Simpsons Movie Premieres at Universal Orlando

It was a smashing yellow carpet premiere for “The Simpsons Movie” tonight at Universal Orlando’s Cineplex. Cartoon-colored confetti was shot into the air over the Cineplex entrance as America’s true First Family arrived by limo and strolled down the yellow carpet (get it?) past adoring fans.

I was fortunate enough to join the VIP audience for the screening that followed, donuts, popcorn and soda on the house, of course.

The good news is that the movie is terrific. The plot revolves around Homer’s infatuation with a pet pig, his disastrous method for handling said pig’s waste, the resulting environmental devastation of Springfield, the over response of a government helmed by Arnold Schwarzenegger (“I was elected to lead not to read”), Homer’s resulting banishment, and his heroic redemption.

I’d bet the proverbial farm that it will be a roaring success. I suppose that the criticism could be leveled that it’s just another Simpsons episode, if a little longer. But it’s also bigger and naughtier (Bart has a nude scene!) and the writers have wisely (and hilariously) anticipated the criticism. Early on, during an Itchy and Scrathy cartoon, Homer stands up in the movie theater within the movie theater and complains, “We’re paying to see something we could see on TV free!”

More important, for the somewhat narrow purposes of this blog, the movie is very shrewdly sprinkled with references that seem to anticipate the fact that the Simpsons are about to become a more or less permanent fixture at a certain Florida theme park.

There are references to Spider Man (in the absolutely hysterical and annoyingly impossible to forget “Spider Pig” song), and to boy wizard Harry Potter. There’s also a vicious dig at the “the mascot of an evil corporation” that will be instantly recognizable. One fall down funny sequence, in which Homer and Marge prepare for a night of connubial bliss, twits that evil corporation’s trademark use of cute little forest animals in its fabled animated films. This could be the cultural event that once and for all establishes Universal as the hip alternative to that “other place” down the Interstate.

In the movie’s closing moments, Maggie says her first word. I won’t reveal it here. Suffice it to say, it will bring gladness to the hearts of Universal theme park executives everywhere.

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