July 22, 2007
'Simpsons' makes jump to big screen
By -- Sun Media

Now that they've stopped rolling their eyes and actually expressed an interest, I've been schooling my sons in classic movies they should see. I was enthusing recently on a favourite, Dr. Strangelove (Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb).

After I described the penultimate scene, in which Slim Pickens bronco-rides that nuke onto the Soviet Union, my 12-year-old said, "Oh, that explains that Simpsons episode where Homer rides the bomb and yells 'Yee-hah!' "

For some reason, it always gets back to The Simpsons. It's the glue that connects pop culture from my generation to my kids' -- a Rosetta Stone sadly lacking in my own childhood. From Grand Funk to the Smashing Pumpkins, from Adam West to Ad Rock, from Gordie Howe to the Williams Sisters, and from Dick Cavett to Rush Limbaugh, it's a straight timeline of spoof and mockery.

If I need to, I can communicate almost entirely in Simpsons references with my offspring and a handful of like-minded pseudo-adults (like Sun Media's Bill Harris, practically a Springfield savant). And if you've ever said "D'oh!" when you've made a stupid mistake, you've been culturally contaminated too.

Herewith -- on the release of The Simpsons Movie -- a sampling of Simpsons minutiae, straight out of our head. In most cases, we won't be doing a lot of 'splaining. We're just going to assume you speak Springfieldian too.


  • Matt Groening's all-time favourite Simpsons sight gag: The aftermath Of Homer's "I'm King Of The World!" skateboard jump over Springfield Canyon in the episode Bart the Daredevil. I won't explain what happens except to say it partly involves an ambulance crash.

  • Our all-time favourite Simpsons sight gag: Sideshow Bob and those two garden rakes. You know what I'm talking about.

  • Yes, that really was Michael Jackson (billed as John Jay Smith) voicing the mental patient who thought he was Michael Jackson. But it's a studio musician singing. He's one of only two stars who've used pseudonyms. The other is Dustin Hoffman, who voiced a sexy substitute teacher under the kosher fake name Sam Etic (get it?).

  • The shortest guest voice appearance was Liz Taylor, who had one word -- "Daddy." (Voicing Maggie saying her first, and so far only, word.)


    1: The Crazy 'Cat Lady': "BleHAbleh-aaahhhh!" Who knew felines made such great projectiles? She's never had an appearance that didn't make me laugh on sight.

    2: Dr. Marvin Monroe: In the earliest episodes, he was introduced as a quack family counsellor (he wired up the Simpsons, giving them the ability to cause each other pain - meant to teach them compassion, the results were predictably hilarious). He later morphed into Kent Brockman's quack pop psychologist of choice, giving the thumbs up to violent entertainment on shows like Smartline. May or may not have been dead for a decade.

    3: The Comic Book Guy: For the last 16 years, there's been a comic book store very much like The Android's Dungeon near me, with a proprietor who looks very much like CBG (a character who has only been referred to once by his real name, Jeff Albertson). But then, don't they all look like him? My fave CBG moment was when he made Prof. Frink's Sarcasm Detector explode.

    4: Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel: A character with his own theme song ("Some folks'll never eat a skunk/But then again, some folks'll/Like Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel!"). Smarter than he looks. Remember when he hornswoggled Marge out of 300 pretzels so he could feed his wife Brandine and his kids Tiffany, Heather, Cody, Dylan, Dermot, Jordan, Taylor, Brittany, Wesley, Rumor, Scout, Cassidy, Zoe, Chloe, Max, Hunter, Kendall, Caitlin, Noah, Sascha, Morgan, Kyra, Ian, Lauren, Q-bert, and Phil?

    5: Lindsay Naegle: The all-purpose soulless, power-suited businesswoman who is Matt Groening's long-standing revenge on the "suits" from Fox who give him and his producers useless "notes." ("All we're saying is be dangerous ... but warm, and edgy-cute!"). She's been a network exec, marketing researcher, PR exec, ad exec, etc. Loves the word "synergy" and is devoted to making Springfield "less child friendly."

    6: Jasper: A.k.a. Abe Simpson's white-bearded best friend in the old folks' home. Favourite episode: the one where he froze himself in Apu's beer fridge in order to see the future, prompting Apu to market him as a freak show -- Frostilicus, the Ice Man!

    7: Reverend Lovejoy: Introduced as a sermonizing drone, he's had perhaps the most interesting arc of any minor character -- from his career crisis in the episode In Marge We Trust (in which he rediscovers his calling saving Ned Flanders from crazed baboons) to his shame over his kleptomaniacal, boy-manipulating daughter Jessica, to his increasing annoyance at his nattering wife Helen (who goes to Bible camp to "learn to be more judgmental.").

    8: Drederick Tatum: The most transparent Mike Tyson spoof there could be ( "I think Homer Simpson is a good man, I like him, but I will definitely make orphans of his children"). But then how much do you need to dress up reality to mock a guy, Tyson, who recently said that he would soon "fade into Bolivian?"

    9: Grounds-keeper Willie: So much I could say, so much haggis to regurgitate. Let it all boil down to 11 well-chosen words. "There's nary an animal alive that can outrun a greased Scotsman."

    10: Mayor Quimby: A simple generic Kennedy spoof that has grown over the years to encompass the superficiality and vapidity of the electorate and the rubbery morality a modern politician needs to be successful. ("Very well, if that is the way the winds are blowing, let no one say I don't also blow."). Plus, he's taught us the proper way to say "Chow-dah!"


    "Och, back to the loch wi' you, Nessie." Groundskeeper Willie, disgusted tossing Selma Bouvier's dating video in the garbage.

    (Brandine, Cletus' wife): "Now Cletus, why did ya hafta park next to my parents?"

    Cletus: "Now, now, hun. They're muh parents too."

    Homer: Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals ... except the weasel."

    Homer: "Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is ... never try."

    Homer: "I'm normally not a praying man, but if you're up there, please save me Superman."

    Chief Wiggum: "Okay folks, show's over. Nothing to see here, shows ... Oh my God! A horrible plane crash! Hey, everybody, get a load of this flaming wreckage! Come on, crowd around, crowd around."

    Homer: "When I held that gun in my hand, I felt a surge of power... like how God must feel, when he's holding a gun."

    Lionel Hutz: "This is the greatest case of false advertising I've seen since I sued the movie The Neverending Story."

    Sideshow Bob: "Attempted murder, really, what is that? Do they give a Nobel Prize for attempted chemistry?"