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I saw the Simpsons Movie Thursday night. However, I’m not going to discuss major plot details here. As we learned from Pottergate 2007, Grist readers don’t like spoilers — not even fake ones.

The movie definitely has an environmental theme (one highlight was the scene where Nelson bullies Milhouse into expressing climate change skepticism, then punches him in the face, yelling, “That’s for selling out your beliefs!”), but you’ll have to find out on your own which of the rumors I alluded to in my last post are true.

Going into the film, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Though I rabidly watched The Simpsons back in the day, I haven’t caught a new episode in about six or seven years; they just haven’t been as funny. So how does the widescreen feature-film version compare? Why, as Homer satirically points out in the first scene of the movie, should we pay for something we can see on TV for free?

James L. Brooks returned as a writer for the film, and had a huge hand in its creation; he had worked on the series in its early years and then stepped away for awhile. Brooks said that when developing the movie, “there’s nothing more important to the Simpsons franchise than clocking laughs as much as you possibly can … We always started with the laughs. But we needed that emotion, on which the jokes hang together and which leads the audience to care about the characters.”

It looks like his influence helped immensely. I was pleasantly surprised with the jokes. While not as consistently, rib-splittingly hilarious as the gags in the “golden years” (how I like to think of Seasons Four through Nine), they were still pretty darn funny. I loved the scene showing the church and Moe’s Bar side-by-side. Freaked out by the impending catastrophe, the churchgoers stampede en masse over to the bar, and the drunks in the bar run over to the church to pray.

The movie did have more emotional warmth than the TV episodes; the characters wrestled with issues more suited to the longer story arc. Homer even has an epiphany that doesn’t dissolve by the end of the film. I did, however, wish it was just a little more … over-the-top. It didn’t fully live up to the grandiose, epic-scale movie it was hyped to be, but it was still a great time — and in my opinion, worth paying for.