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September 4, 2015

The Simpsons: Any Given Sundance - VIDEO

by Richard Keller, posted May 4th 2008 10:02PM

Lisa with Jim Jarmusch and John C. Reilly(S19E18)"No more Simpsons' movies! One is enough." -- Marge Simpson

Add Utah to the list of states that the Simpsons have visited since the series began. And, no, they weren't there for some wacky episode about Homer being married to multiple women. They were at the Sundance Film Festival, thanks to Lisa and her wonderful documentary about the family she lives with.

Wonderful to the visitors of the festival, that is. For her family it was a bit humiliating -- as much of Lisa's artistic work is. Being such a free spirit Lisa doesn't think too much of the consequences she wreaks when the creates these various projects. Which is weird coming from someone as smart as her. Then again, she's only 8-years-old. So, should we really be expecting more from her?

Probably not. We tend to forget that she's only 8-years-old because of how worldly she can be. Therefore, she sometimes neglects to respect the feelings of those around her in exchange for fame and the belief that others will be changed by what she has created. As mentioned a few weeks ago during another Lisa-centric episode of The Simpsons, this is Lisa's main weakness. When her brain gets clouded by the prospect of fame and fortune, all of the intelligence seems to be leeched away and replaced by a primal urge to become more and more successful, more and more famous.

A bit too deep for a primetime cartoon? Perhaps, but there isn't much more to talk about in this so-so episode. It was just, for lack of a better word, there. It had a few good moments, and the story was okay, but it just had the feeling of one of those installments where you look up and the show is over. And, the bad thing is you really don't remember what happened.

Maybe it was the sameness that this installment of The Simpsons had to other past episodes (other than the trip to Sundance, that is). It started with a scene that wasn't really connected to the main plot of the story until a few minutes in. Other than highlighting the vast supporting cast of The Simpsons there really wasn't much to the tailgate other than when Lisa decided to film some of the events taking place in the stadium parking lot. Frankly, that documentary would have been better suited for Sundance then her family film was. Then again, this is all a cartoon and the opinions expressed here are absolutely, totally moot.

If anything, this week's installment gave us a chance to meet up with Superintendent Chalmers and and Principal Skinner once again. Thinking about this, it seems like both of these men have been at the center of Lisa's life for quite some time. They were behind her rise to power as Student Council president, and encouraged her to tutor Cletus and his family in a previous season. Now, in the guise of Chalmskinn Productions, they were behind her at Sundance in order to achieve their own goals.

Here's my anal-retentive moment of this week's installment: Principal Skinner has to go back into his files to find out who Lisa's family is. Really? This had to be a ploy on Skinner's part to encourage Lisa to produce the documentary. If the producers of The Simpsons are saying that Skinner didn't know who Lisa's brother was then I just may have to go back and debate myself again.

There was only one moment during this week's episode that I sat up and paid attention -- the documentary by Nelson. Similar to the film Barney produced during the Springfield Film Festival, this was a serious piece focusing on how messed up Nelson's life was outside of Springfield Elementary. It was actually pretty sad and, frankly, better than Lisa's documentary. By the by, Nelson's film may have been a direct rip-off of a 1959 French film called The 400 Blows. If that's the case, then the producers really moved into the realm of Dennis Miller with this obscure film.

Finally, a mention about this week's guest voice talent. Jim Jarmusch was actually used well in this episode as he played a sort-of mentor to a confused Lisa. On the other hand, John C. Reilly, who is probably more well-known than Jarmusch, was given very little to do. Because his scene was at the very end of the episode, I was beginning to think that his role may have been cut out of the show entirely.

Next time -- Homer meets his mother for the (apparently) last time.

Who had the better documentary...Lisa or Nelson?
Lisa34 (10.2%)
Nelson234 (70.1%)
Both were good40 (12.0%)
Neither were good26 (7.8%)

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God I hate Lisa. She's not actually that intelligent, she just personifies every politically correct, liberal and nerdy stereotype they can think of. She hasn't had an original thought in her life.

May 12 2008 at 10:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Curtis Gibby

Correction: The Simpsons went to Utah when Bart got married last year in JABF04 "Little Big Girl".


May 08 2008 at 12:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

hi there!

somebody knows the song playing while lisa starts filming their family - (6min 20sec)? thx!

May 05 2008 at 9:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to moe's comment
bram teitelman

that's "I Turn My Camera On" by Spoon.

May 06 2008 at 9:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You can lump in the people that crushed the TV Squad writer for not getting the South Park/Grapes of Wrath reference, those of you hammering Richard for not knowing French cinema...get a freaking life.

It's a cartoon, don't take it so seriously. It's just pathetic.

May 05 2008 at 5:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

here comes one more...the 400 blows is easily in the top 10 of the most influential films in history. that said, the episode could have been SO much more - like maybe exploring the blinding lure of fame and the self satisfied soul suffocating smugness of movie execs (not that i had some bitter experiences in LA or anything...). or even to pursue the family angle more in depth - her documentary footage felt so recycled, and her 'discovery' felt more than a little forced... plus, john c reilly is one funny dude, what's up with using him for like one sentence??? good potential, disappointing execution...

May 05 2008 at 5:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I see you're already getting hammered for referring to "The 400 Blows" as some "obscure" French film. Nevertheless, I have to pile on.

Seriously? One of THE seminal films of the French New Wave, directed by the originator and best exemplar of auteur theory, Francois Truffaut? Son, you're embarrassing yourself.

I know you're a TV writer and not a film writer, but that's like referring to Charlie Chaplin as some "obscure" comedian.

May 05 2008 at 3:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I really liked this episode, but that may because I'm a film semi-buff and I really got a kick out of seeing them filet the indie film crowd like that. There's a hilarious scene where the festival selection committee is going over a film's qualifications for inclusion, and then it is revealved that it has Martin Lawrence playing an elderly woman in a fat suit. Into the fire with that film reel.

Between that, Nelson's epic documentary, the look on Maggies face when a guy from the audience yells out "death to Maggie!", and the misadventures of Skinner and Chalmers, this was a very entertaining episode.

May 05 2008 at 12:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Peter Lynn

The 400 Blows is not obscure. It's very famous. It appears prominently on almost every reputable critic's list of the best 100 films of all time, and every film student studies it.

May 05 2008 at 1:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i liked the episode more than you did.

I loved the ralphwich, "it tastes hurty" :D

May 04 2008 at 10:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Shawn's comment

I loved Wiggum's response: everything is what you say it is.

Classic modern parenting.

May 04 2008 at 11:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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