Halloween Re:Animated – The Simpsons Halloween Special XXXI
Once again, for The Simpsons Halloween Special XXXI, the series makes an ill-advised foray into political comedy and this time it’s a particularly toothless swipe at the incumbent. This latest Treehouse of Horror seems oddly unwilling to actually name names this time, curious behaviour indeed for a series which previously namechecked him at every conceivable opportunity and has been trading on its record of forecasting the rise of President Trump like some kind of latter-day heavily jaundiced Nostradamus. Flat, immediately dated and profoundly unfunny, the scary thing is how blunt and toothless The Simpsons has become.
“Don’t ask, don’t Mattel.”
The animation’s as flashy as you’d expect but it’s a real problem for a parody if you’re not actually adding any commentary or observation and, in fact, just repeating the plot of the target itself. In this case, it simply recasts Bart in the role of Sid from the first “Toy Story” and then basically plays out exactly as the film does. Once again, we have a Simpsons Halloween Special which mistakes graphic violence and gore for wit and humour. Even the Randy Newman style parody song feels rehashed from the earliest “Family Guy” episodes. There’s just such a lack of funny ideas on display and even with the entire Pixar universe at their fingertips, all they seem to come up with is mean-spirited viciousness.
Into The Homer-verse
“I can’t let you close the portal. It’s the ultimate source of cheap, undocumented labour.”
This would have been a good segment if not for the fact that they already did this idea in “Bart And Homer’s Excellent Adventure” back in Treehouse Of Horror XXIII and better than they do it here. Aside from selecting a grab bag of random Homer’s again the spoof quickly runs aground on its lack of jokes to make about the source material or the specific Homers it’s selected. It briefly picks up when we get a glimpse at the Burns-verse but it’s all over so quickly there’s little time for any of the visual gags to breathe let alone land. It feels like this special has been put together by choosing each segment on the basis of the title pun and then ploughing on regardless of whether it really works or not.
Be Nine, Rewind
“I guess this means I have to throw myself into the woodchipper? Yay.”
Saying this is the best segment of the whole special isn’t saying much but at least here, it manages to stay on its target of “Russian Doll”, although, in terms of being topical, it’s about a year too late. Again and again and again, it uses gore, violence and meanness in place of having a good gag up its sleeve and ultimately, it falls flat because it doesn’t – like every segment this year – have anything interesting or funny to say about its chosen target.
As much as you might want to root for the Simpsons Halloween Special XXXI to rekindle the golden age of The Simpsons (to be honest at this stage, we should be grateful if it managed to merit a bronze), the whole thing feels flat, lifeless and comedically exhausted.
Ivory Lawrence November 13, 2020
Agreed completely with this review. I guess they’re probably just tired at this point.
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