16 Trivia Tidbits About ‘The Simpsons Movie’ on Its 16th Anniversary
On July 27, 2007, Simpsons fans reached nirvana when they finally saw their favorite cartoon family hit the big screen. The Simpsons Movie would go on to be nominated for a Golden Globe and gross over half a billion dollars worldwide, which is impressive for a film from a franchise some had felt lost its fastball (and that forced us all to see Bart’s doodle).
To celebrate the The Simpsons Movie’s 16th anniversary, we recommend you turn on some Green Day, order some donuts and read on about the movie that seemingly, kept the franchise’s supposed psychic powers alive...
The Gag That Came True
While on board an Alaskan passenger train, Bart swings upside down from the luggage compartment sporting a Madonna bra that also looks like Mickey Mouse ears. His line? “I’m the mascot of an evil corporation!”
Marge Simpson Was Originally Going to Have the EPA Visions
In the movie, Grampa Simpson has a moment in church where he envisions great danger befalling Springfield and rolls around between the church pews making chicken noises before yelling, “Eepa! Eepa!”
That scene was originally animated with Marge doing the prophecy, which was quite taxing for voice artist Julie Kavner. “It had some jokes and setups and payoffs, but overall it wasn’t entertaining,” director David Silverman told Entertainment Weekly. “You’re sort of waiting for it to be over. Once we put Grampa in there, the scene became funnier and actually made more sense. With Grampa, you already accept it. And what’s stronger is Marge is observing this, and nobody seems to pay attention to it. That helped her story even more than if she experienced it and nobody did anything about it.”
Albert Brooks Recorded All of His Lines in an Hour
Brooks, a famous Simpsons voice artist, was brought in to play the evil Russ Cargill, head of the EPA. Only Cargill was initially envisioned as a much more harmless, potbellied character in the vein of Kirk Van Houten. Brooks recorded the character as such, but Cargill didn’t work and was deemed too slow and depressing. So they remodeled him entirely and got Brooks back to do the dialogue at an upbeat tempo.
Brooks did all the lines in roughly an hour. “When we had the previous (version), I could sense as we were working with Albert, he just kind of had nothing,” Silverman revealed. “He was like, ‘Well, is that what you want?’ He never had that before. Anytime we pitched him a character, he would run with it. Clearly, we were in the wrong direction because Albert can’t mine comedy out of it, and Albert can mine comedy out of a teaspoon of dirt. And then, when we came up with this approach to him, he could run with it. That gave us great confidence.”
The Movie Spawned the Springfield Tesseract Theory
Fans of The Simpsons have long been trying to figure out where the town of Springfield is situated in the United States. One early theory was Maine, but Lisa Simpson once claimed in the episode “Half-Decent Proposal” that Springfield was three times larger than Texas. The only state bigger than Texas is Alaska (by two-and-a-half times), which gets ruled out when the family moves there in the movie.
Given the sheer size of Springfield (according to Lisa), fans have since speculated that Springfield resides inside a tesseract. This would explain why it’s perceived as so massive for folks living on the inside and how it can seemingly exist in multiple places simultaneously since its borders make no sense. To further support this theory, we have Marvel’s Loki showing up in the 2021 short film, The Good, the Bart and the Loki.
The Actors Weren’t Sent the Scripts
Due in part to the writers constantly rewriting and polishing the script, combined with the movie’s strict code of secrecy, the voice actors only got to read their scripts when they showed up for recordings. “If the security around the Los Alamos nuclear lab had been as good as the security around this movie, I’d sleep a lot better at night,” said Harry Shearer, the voice of Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders and Reverend Lovejoy.
‘The Bonfire of the Manatees’ Episode Came From the Movie
The episode in which Marge leaves Homer after a big fallout to go and save some manatees alongside Alec Baldwin’s character Caleb was originally planned for the movie. The idea was cut, and Marge left Homer to go and save Springfield instead.
