As a TV series, “The Simpsons” started losing steam about ten years ago.  It has fallen to a point nowadays that I can’t even watch it.  Don’t
get me wrong, it’s still not a horrible series in comparison to most comedies, but it has fallen far from the greatness it so consistently
showed in earlier years.  Maybe they just haven’t been trying hard enough, because “The Simpsons Movie” is not only funny, but partially
recaptures the magic of those glory days… partially.

In the recent seasons of the TV series it’s almost like watching “The Simpsons” doing a parody of itself.  That’s still true at times here, but
mostly the material allows for a fresh experience with some more elaborate physical gags.

The most noticeable improvement over the show is the animation, which clearly is inspired by Matt Groening’s other series, “Futurama.”  
There are some truly beautiful sequences that wonderfully blend traditional 2-D characters with 3-D environments seamlessly.

But this is “The Simpsons,” and it’s all about humor right?  “The Simpsons Movie” is unquestionably funny.  Even a doubting old
curmudgeon like me was laughing out loud.  Let’s face it, what other movie would start with a cartoon cat being horribly massacred and
then ridicule the audience for paying to see something they could see for free on TV?

The film also does a decent job of featuring the more serious family drama that the show has fallen flat on in recent years.  One of the great
things about “The Simpsons” was that even though it lived in a cartoon world where anything could happen, many of the family dynamics
rang true.  I don’t think the movie fully succeeds here, but it does an admirable job.

I was stunned that one of the series’ unsung heroes, composer Alf Clausen, wasn’t brought on to do the score for the movie after his film-
worthy work on the show for so many years, but Hans Zimmer does provide a good score that fits wonderfully, even if it is mixed too low.

“The Simpsons Movie” is certainly not the series’ finest hour, but it is a good movie that is worthy of what used to be the best show on TV.  
Best Simpsons movie ever!

* * *
(out of four)

Directed by: David Silverman

Written by: James L. Brooks & Matt Groening & Al Jean
& about 20 others...

Starring: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy
Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Harry Shearer, Hank Azaria

Music by: Hans Zimmer

Released: July 27, 2007; 87 Minutes