cut because they did not contribute enough.[11] Originally Marge was the character who had the prophetic vision in church. The writers however considered this to be too dark and it was changed to Grampa.[22] The role of Lisa's love interest Colin was frequently revised. He was previously named Dexter and Adrien, and his appearance was completely altered.[19] One idea was to have Milhouse act as Lisa's love interest, but the writers realized "the audience was not as familiar with [his] long-standing crush on [Lisa] as [they had] thought".[22] A car chase in which Homer throws flaming mummies out of a truck at the EPA was replaced with "more emotional and realistic" scenes at the motel and carnival that allowed for a change of pace.[22]

Further changes were made after the March 2007 preview screenings of the film in Portland, Oregon and Phoenix, Arizona.[22] This included the deletion of Kang and Kodos heavily criticizing the film during the end credits.[14] A lot of people at the screenings found the original film too coarse, and some of Homer's behavior too unkind, so several scenes were toned down to make him appear nicer.[22] Russ Cargill was redesigned several times, originally appearing as an older man whose speech patterns Albert Brooks based on Donald Rumsfeld. The older model was the one used by Burger King for the action figure.[22] Cargill's scene with Bart and Homer at the film's conclusion was added in to fully resolve his story, and the "Spider-Pig" gag was also a late addition.[19] One excised scene, before the dome is put over Springfield, had Mr. Burns reminding viewers that it was the last point in the film that they could get a refund.[22] Other deletions included Homer's encounter with a sausage truck driver, which was featured on the DVD, a scene with Plopper the pig at the end,[33] and a news report, showing the dome's effect on daily life in Springfield in areas such as farming and sport, was cut because it did not fit the overall context of the film.[22] Several musical numbers, at various intervals throughout the film, were cut.[22] These included a song about Alaska, featuring music by Dave Stewart of Eurythmics. Jean said it "got pretty far along in the animation, and then we got scared that the movie began to drag in that section."[34][35]

Music[edit]

James L. Brooks chose Hans Zimmer to compose the film's score, as they were good friends and regular collaborators.[36] Zimmer felt that the score was a "unique challenge", and he had to "try and express the style of The Simpsons without wearing the audience out".[37] He used Danny Elfman's original opening theme, but did not wish to overuse it. He created themes for each member of the family. Homer's leitmotif was a major focus, and Zimmer also composed smaller themes for Bart and Marge.[38] Regular television series composer Alf Clausen was not asked to score the film, noting: "sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug".[39]

In addition to their appearance in the film, Green Day recorded its own version of the Simpsons theme, and released it as a single.[40] Zimmer turned the Spider-Pig song into a choral piece, which was a joke he never intended to be put into the film. Zimmer also had to write foreign-language lyrics for the 32 dubbed versions of the song when the film was released internationally. He found translating the song into Spanish the hardest to write. The same choir learned to sing the piece for each of the foreign-language dubs.[38]

Cultural references[edit]

Many cultural references and allusions are made throughout the film. Green Day play "Nearer, My God, to Thee" on violins as their barge sinks, in a sequence parodying the film Titanic.[22][41] When Bart is riding his skateboard naked, different passing objects are constantly covering his genitalia, a nod to similar techniques used in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.[24] Homer and Marge's love scene parodies many Disney films, including Cinderella,[17] with Disney-style animals helping them undress.[19] Originally, the music from The Wizard of Oz was used in that scene, and the fawn had white spots; these were removed because the animators felt it resembled Bambi too clearly.[22] Bart impersonates Mickey Mouse on the train, calling himself "the mascot of an evil corporation".[19] Homer plays Grand Theft Walrus, an allusion to the video game series Grand Theft Auto. In the game, his character shoots a tap-dancing penguin in reference to the film Happy Feet.[22] The "Spider-Pig" song is a parody of the theme song of the 1967 Spider-Man TV series,[38] and the name of Lisa's lecture is An Irritating Truth, a play on Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth.[42] The bomb disposal robot was based on Vincent D'Onofrio's character Leonard "Pyle" Lawrence from the film Full Metal Jacket, who commits suicide in a similar way.[24] At the end of the film, the crowd's celebration is similar to the conclusion of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, with Carl performing exactly the same hand gestures as Lando Calrissian.[24]

