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Movie Reviews
'The Simpsons Movie'
(Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, et al / PG-13 / 79 mins / 20th Century Fox)

Overview: Is this the end for Springfield? Homer (voice of Dan Castellaneta) must save his beloved hometown from a total idiot, i.e., himself, who has doomed it to destruction.

Verdict: Springfield finally succumbs to the environmental disaster it was always meant to experience. The town becomes encased in a giant quarantine bubble, and guess which donut-consuming character is to blame? I think you all know who! The big question on everyone's mind shouldn't be, "Is it funny?" because of course it's funny. This show's been on TV for almost as long as Gunsmoke, and they know what they're doing. If only 98 percent of all live-action comedies were as anarchic and razor-funny, you know? Anyway, the question should be, "Is it more than just four episodes strung together?" And the answer is a nice "yes." It goes to character, visual and thematic places that the show's never gone to before. Making it bigger really works.

You see more of Springfield than ever before, the Inconvenient Truthish-ness of the plot is more weighty, and without getting spoilery, the Simpson family members are taken down deeper — and in a few places, almost serious — paths of self-discovery than they've ever ventured into in a 22-minute episode. I know "self-discovery" sounds pretentious and inappropriate when applied to this show's characters, but that's kind of what happens. Don't freak out, though; it enhances them instead of making you wonder why it's happening.

So, basically, this new movie is a classic Simpsonian interplay of family psychology, social commentary, and brainy visual and verbal jokes tossed off at rat-a-tat speed! Enjoy, one and all :-)