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Springfield Adds Groundskeeper Willie to its Missing Persons List

I saw The Simpsons Movie last night and am happy to say: "Woo hoo! I saw The Simpsons Movie last night!" In other words, the celluloid version does not disappoint. I laughed throughout, squirmed only a few times, occasionally shook my head in wonder, and smirked often at the cleverness of all 11 credited writers .

At moments during the movie, I looked around to gauge the collective joy in the theater. After all, the show's migration to the screen is a notable moment in pop culture history. I was relieved to find the crowd fat and happy with Simpson mania.

Groundskeeper Willie is MIA in The Simpsons Movie

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That's not to say that some fans won't be disappointed. Let's face it, there are plenty of Simpsons fans who, a la Comic Book Guy , revel in purist condescension. They are expecting to find the Hollywood treatment a bastardization of the 18-year-old television show .

You'll be able to spot those surly folks in your theater, but watch them closely. My guess is they'll find it hard not to laugh at Homer's chain saw impersonation, his pig/spider song, or Bart's naked skateboarding bit, which builds and builds in perfect comedic structure and payoff. Not to mention the many gags and one-liners that manage to be both funny and so culturally astute they make your head spin.

Homer is Homer magnified, a knucklehead extraordinare. But he's also the Homer you've come to know and love. You shouldn't expect any big revealations or character evolutions just because Springfield went Hollywood. The movie is really one long episode, which isn't to say it's bad. Thankfully, I found it to be the same reliable product, with slightly better animation and a broader plot.

However, I do wish The Simpsons Movie included more of the secondary characters. I, for one, can never get enough of Apu or Milhouse , and they are pretty scarce in the movie. And, it's just downright cruel that the writers left out Groundskeeper Willie . How do you explain such deprivation? It will stand as one of the greatest mysteries.

I was talking with a colleague who said he thought The Simpsons isn't nearly as good as it was three or four years ago. I wonder if that's really true, or if some generations have just become so familiar with the schtick, it only appears to have gone stale. There were certainly plenty of kids in the theater last night offering up full belly laughs.

Some very good friends and die-hard Simpsons fans (Hi Pam and Aaron) will be seeing the movie on Saturday night. I can't wait to hear what they think since they are a valuable litmus test. When I first met Pam, I walked into her office to find almost three shelves of Simpsons characters. I knew, at that moment, there would be the occasional HA HA! in our future and maybe a Ralph impersonation or two.

While I wait for Pam and Aaron to report back, let me know what you think. Was The Simpsons Movie worth the wait? Did you love it or hate it? Has anybody seen Groundskeeper Willie?

-- Angela Carone produces arts and culture programming for These Days and Culture Lust . Please read our guidelines before posting comments.