Cheat-Seeking Missles

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sunsets, Simpsons And A Longer Vacation

This is how the mountains looked last night as we left La Quinta for Rancho Mirage and dinner and a movie. It was about 109 as the sun set, and 101 as we drove home about 10 p.m., but today's got some clouds and is cooler.

We saw The Simpson's Movie. Incredible Daughter #3 didn't want to see it because our household has had a good taste ban on the show, but a scrub of the reviews indicated there would be nothing too offensive, so off we went ... to find a movie that delighted us all.

From beginning to end, laughter broke out spontaneously throughout the theater; sometimes we were in synch, sometimes there was something that tickled just a few, who could be heard here and there throughout the theater. As I considered the amount and type of laughter, I realized that it's quite rare to have that much good humor in movies today.

I particularly liked that environmental misanthropes and environmental zealots were the two villains of the movie. The first, of course, is Homer; the second is the EPA and its dark and dreadful director, Russ Cargill, voiced by Albert Brooks. (I wonder what Cargill, the food chemicals conglomerate, thinks of that name selection.)

In an early scene, Lisa Simpson is going door to door, trying to get someone in town to recognize that the townspeople have to stop polluting Lake Springfield. Door after door slams shut in her face. One lady sees Lisa and says, "Oh, it's the little girl that saved my puppy," but slams the door as soon as the first Greenie word leaves Lisa's lips.

A few scenes later, Green Day is playing a concert from a raft anchored just offshore at the lake. At the end of a song (catchy lyrics: Da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da,), lead singer Billy Joe Armstrong (voiced by himself) says something like, "We've been playing for 3 1/2 hours now and we'd like to say something about the environment." They're booed and hissed and "shut up and sing"-ed into oblivion.

Are Matt Groening and James Brooks lampooning the silliness of Greenies, or expressing concern about society's failure to hear their warnings of imminent doom? I think the former, but who cares? We're having too much fun, far too much fun, to bother.

It's the same with Christianity. Groening's and Brooks' portrayal of the Christian neighbor Flanders has rubbed me the wrong way more than once, which is part of the reason for the good taste ban of the show in our home. But is the movie's scene of Grandpa's bout of tongues in church a lampoon of faith ... or a more subtle poke at the faithful for not recognizing religion when they see it?

(There's a hugely funny bit late in the film, when all is going to H-E-double toothpicks in a handbasket. The church and Moe's bar are next door to each other, and when some particularly bad news comes in, the doors to both establishments fling open and all the barflies race to the church for salvation and all the churchgoers race to the bar for a strong one ... make that a double.)

We left laughing, having enjoyed a good yarn well told, lots of laughs and the kind of bad taste that's not that bad at all. So, highly recommended.

Now, on to a longer vacation. We'll now be vacationing through Wednesday morning so I can pick up a client meeting here in the desert Wednesday afternoon. No one complained when I suggested the option of staying two more days.