©2008 Big Empire Industries and Randy Shandis Enterprises
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This week:
The Simpsons Movie

Filthy says:
"As fucking good as the show and longer, too."

Man, there are few things in life that you can be as certain about as the content of The Simpsons Movie. You know Bart will be a smart ass, Homer will be stupid, Marge will stand by him, Lisa will be sort of boring and have the lamest storyline, Milhouse will be pathetic, Ralph Wiggum will say something stupid, Montgomery Burns will be incredibly cruel, Apu will be naive, Moe will be a dirtbag, Lenny or Carl will get his feelings hurt, Comic Book Guy will profess his love of dork culture, Smithers will love Burns, Ned Flanders will take abuse with a thumbs up, Patty and Selma will undermine Homer, Chief Wiggum will let a criminal get away, Principal Skinner will have a rod up his ass, Edna Krabappel will be wild at heart, Itchy will do something brutally cruel to Scratchy, Scratchy will take it, Nelson will mock someone, Mayor Joe Quimby will be corrupt, Krusty the Clown will have disregard for children, Fat Tony will do something criminal, Dr. Marvin Monroe and Bleeding Gums Murphy will remain dead and Maggie won't say a damn thing.

You know what, though? That's fucking A-OK with me. All that shit, even the hundredth variation on it is still funnier than seeing your own grandmother take a header into a shark tank. Funnier even than if she were dead when it happened. There are a shitload of the TV show's writers involved in The Simpsons Movie, and every fucking one of them is talented at telling jokes. I mean, insanely talented. They have the holy grail of Tv jobs for people who actually are funny. Writing plots? Eh, not they're so good at that. But writing the God damn funniest jokes, retelling the same themes in new and funny ways, and avoiding the pitfalls of cliche and hackery are their strengths. David Byrne once said there are a finite number of jokes in the universe. The idea of that scared the shit out of me when I first read it, thought about it and decided that, well, he's David Byrne, so he's probably being clever and right at the same time. I worried there was a space race on to see who could grab the most jokes before the last one was told. It would probably be a five-year-old saying "Butt. Wiener." to his three-year-old brother, causing the child to fall out of his chair in hysterics and split his lip on the kitchen floor, thereby forgetting the very last original joke ever told.

To some degree, it's true that there are only so many jokes you can tell before you start repeating yourself. That makes the achievement of the Simpsons even more spectacular, and makes every season, or this movie, that much harder to write.

Of course, most people don't give a cat's ripe ass whether all the original jokes are gone. They would rather keep saying "No soup for you!" and "Isn't that special?" because they've gotten lost. They long ago forgot that jokes are supposed to be new, enlightening, disarming and surprising by virtue of context, juxtaposition, phrasing, timing and/or audacity. Most people use jokes like old, frayed blankets to wrap around themselves because they feel familiar and secure. That's not what jokes are for. That's what old, frayed blankets are for. So, stop repeating shit that, at best, earns you an uncomfortable snort, or a ha-ha from some weird Canadian who has absolutely no sense of humor, but does have an acute sense of knowing when he is supposed to laugh.

The eleventy-million writers who put together The Simpsons Movie know what a joke is supposed to be. They're merciless in their ability to gnaw away all the fat, blood and flesh to expose the comedic bones of a situation. Which is precisely what they do here, using old themes to make new jokes. Holy crap, after doing this column for ten years, and generally failing, I can only admire writers who have been doing the same thing for 18 years and still find new ways.

The plot is beside the point, but it's pretty weak. Homer falls for a pig who he believes shouldn't be killed since he's wearing human clothes. Through his own poor judgment and impatience, he dumps the pig's waste into the already polluted Lake Springfield, causing a near catastrophic meltdown. The federal government then decides to place the town within a secure dome and pretend it doesn't exist.

As the town residents go mad, they want to kill Homer for putting them in the predicament. Homer and family escape to Alaska, only to learn that the government's ultimate plan is to blow up Springfield. Homer and family must return to save the town.

That's pretty much it. There are subplots of Lisa falling for an Irish environmentalist kid, and Bart wishing he lived with the Flanders, especially after Ned makes him luxurious hot cocoa. Like I said, though, all of that is pretense to tell jokes.

The Simpsons Movie doesn't elevate the caliber of the jokes over some of the best TV episodes. How could it? It's essentially at the quality of a good episode from Season 3 or 4. Not a great episode, like Kamp Krusty. Still, that means it's really fucking funny, and for almost an hour-and-a-half. Four Fingers.



Jim Ferguson of ABC Tucson

Becoming Jane is "a love story for the ages! A beautiful adaptation of Jane Austen's life."

No Reservations: "Make a reservation for the feel-good romance of the summer!"

Filthy's Reading
Peter Bagge - Buddy, Go Home

Listening to
Warren Zevon - Excitable Boy


The Godfather Part 2