The Movie Went Big on Its International Marketing
While most Americans and Canadians still remember those Kwik-E-Marts popping up to promote the movie (one of which has since become a permanent feature in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina), some might not know that the whole world witnessed the movie’s marketing stunts. A giant donut was erected in Springfield, New Zealand, and an image of Homer in his tighty-whities was chalked next to the famous hill figure in Dorset, England, a stunt that greatly irked the local neopagans. Also, a big floating Spider-Pig was seen at the Battersea Power Station in London as an homage to a Pink Floyd cover.
Kevin Bacon Was Almost an Alternate Ned Flanders
Tons of cameos by big Hollywood stars ended up on the cutting room floor. Which is a shame because it would’ve been marvelous to see a cartoon version of Edward Norton doing an impression of Woody Allen before getting crushed by that massive dome. A stand-out cameo, however, involved Bacon and his kids showing up as an alternate Flanders family living outside of the dome, presumably as the Simpsons’ new neighbors in Alaska.
The Tom Hanks Government PSA That Came True
Hanks did have a cameo in the movie as a spokesperson for the government doing a PSA about
the creation of a new Grand Canyon nuking Springfield.
It was a nice little jab at politicians using Hollywood stars for some kind of credibility score, and everyone was reminded of the movie’s joke when Hanks, in January 2022, did a commemorative speech on the inaugural anniversary of Joe Biden’s first year in office.
The Toughest Part of the Script Was When the Simpsons Weren’t in Springfield
It’s common knowledge that hundreds of drafts and thousands of ideas were scrapped over the years until finally nailing The Simpsons Movie as we know it. Writer and producer Al Jean revealed that one specific area gave them the worst headache of all. “The rough part of the script, which we worked on again and again, was between the Simpsons escaping (the dome) and the Simpsons returning to Springfield. And that I still think is a little rough,” Jean admitted. “I agree with that criticism that there were some funny observations, but it felt like you were just waiting for them to get back. Once Marge does the wedding video and then Homer starts maturing, you feel like there’s a narrative drive again.”
The Sound Effects Were All Made Fresh for the Film
Besides some classic sounds from the show, like Maggie’s pacifier, most of the sound effects in the movie were made entirely from scratch. Gwen Whittle, the movie’s supervising sound editor, guesses that around 99 percent of the movie’s sound was brand new. “I love the Bambi feet in Alaska, the ‘bloop’ sound as the silo sinks under, the bomb dancing on top of the dome, Homer pulling the arrow out of his head. Those are a few of my favorite sounds,” she has said.
Myanmar Banned the Movie for Its Color Palette
Yes, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar reportedly banned The Simpsons Movie not because it portrayed a cartoon character’s doodle but because it used too many red and yellow colors. At the time of the film’s release, the country’s ruling party was battling with its rebel group, the National League of Democracy, whose flag consists predominantly of red and yellow.
The Biggest Difference Between the Characters in the Movie and Those on the Show
In the movie, the characters have shadows because the animators had much more to work with while creating the feature. They drew on wider CinemaScope frames, had their largest ever color palette to work off of and could add details like shadows — something quite uncommon in TV animation.
The Movie Was Conceived As a Homegrown Celebration
“In a way, if every episode of The Simpsons is a celebration, which we try to make it, then the movie is like a big celebration,” Matt Groening once said. “It’s a way of honoring the animators, allowing them to really strut their stuff and really go as far as they can with the art of the handwritten gesture. It’s a way of honoring the writers because we were able to get the best all-star writers of The Simpsons and write our hearts out, and it’s a way of honoring all the great actors — Dan Castellaneta as Homer, Julie Kavner as Marge and all the rest. They really got their opportunities to do some great acting. The music, for the first time, you can actually be bombarded by. It’s big and loud and very ambitious. Hans Zimmer did a fantastic job with the score. He’s like the fifth Simpson.”
Originally, There Was No Spider-Pig
When asked how the whole Spider-Pig phenomenon came to be, Jean explained, “That came in the movie very late. It was after the screening in Portland, and (writer) David Mirkin saw Marge was looking up at the pig tracks on the ceiling and said, ‘Where did they come from?’ and I said, ‘Well, Homer should be holding the pig up and say, ‘It’s the amazing Spider-Pig.’ And then David Silverman and David Mirkin started singing that song.”