TV: Greatest "Simpsons" movie moments
By On Jul. 24th, 2007
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by Ryan Stewart
This Friday "The Simpsons Movie" will hit theatres. But throughout the show’s 18-years-and-counting run (and think about that for a second: kids who were born when the show debuted are now about to be freshmen in college), the family has had more than its share of experience with the cinema. Here, then, are the 25 best "movies" in the show’s history, excluding actual films that existed in our universe as well.
25. "The Contrabulous Fabtraption of Professor Horatio Hufnagel" Sadly, I was unable to find a way to wedge "Stop the Planet of the Apes; I Want to Get Off!" in there, as it is actually a staged musical based on a movie, and not a film itself, but this is a decent replacement, even if it is only referenced by title and poster only at the end of the stellar "A Fish Called Selma" episode. The title cracks us up every time, particularly in context – Troy McClure opts to turn down his chance to play McBain’s sidekick so he can make this vanity project. 20th Century Fox is the studio gambling on its success.
24. "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (starring Mel Gibson) Gibson made a straight-up remake that most of Springfield found moving and eloquent at a sneak preview. The only holdout was Homer, who convinced Gibson to alter the ending to make it more violent. The result was pretty ridiculous, but Gibson doing the thing where he spins around on his head was funny.
23. "Young Jebediah Springfield" An educational film starring Troy McClure, this one is notable for its terrible production values (you can see a stagehand pushing the stuffed buffalo offscreen) and the line "A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man," one of the most cromulent lines in series history.
22. "The Stockholm Affair" When Homer is thwarted in his attempt to see "Look Who’s Oinking," he and Marge instead watch this political thriller in the Tom Clancy mold. Homer has some trouble following the drama until it dawns on him that he’s read a spoiler of the film’s twist ending, a detail he then shares with the rest of the theater.
21. "Ernest Goes Somewhere Cheap" A nice subtle joke here: the snooty Sideshow Bob, who would seem to favor more intellectual cinematic fare, laughs it up obnoxiously at the decidedly lowbrow Ernest film right after his parole. As a bonus, he and Marge share a spectacular exchange over Bob’s stalking of Bart.
20. "Love is Nice" This film, starring Julia Roberts, is ripped apart by Homer after he gets a crayon removed from his brain, which increases his mental capacity. Homer simply can’t understand why people could possibly like something so trite and predictable. Or why people can’t tell Bill Paxton from Bill Pullman.
19. "El Tango Del Muerte" There’s some good lines in this one, mostly about Eduardo the awesome dancer’s brother, Freduardo. "Where he died, I shall live: In his apartment."
18. "Honk If You’re Horny" We don’t see this movie at all, but the title is funny. Homer can’t actually watch it, because his quest for obesity in this episode has reached epic proportions and the movie theater cannot accommodate him.
17. "Hail to the Chimp" The title says it all: an ape is elected president. When his policies are accused of containing mostly partisan rhetoric, he jumps on his opponents’ heads and slaps them into submission.
16. "McBain: Let’s Get Silly" Rainier Wolfcastle stands in front of a brick wall, tells bad jokes, and then obliterates his hecklers. Reported budget: $80 million.
15. "The Terminizor: An Erotic Thriller" This was a screenplay written by Homer and conveniently left where Alec Baldwin, Kim Basinger, and Ron Howard can find it. Homer’s pitch: "It’s about a killer robot driving instructor who travels back in time for some reason." His best friend is a talking pie. Ron Howard sells Brian Grazer on it at the end of the episode.
14. "Leper in the Backfield" There’s only one clip here: Troy McClure goes back to pass… and his arm falls off. The filmography of Troy McClure mostly gets laughs just from when he rattles off their titles. Any actual footage that makes it into an episode is just a bonus.
13. "Cosmic Wars: The Gathering Shadow" A spot-on parody of "Star Wars Episode I," where aliens gather to discuss tariffs.
