simpsons-movie-trailer-2-20-07Some movies cry out to be seen on the big screen. Gone with the Wind’s breathtaking scenes of the burning of Atlanta simply don’t cut it on the small screen. Ditto Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’s fight in the bamboo trees, but not everything needs the big screen treatment.

The Simpsons have been the world’s most popular television family for 18 years. Week in and week out they have tickled our funny bones on Sunday nights and in re-runs that play almost twenty-four hours a day. Time called the series the “best TV show of all time” and named Bart one of the most influential people of the 20th century. At one point they were so popular that t-shirts with Bart’s picture on them were selling at the rate of 1 million a day.

They’re popular all right, but I have just a couple of questions now that they have made the trip to the theaters: Does bigger mean better? Will The Simpsons, available around the clock on TV, make an impression on movie goers?

The story isn’t much different from the kind of thing we’d see on the television show. Homer creates an environmental catastrophe when he dumps a leaky silo of pig droppings into Lake Springfield. The resulting disaster forces President Schwarzenegger to sign a bill to encase the entire city under a giant glass dome, cutting Springfield and all its residents off from the world. When it is discovered that Homer is the cause of the problem an angry mob descends on the Simpson household. The family narrowly escapes and relocates to Alaska, far away from their troubled former lives. When Marge sees a news report about the devastation in their old hometown she knows she must return, with or without Homer. To redeem himself Homer must save his town from destruction.

It’s a funny movie. Way funnier than my description suggests but is it worth the money? The first twenty-minutes are very good—Homer even breaks the fourth wall to mock the audience that pays to see something at the theatre they can see at home for free. It’s as good as anything from the show’s heyday in the first eight seasons. The laughs thin out a bit through the mid section of the film but stay steady enough to keep a grin on your face.

Laughs aside, The Simpsons haven’t changed much during their transition from the small to big screen, and there really isn’t anything much here that you can’t see on the TV show, unlike the South Park movie of a few years ago which pushed the envelope and created a new, exciting life for the show in 35mm.

The Simpsons Movie is funny, bigger than usual, but I couldn’t get past the nagging feeling that I should have been sitting in my living room watching it on television.