The two movies I watched (or partly watched, in one case) on our flight from Korea were Gracie and The Simpsons Movie. The first starred some non-actress who played a teenage girl wanting to play soccer in a world where soccer is a man’s sport. (Curiously it was set in America, where soccer is hardly a sport at all.). Not only couldn’t this girl act, she couldn’t play soccer either, which rather detracted from the character she was playing. The only interesting feature of the movie was that her father was played by Dermot Mulrony, who was the bloke in My Best Friend’s Wedding, with Julia Roberts. There he was a handsome and humorous character. Here he was morose and dull. I went to sleep halfway through the movie. [I missed the early part of the movie: Mulrony's son is killed, which accounts for the morose and dull aspect.]
The Simpsons Movie was just starting when I woke, and turned out to be a lot of fun, full of wit and sharp observation, and surreal moments. It was more than an extended tv episode, and had a reasonable enough plot, but it didn’t really take the Simpsons beyond their normal characters, except perhaps for Maggie, who had a bit more to do than she usually does on telly.
What always intrigues me about the Simpsons is their treatment of Christianity. Flanders is a figure of fun, but he continues to be the Christian in his community. His mistakes and foolishness don’t undermine his actual Christian life. Homer may mock Flanders, but the audience doesn’t necessarily side with Homer in the mockery. The church minister isn’t seen as particularly genuine, but many of the characters (including all the Simpsons) attend his church without fail. And much of the humour that comes out of what happens in the church is subtly done, so that Christians themselves see the humour without feeling their being mocked.
No character escapes having the rug pulled out from under them at some point - it’s by no means something that happens only to the Christians. Even Lisa, who might be seen as the force of reason in the series, seldom gets through without being shown up as rather too pedantic for her own good. And Marge, who might be seen as the perpetually sacrificing mother, has moments when she falls flat on her face. In spite of that she’s still used as the character who practises what she preaches, and what she preaches is often straightforward Christianity.