The $1,000 Homer received when entering Alaska is a reference to the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend.[43] As Homer leaves Eski-Moe's he grabs on to a passing truck and uses it to propel himself back to the house, a tribute to actor Buster Keaton,[22] while the epiphany scene features homages to the film Brazil and the works of Salvador Dalí.[24] Hillary Clinton appears as Itchy's vice president, while an Orc from The Lord of the Rings appears in the mob scene.[22] A scene that was cut had Marge and the kids appear on the TV talk show The View to spread the news of Springfield's impending doom. Parts were written for the show's entire panel and the scene was planned to feature Russ Cargill having a gunfight with Joy Behar.[22] Another dropped scene featured Moe describing Springfield's varying physical states inside the dome, one of which was the Disneyland ride Autopia.[22] There are several references to events in previous TV episodes of The Simpsons. These include the wreckage of the ambulance from the episode "Bart the Daredevil" crashed into a tree next to Springfield Gorge.[19] The Carpenters' song "(They Long to Be) Close to You" was used in Homer and Marge's wedding video and had also been used in several emotional moments between them in the TV series.[22]

Themes[edit]

A girl looks nervous as she looks at the boy next to her. An apple tree is in the background.
An apple tree was inserted into the background here, in reference to Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden.[24]

Al Jean described the film's message as being "a man should listen to his wife." In addition, the film parodies two major contemporary issues, religion and environmentalism.[44] The theme of environmentalism is present throughout the film: in Homer's polluting of Lake Springfield, Green Day's cameo, Lisa's activism and her romance with Colin. The villainous Russ Cargill is head of the Environmental Protection Agency.[14] Reviewer Ed Gonzalez argued the plot was a satire of the government's reaction to the effects of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans.[45] Ian Nathan of Empire magazine criticized this focus, believing it gave the film an "overt political agenda [which] border[s] on polemic".[46] James D. Bloom of Muhlenberg College commented on the "explicitness" of the film's "intellectual agenda," on this issue, shown particularly through Lisa. He wrote that the film's first post-opening credits scene, which sees Green Day fail in an attempt to engage their audience on the issue of the environment, "sets in motion a plot expressly built around cultural agenda-setting" and "reflection on timely 'issues'."[47]

Religion is focused on in Grampa's momentary possession, and Marge believing what he said to be a message from God.[42] Groening joked the film "posit[s] the existence of a very active God", when asked if he believed it was likely to offend.[44] Mark I. Pinsky, author of The Gospel According to The Simpsons, said the film "treats genuine faith with respect, while keeping a sharp eye out for religious pretension and hypocrisy of all kinds". Regarding the scene where the tenants of Moe's Tavern and the Church switch locations, he believed it took the "chance to unmask everyone's human fallibility." In analyzing the role of Ned Flanders, he wrote, "It is [the] willingness of The Simpsons to depict all the different sides of us [...] that makes it so rich and funny on our complicated relationship with religion."[48] Trees are a motif in the film, and they were implemented in every important or emotional scene throughout the film. The animators inserted an apple tree behind Lisa and Colin during their initial meeting, a reference to the biblical figures of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden.[24]

Release[edit]

A board reads "Welcome to the Hometown Springfield Premiere of The Simpsons Movie
The Marquee from the film's premiere, which took place in Springfield, Vermont.

20th Century Fox announced on April 1, 2006 that the film would be released worldwide on July 27, 2007.[49] The film was released a day earlier in Australia and the United Kingdom.[50][51][52][53] Little information about the plot was released in the weeks building up to the film's release. Groening did not feel that "people look in the TV section of the newspaper and think, 'I'll watch this week's Simpsons because I like the plot.' You just tune in and see what happens."[11]

Fox held a competition among 16 Springfields across the United States to host the American premiere.[54] Each Springfield produced a film, explaining why their town should host the premiere, with the results being decided via a vote on the USA Today website.[55] Springfield, Minnesota dropped out on May 31, 2007.[56] The winner was announced on July 10 to be Springfield, Vermont.[57] The town beat Springfield, Illinois by 15,367 votes to 14,634. Each of the other 14 entrants held their own smaller screenings of the film on July 26.[55] Springfield, Vermont hosted the world premiere of the film on July 21 with a yellow carpet instead of the traditional red.[57]

The film was rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for "irreverent humor throughout".[58] The production staff had expected this rating.[12] However, the British Board of Film Classification passed the film as a PG with no cuts made.[59] A BBFC spokeswoman said regarding Bart's brief nude scene, "natural nudity with no sexual content is acceptable in PG films".[60]

Marketing[edit]

A building with striped lines across it, some people stand in front of it
A 7-Eleven store in Seattle transformed into a Kwik-E-Mart.

