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'The Simpsons Movie' Gets Critical Nod

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'The Simpsons Movie' Gets Critical Nod

Movies

'The Simpsons Movie' Gets Critical Nod

'The Simpsons Movie' Gets Critical Nod

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Weekend Edition entertainment critic Elvis Mitchell has seen The Simpsons Movie and — cowabunga! — he likes it. He talks to Scott Simon about the movie version of the 18-year-old Fox series.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

"The Simpsons" has been a part of American life for practically a whole generation. Eighteen - that's 18 - seasons.

It made cartoons into pointed social commentary. They've made international figures out of the ageless, irreverent Bart Simpson and his father, Homer. You know, the dufus.

(Soundbite of "The Simpsons Movie")

Ms. NANCY CARTWRIGHT (Voice Talent): (As Bart Simpson) Dad, it's not fair to use a bug zapper to catch some fish.

(Soundbite of water splashing)

Mr. DAN CASTELLANETA (Voice Talent): (As Homer Simpson) I think I have a nibble.

(Soundbite of electrocution)

SIMON: That's from "The Simpsons," the movie, which opened this weekend.

Our entertainment critic, Elvis Mitchell, has seen it and joins us from our studios in New York. Elvis, thanks for being with us.

ELVIS MITCHELL: Doh(ph).

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: It was kind of irresistible, wasn't it?

MITCHELL: I couldn't fight it. It's been 18 years since we've last talked about "The Simpsons," probably, actually.

SIMON: Do you like it?

MITCHELL: I like it a lot. It's fun because it's the perfect introduction for audiences who don't know the Simpsons very well. And the most you want (unintelligible) two of them out there is speaking, which you don't know them very well.

What I think is kind of great about the film was that it plays the show's strengths, which is - that shows us really interesting combination of four square and subversive. And the movie is both those things. It has a couple of great bits that I don't want to give away.

SIMON: Why should someone want to see it in a large screen what they can see on the small screen?

MITCHELL: That's a very good question. I think it worked pretty well for "The Untouchables." But, you know, let's extrapolate here, if we will.

What often tends to happen when TV shows are translated into film is that they're trying so hard to make it bigger that it ends up being empty in some way.

SIMON: Yeah.

MITCHELL: Or it ends up being, in a weird way, a kind of diminution of grandeur in an attempt to reach some kind of grandeur.

What the writers of this movie understood - and the producers and - it's directed by David Silverman, who has been the supervising director of the show for a number of years, basically, since the show started. He directed the first episode ever to get to the air. What they all understood is that there had to be something involved in this that made people want to go. The show so much satirizes films and has had so many film figures in it. You can probably hear the voice of almost any movie star in the world on "The Simpsons…"

SIMON: Right(ph).

MITCHELL: …so it's not going to be a lure for you. What the movie had to be about was those characters. Or else, it could be like any sort of gag-filled sitcom that, in effect, goes in the movies.

SIMON: This show made Fox a network, didn't it?

MITCHELL: It definitely did because in the early days of Fox - and God(ph), we talked about this - we've been doing this for a little while, haven't we?

SIMON: I believe we have, yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MITCHELL: In the early days of Fox, it wanted to be the quality network. And they do the kinds of things that nobody else is doing on television in a smart way. There were shows created by Larry Gelbart and James L. Brooks, and those shows didn't fly.

So Fox swung in the other direction in "Married With Children." And what "The Simpsons" was, was that perfect intersection between the high and the low, and it still is that.

SIMON: Elvis, thanks so much.

MITCHELL: Thank you, Scott.

SIMON: Elvis Mitchell, our entertainment critic here on WEEKEND EDITION and host of KCRW's "The Treatment," speaking with us from New York.

(Soundbite of "The Simpsons Movie")

Mr. CASTELLANETA: (As Homer Simpson) (Singing) Spider pig, spider pig, does whatever a spider pig does.

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