The Simpsons Movie David Silverman

The Simpsons Movie David Silverman

It took ten years from the time the writing process began, but when The Simpsons Movie finally arrived, it was met with cheers, cash and no small sigh of relief that it didn’t suck after all. Doubts about the characters’ ability to sustain an extended narrative dissipated, gripes about the television version’s recent inconsistencies were forgotten and as coffers collected more than $400 million in box office, plans for a sequel were launched. Interestingly, with all the prime movers of The Simpsons gathered in a room for a film commentary, no popping champagne corks are heard, and no party hats are doffed - the commentary was recorded before the film was released. But there’s little doubt of the pride everyone from James L. Brooks and Matt Groening to Dan Castellanetta and Yeardley Smith have for the film. Their commentary is informative, fascinating and revelatory, not just the best they’ve done (Groening has sat in on 11 seasons and counting of commentary for the show), but one of the best ever offered for a film. They primarily discuss the "write, test-animate, test-screen and ditch” process undergone through ten years of false starts, with significant changes done right up to the last second. There are a surprisingly number of fully completed deleted scenes (unusual for animation), including one that features a different animation design for the chief villain, EPA head Russ Cargill (Albert Brooks). There’s silly stuff like the Simpsons judging American Idol and Homer doing a monologue on The Tonight Show, but it’s the fact-and-anecdote filled commentary tracks (one includes various animation directors) that flesh out this DVD. On second viewing, the film’s focus is what comes across more than specific gags, and while there can always be gripes about the appearance (or lack) of favourite secondary characters, keeping The Simpsons Movie on the family, on track and not R-rated makes the film familiar and ambitious at the same time. It’s just the right touch for one of the world’s most beloved dysfunctional families. Plus: alternate character design, more. (Fox)