The convenience store chain 7-Eleven transformed 11 of its stores in the U.S. and one in Canada into Kwik-E-Marts, at the cost of approximately $10 million.[61][62] 7-Eleven also sold Simpsons-themed merchandise in many of its stores. This included "Squishees", "Buzz Cola", "Krusty-O's" Cereal, and "Pink Movie Donuts".[62] This promotion resulted in a 30% increase in profits for the altered 7-Eleven stores.[63] Homer performed a special animated opening monologue for the July 24, 2007 edition of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, as part of another promotion.[64]

Promotions also occurred around the world. 20th Century Fox erected a "giant pink donut" in the town of Springfield in Canterbury, New Zealand to celebrate being named Springfield,[65] while in London a double decker-sized floating inflatable Spider Pig was set up by the Battersea Power Station.[66] In Dorset, England, an image of Homer was painted next to the hill figure, the Cerne Abbas Giant. This caused outrage amongst local neopagans who performed "rain magic" to try to get it washed away.[67]

McFarlane Toys released a line of action figures based on the film,[68] EA Games released The Simpsons Game, to coincide with the film's DVD release, although the plot of the game was not based on the film.[69][70] Samsung released The Simpsons Movie phone,[71] and Microsoft produced a limited edition The Simpsons Movie Xbox 360.[72] Ben & Jerry's created a Simpsons-themed beer and donut-flavored ice cream, entitled "Duff & D'oh! Nuts".[73] Windows Live Messenger presented their users with the opportunity to download a free animated and static content for use within their conversations.[74] Burger King produced a line of Simpsons toy figures that were given away with children's meals, and ran a series of Simpsons-themed television adverts to promote this.[63] JetBlue Airways held a series of online sweepstakes to win a trip to the film's Los Angeles, California premiere. They also included a channel dedicated to The Simpsons on their planes' in-flight entertainment system.[63]

Box office[edit]

The film earned $30,758,269 on its opening day in the U.S. making it the 25th-highest, and fifth-highest non-sequel opening day revenue of all time.[75] It grossed a combined total of $74,036,787 in its opening weekend on 5,500 screens at 3,922 theaters, reaching the top of the box office for that weekend.[76] This made it the tenth-highest revenue of all time, for an opening weekend in July, and highest among non-sequels, and the highest animated TV adaptation of all time.[77] This outperformed the expectations of $40 million that Fox had for the release.[78]

It set several American box office records, including highest grossing opening weekend for a non-CG animated film and for a film based on a television series, surpassing Mission: Impossible II. It was also the third-highest grossing opening weekend for an animated film.[79] It opened at the top of the international box office taking $96 million from 71 overseas territories, including $27.8 million in the United Kingdom, the second-highest UK opening ever for a 20th Century Fox film.[80] It contributed to over half of the record 5.5 million people attending British cinemas that weekend.[81] In Australia, it grossed $13.2 million, the third-highest opening weekend in the country, and the highest for an animated film.[82] The United Kingdom is the highest-grossing country for the film outside the US with a $78,426,654 gross overall, with Germany in second place with a $36,289,250 gross overall.[83] The film closed on December 20, 2007 with a gross of $183,135,014 in the United States and Canada and a worldwide gross of $527,068,706. It was the eighth-highest grossing film worldwide and the twelfth-highest grossing in the United States and Canada of 2007.[3]

Home media[edit]

Some buildings. The one at the back is yellow at the top.
The Empire State Building was illuminated yellow to promote the film's home video release.

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc worldwide on December 3, 2007 and on December 18, 2007 in the U.S. It contains commentary tracks from both the producers and animators, six deleted scenes, and a selection of material used to promote the film release.[84] An unfinished deleted scene of the townspeople singing the Springfield Anthem was also included on The Simpsons The Complete Tenth Season DVD boxset.[85]

Promotions for the DVD release occurred across the United States. The Empire State Building was illuminated yellow, the first time the building had ever been used as part of a film promotion.[86] In the United Kingdom, Fox launched a £5 million advertising campaign.[87] They also signed a £1.6 million deal with the yogurt company Yoplait, to produce a The Simpsons Movie design for their brand Frubes.[88] In its first week it topped the U.S. DVD chart, and generated $11.8 million in rental revenue.[86]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

The Simpsons Movie was very well received by critics. The film currently has a 90% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with 178 of a total 198 reviews being determined as positive.[89] It received a rating of 80 out of 100 (signifying "generally favorable reviews") on Metacritic from 36 reviews.[90] British newspapers The Guardian and The Times both gave the film four out of five stars. The Times' James Bone said that it "boasts the same sly cultural references and flashes of brilliance that have earned the television series a following that ranges from tots to comparative literature PhDs".[91] The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw stated that it "gives you everything you could possibly want" and that he thought, "Eighty-five minutes [was] not long enough to do justice to 17 years of comedy genius".[92] Ed Gonzalez praised the film for its political message, likening the Itchy & Scratchy cartoon at the beginning to President Schwarzenegger's situation later on, as well as the film's visual gags.[45] Randy Shulman praised the cast, and described them as having "elevated their vocal work to a craft that goes way beyond simple line readings", and particularly praised Kavner who he said "gave what must be the most heartfelt performance ever".[93] Roger Ebert gave a positive review, but admitted he was "generally [not] a fan of movies spun off from TV animation". He called it "radical and simple at the same time, subversive and good-hearted, offensive without really meaning to be".[94] Richard Corliss of Time said that the film "doesn't try to be ruder or kinkier, just bigger and better".[95]

Julie Kavner was praised for her emotional performance as Marge and was nominated for an Annie Award for voice acting.

