The Simpsons move to the movies

Pending an April Fool’s announcement, America’s longest running animated television series, The Simpson’s, hinted at the release of a full-length motion picture this April 1 in a move as subtle as the satire for which the series is famous. 20th Century Fox released a short teaser for the movie with little noise, placing it in theaters across the country as a prelude to Ice Age: The Meltdown. The thirty-second trailer begins with a voice guaranteeing viewers “the greatest hero in American history.” Cut to Homer Simpson on the couch in his underwear, sporting a Superman shirt too small for a poodle. “I forgot what I was supposed to say,” he confesses. Not to say Homer Simpson isn’t an American hero – he’s been an astronaut, strutted with Mick Jagger and brawled with a CIA-trained George H.W. Bush – without even so much as a wrinkle on his face to show from it. But attribute his clear yellow complexion to the fact that he’s a cartoon, and his success as the embodiment of dysfunctional fatherhood to Simpson’s creator Matt Groening. Groening, the man responsible for the culturally iconic family, joked with IndyStar.com that although the movie is behind schedule “only by about fifteen years or so,” The Simpson’s crew thought it was about time “for Millhouse to win an Oscar.” That joke aside, Groening and his writing team have presumably come up with a script full of more zingers to impress the eventual eager audiences, though we will not know for sure until the scheduled July 27, 2007 release date. The Simpson family’s antics and those of their Springfieldian counterparts have been critiquing American society for years via keen wit, perfectly timed slapstick humor and political satire; I call the genre “smartoon.” But although The Simpson’s has successfully poked fun at American absurdities like the haughty Hollywood Actor, Troy McClure (whom you might remember from such films as The Muppets Go Medieval and P is for Psycho), there is no guarantee that The Simpson’s movie will make you spew concession stand Cherry Coke from your nose. Instead, those theater floors may remain dry because a seventeen-year run as a hugely successful show leaves expectations for the movie just as high. It has to be good. If not, The Simpson’s risks leaving the “smartoon” genre, which they invented, on a low note, allowing shows like South Park and Family Guy to vie for the throne. If you are a die-hard fan of the show, The Simpson’s movie will either elicit a disappointed “D’oh” or an epic exclamation – nothing in between. Try not to have a cow waiting a year to find out.