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Feature: The Simpsons
Springfield of Dreams
The Simpsons has a long and glorious tradition of lampooning films, from Frankenstein to Reservoir Dogs and everything in between. We pick out our favourite homages, including some you may have missed
You don’t have to be a die-hard Simpsons fan with all 16 series under your belt to know that pop culture references are a mainstay of the programme’s comic arsenal. In fact, you only need to have seen a couple of episodes to figure that out, as each is packed with enough tongue-in-cheek jokes to ensure that even the most blinkered viewer will spot at least one. Among all of the nods to other television programmes (Patty and Selma’s beloved MacGyver), music (Homer and the Be-Sharps’ homage to The Beatles’ famous rooftop concert) and various staples of our everyday lives (TV evangelists, cheesy news anchormen and glitzy beer promotions), it’s undoubtedly the film world that gets the Simpsons treatment on the most regular basis. Whether it be a piece of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it dialogue or an entire episode devoted to a classic feature, these references pop up all the time and, as it would be impossible to include the myriad movie moments that have occurred over the past 16 years, it’s the best of these that we celebrate now.
The Simpsons is a joy for die-hard film fans, as many of its nods to Tinseltown are small but perfectly formed gems – a line, a snatch of music or a scene that references something far greater. Many of these are obscure enough to test the mettle of even the most hardened cinephile, but more often they play on some of the most famous and stand-out scenes. Take the slushy strings and romance of the final scene of Life in the Fast Lane, in which Marge storms the nuclear plant to literally sweep Homer off his feet – an obvious replication of the famous ending of An Officer and a Gentleman. Similarly, the Dustin Hoffman-voiced teacher Mr Bergstrom in Lisa’s Substitute, nervously asking Mrs Krabappel if she’s trying to seduce him, is a direct homage to the most famous scene of The Graduate – complete with identical camera shot under Krabappel’s bent knee. The climactic scene of the same movie also inspires Homer’s window-pounding for Marge in One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish.
Itchy and Scratchy get in on the act too, with their cartoon Reservoir Cats featuring the famous ear slice and dice from Reservoir Dogs – although more violent, of course. A Miracle on Evergreen Terrace features the same feelgood festive singsong final scene as It’s a Wonderful Life, despite the fact that Homer is far less gracious than Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey.
The greatest tribute comes courtesy of the famous shower scene of Alfred Hitchcock’s seminal shocker Psycho, parodied to perfection courtesy of Maggie’s pummelling of Homer’s head with a paint can in Itchy and Scratchy and Marge – complete with the music, camera angles and running blood-red paint.
Find out the other film homages and Simpson-related features in
Image © Visual Imagination, Simpsons © 20th Century Fox, Reservoir Dogs © Miramax
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