USA Today film critic Claudia Puig said that the story did "warrant a full-length feature, thanks to a clever plot and non-stop irreverent humor".[96] Patrick Kolan believed that the film was "easily the best stuff to come [from the Simpsons] since season 12 or 13" and praised the animation, but also said that the appearances of characters such as Comic Book Guy and Seymour Skinner were "small and unfunny".[97] Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter praised the film's good nature, stating that the laughs "come in all sizes", but also noted that, "little has been gained bringing the Simpsons to the screen."[98]

Variety's Brian Lowry called it "clever, irreverent, satirical and outfitted" but that it was "just barely" capable of sustaining a running time longer than a television episode.[99] Lisa Schwarzbaum praised the voice cast but stated that the "'action' sequences sometimes falter".[100] When comparing the film to the early episodes of the show, Stephen Rowley concluded that the film "has more going for it than the show in its later years, but is still a long way short of what made it so invigorating".[101] The Monthly critic Luke Davies echoed Lowry's concerns about the length: "everything moves with the whip-crack speed of a half-hour episode. And that's the paradox: it makes the film feel like three episodes strung together. We're in a cinema, and we expect something epic." He opined that "in the great arc that is the history of The Simpsons, this film will come to be seen as oddity rather than apotheosis."[102]

More negative reception came from the magazine Empire, where reviewer Ian Nathan compared the film to New Coke, saying that "it utterly failed".[46] Phil Villarreal believed that there were "too few laugh-worthy moments" and that "instead of stretching to new frontiers, the film rests on the familiar".[103] Sheila Johnston criticized the pacing of the film and its joke level saying that "the overall momentum flags at times" and that it was "a salvo of comic squibs, some very funny, others limp".[104] David Edwards agreed with this, writing that although "there's a great half-hour show rattling around...the rest is padding at its very dullest", concluding that it "isn't a terrible film, just a terribly disappointing one."[105] Cosmo Landesman believed, "the humour seem[ed] to have lost its satirical bite and wit" and that "much of the comedy is structured around the idiocy of Homer".[106] This assessment was shared by Carina Chocano of the Los Angeles Times, who felt that "once the movie wanders into its contemplation of mortality and meaning, the trenchancy kind of creaks and falls off." She negatively compared it to South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999), a film similarly adapted from an animated television series, saying that, in terms of satire, it offers "nothing we don't hear every night on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."[107] Bruce Newman criticized the fleeting appearances of many of the show's secondary characters, and found the film to be "a disappointment".[108]

Accolades[edit]

The Simpsons Movie won the award for Best Comedy Film at the British Comedy Awards,[109] Best Animation at the inaugural ITV National Movie Awards,[110] and Best Movie at the UK Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards, beating Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, and Shrek the Third.[111] The film's trailer won a Golden Trailer Award in the category Best Animated/Family Film Trailer at the 8th Annual Golden Trailer Awards.[112] Forbes named the film the third best of the year, based on its box office takings and Metacritic critical response score.[113] The film's website received a Webby Award at the 12th Annual Webby Awards in the category "Best Movie and Film Website".[114]

At the 35th Annie Awards the film was nominated in four categories: Best Animated Feature, Directing in an Animated Feature Production, Writing in an Animated Feature Production, and Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production for Julie Kavner. All four awards were won by Ratatouille.[115][116] It was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the 65th Golden Globe Awards, the BAFTA for Best Animated Film, and the Producers Guild Award for Animated Theatrical Motion Picture.[117][118][119][120] It also received nominations for the Satellite Award for Best Animated or Mixed Media Feature, the Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Animated Feature, and the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Animated Feature.[121][122][123][124]

Before its release, the film received a nomination at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards for "Best Summer Movie You Haven't Seen Yet", with the award ultimately won by Transformers,[125] and lost the Teen Choice Award for "Choice Summer Movie – Comedy/Musical", which was won by Hairspray.[126] It was also nominated for Favorite Movie Comedy at the People's Choice Awards, losing to Knocked Up.[127]

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External links[edit]