12. "Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie" Bart isn’t allowed to see this movie when it’s first released, but 40 years later, Homer lifts his embargo and Supreme Court Justice Bart and his father get to enjoy a scene where Itchy ties Scratchy to a set of train tracks, then attends and graduates engineering school so he can run over Scratchy himself.
11. "Homer S.: Portrait of an Ass-Grabber" One of two films depicting the "real-life" newsmaking incidents in the Simpsons’ lives. The first one, "Blood on the Chalkboard: The Bart Simpson Story," starred Neil Patrick Harris as Bart after he was wrongfully accused of murdering Principal Skinner. This more interesting one stars Dennis Franz as the alleged sexual harasser, Homer Simpson, in a nifty bit of stunt-casting. Franz sounds like he’s enjoying himself a little too much.
10. "School of Hard Knockers" Homer watches this as research for his collegiate stint, one he hopes will match what he’s seen in films like "Animal House" and this one, in which a popular, good-looking fratboy named Corey enlists a nerd to create a "bra-bomb" that will rain lingerie on the Dean during the President’s visit. Of course, the President thinks it’s great and appoints the youngster as his "Secretary of Partying Down."
9. "The Muppets Go Medieval" Troy McClure’s "latest film" for many years has him battling Kermit the Frog for the love of Miss Piggy. When Bart watches it, he mistakes Troy for a muppet made out of leather. Dyan Cannon has a small role.
8. "The Poke of Zorro" The jokes in the film that sent Homer on a dueling binge are funny, but with YouTube searches coming up empty at press time, it will be worth watching this on the eventual DVD release of Season 11 (possibly due later this year?) so you can freeze-frame on the credits and catch the even funnier jokes there, such as listing James Earl Jones as the voice of the Magic Taco and Pele as "Hiccupping Narrator."
7. "Scratchtasia" Roger Meyers, Sr.’s magnum opus is a direct parody of the "Sorcerer’s Apprentice" segment of Fantasia, in which Scratchy chops Itchy up into dust-sized particles that he then inhales. They re-animate inside his bloodstream and go to work from the inside out, all while a classical score plays.
6. "McBain" History remembers the McBain franchise-within-a-series as more of a parody of the supercop/supersoldier films of the ’80s like "Die Hard," "Rambo," or "Lethal Weapon," but the original looks like more of a gritty procedural like "The French Connection." The clip we see in the episode has that feel, at least, when McBain’s partner, one day from retirement, is gunned down by the goons of his archnemesis, Mendoza.
5. "The Bloodening" This is the movie the kids of Springfield sneak out to see at the drive-in when they break curfew. It’s a pretty silly parody of "evil children" horror films like "Village of the Damned," but it does include the line "We know that you and the bootblack have been rogering the fishwife in the crumpetshop."
4. "Meat and You: Partners in Freedom" Another educational film featuring big-time movie star Troy McClure, this contains some of the best material in the show’s seventh season. McClure’s cheery description of the "Killing Floor" and the examples of the food chain in action are highlights. All doubters will be labled "Grade A morons."
3. "Pukahontas" Barney’s entry into Springfield’s short film festival has heart, soul, and some surprisingly advanced special effects. This landed Barney the cover of Entertainment Weekly. But yet, we still feel compelled to place it behind…
2. "George C. Scott in â€˜Man Getting Hit by Football’" Like the Academy in this episode, we are easily amused.
1. "Radioactive Man" Sure, we never got to see this as a completed product – we are left to assume that the movie did get finished in Hollywood, after Milhouse (as Fallout Boy) abandoned the production, the residents of Springfield took every cent the production had. But what they actually did shoot, or what they tried to shoot, leaves us with the impression that this would be a pretty kickass comic book superhero movie. The scene where Radioactive Man gets saved from an acid tidal wave would probably have been amazing had the producers not foolishly used real acid. It gets points off for the various production woes, but points added for being the only film that’s the subject of a full episode; a hilarious episode at that. It’s refreshingly devoid of mocking Hollywood convention or grandstanding, and instead full of the kind of inspired silliness we hope to see on the big screen come July 25.