Brief spoilers for "The Simpsons Movie" coming up just as soon as I find a really kind-hearted carnie to give me one more chance...
Expanding a little on my initial thoughts from a few hours after the screening, I'm really happy with the movie, even though I know it's not an instant classic the way the "South Park" movie was.
The first 20-30 minutes feature most of the best gags and memorable sequences, with Bart's naked skateboard ride and, especially, the Fox crawl joke as highlights. (The theater I saw it in was packed with industry people -- including Fox chairman Peter Liguori -- and the place exploded when the crawl began. I know it's wishful thinking, but maybe that gag can shame Fox into changing its bug-happy ways -- for "The Simpsons," if not for all of primetime.)
Of course, that early stretch of the film is the part lightest on plot. While there's set-up for all the shenanigans with the EPA and President Ahnuld, the first half-hour is essentially a series of thinly-connected sketches -- very funny sketches, but still a format that would describe the TV series from around the point it hit double digit seasons. But it was still a pleasure to get to experience vintage "Simpsons"-style humor ("I'll teach you to laugh at something that's funny!" or Nelson losing his voice from laughing too long at Bart's doodle) with a huge, boisterous crowd. (I wonder how this movie's going to play for people who just wait on the DVD.)
Once the EPA storyline really kicks in, the laughs slow down, but I like that Groening and company didn't try to force gags. I know some critics and fans have complained that the movie doesn't feature nearly enough of the supporting cast, especially with Homer packing up the clan to Alaska. I'm okay with the focus on the family, though; they're the reason most of us fell in love with the show, and I've missed the genuine emotions at the heart of the series' earliest episodes like "Lisa's Substitute." Bart's growing affection for Flanders and, especially, Marge's videotaped message for Homer were really affecting. (Julie Kavner was really amazing in the video scene; too bad voice actors have no real shot at major film awards.) Would I have liked more of Mr. Burns or Apu or Barney? Sure, but not at the expense of the family dynamic.
For all the talk about how the writers didn't want to do the movie if they'd just be repeating bits from the series, there were several sequences that were exactly that. Homer's vision quest in the frozen wilds reminded me of his post-chili cook-off hallucinations, and Comic Book Guy evaluating his life in the face of impending death was nearly identical to the bit from the Halloween episode where he gets hit by a French missile. (The only difference: instead of feeling he's wasted his life, he now has no regrets. If the Halloween shows weren't out of continuity, I'd make some kind of Worst. Mischaracterization. Ever. joke. I guess I just did.)
I also loved how David Silverman and the animators opened up the visuals for the big screen, in a way that made all the characters look like themselves, but better.
So that's me. What did everybody else think?