Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Simpsons flick now out on Blu-ray
& old-fashioned DVDs

90 minutes of Simpsons is more than three times as good as 30 minutes of Simpsons. The movie, which was in theaters last summer, is now available in Blu-ray and standard DVD in both wide-screen and narrow-screen formats. You can evn download it from Amazon Unbox if you're in a big hurry.

It's creative, hilarious, relevent, irreverent, surprising, even exciting... everything you'd expect.

Sure, it would have been nice to have more of Burns & Smithers, Apu, Mrs. Krabappel, Grampa Abe, Principal Skinner, Patty and Selma et al...but the list of potential players was HUGE, and they only had four years to put this together. OTOH, we do get to see Bart's weenie, and hear Maggie speak, and there's a great Itchy & Scratchy mini-movie.

After previous attempts to create a film version of The Simpsons had failed due to script length and lack of staff, production began in 2001. Numerous plot ideas were conceived by the writers, with series originator Matt Groening's being developed into the film.

The script was said to have been re-written 100 times, continuing even after animation had begun. Many hours of finished material was cut, including cameos from Minnie Driver, Erin Brockovich and Kelsey Grammer. Tie-in promotions were made with 7-Eleven, which transformed select stores into Kwik-E-Marts, and other companies such as Burger King. The film premiered in Springfield, Vermont, which won the right to hold it through a competition.

The movie starts with Green Day performing at Lake Springfield, where they fail to get the audience interested in saving the environment. They are killed when the pollution in the lake eats away at their vessel, causing it to sink. At the funeral, Grampa Abe has a vision of a great catastrophe to come, but only Marge listens. Lisa and an Irish boy named Colin hold a seminar entitled "An Irritating Truth", which convinces the town to clean up the lake. Meanwhile, Homer dares Bart to skateboard nude to Krusty Burger, but Bart is caught by Chief Wiggum. Ned Flanders comforts Bart after being humiliated, but Homer ignores him and adopts a pig, who is allowed to leave foot prints on the ceiling in a "Spider-Pig" game.

Homer keeps the pig's "crap" in an overflowing silo, which horrifies Marge, who tells Homer to dispose of it safely. While waiting in a line at the dump, Homer decides on a quicker means of disposal and dumps the silo into the lake, causing it to become heavily polluted. Nearby, Flanders and Bart bond during a hike and discover a many-eyed mutated squirrel, which is captured by the EPA. Russ Cargill, head of the EPA, tells President Schwarzenegger that Springfield is extremely polluted and the government must take drastic action. As a result, the EPA places Springfield under a giant clear dome.

The police discover Homer's silo in the lake, and an angry mob approaches the Simpsons' home and torches it, in a scene from Frankenstein. The family escapes through a sinkhole that goes under the edge of the dome, and flees to Alaska (without the pig) in a truck won in a motorcycle-riding contest, to live in a chalet, with no visible means of support.

Seeing the dome begin to crack and realizing the inevitable escape of the people of Springfield, Russ Cargill manipulates the President into deciding to destroy the town and create a huge hole.

While enjoying life in Alaska, the Simpsons see an advertisement presented by Tom Hanks, promoting a new Grand Canyon, to be located where Springfield is. Marge and the kids decide that they must save Springfield, but Homer refuses to help the town that tried to kill him.

Marge and the kids abandon him and leave for Springfield, via train. After a visit with a mysterious Inuit shaman with huge breasts, Homer has a vision and reaches an epiphany: he must save Springfield and his family.

Meanwhile, Marge, Lisa, Maggie, and Bart are captured by Cargill and returned to Springfield. Cargill tells Springfield's people that the town will be destroyed. A helicopter arrives and opens a hole at the top of the dome, lowering a bomb. Homer climbs the dome and descends, knocking the escaping town people and bomb off the rope. Homer notices a motorcycle, grabs Bart, and cycles up the side of the dome. Bart throws the bomb through the hole, detonating it and shattering the dome. The town praises Homer, who rides off with Marge on the motorbike into the sunset. The film ends with everyone restoring Springfield, including the Simpsons' house, back to the way things were.

There are some extremely funny scenes. One in particular, when doom is apparent, shows people streaming from the church into Moe's tavern, at the same time that people are running from the tavern into the church. Another, when the family is on the lam, has Bart deface a wanted poster showing the Simpsons; and then people who look like the distorted images on the poster are arrested.

The disc is a great gift for any Simpsons fan, and an important part of a growing Blu-ray collection.

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