The greatest obstacle The Simpsons Movie faced was cultural relevance. Released between seasons 18 and 19 of the show, after 874 episodes (exaggeration), after many fans had stopped prioritizing weekly viewings, and ten years later than it should have been, the movie could have struggled to find an audience. Instead, 7-11s were turned into Kwik-E-Marts around the country, among other successful promotions, and the Simpsons effortlessly grasped the zeitgeist as if it were 1992. It's well deserved. The Simpsons Movie is a joyous realization of the possibilities of delving into the world of Springfield and beyond at feature length -- far beyond, in fact, as the Simpson clan relocates temporarily (and hilariously) to Alaska. Almost every recurring character gets at least one chance to strut his or her stuff -- with the exception of Rainier Wolfcastle, who's replaced by the real-world person his character satirizes: "President Schwarzenegger."
The plot is not so outrageous that it exceeds anything that could happen on a regular episode, but that's undoubtedly a good thing, as it keeps the show's essential dynamics in place, instead of blowing everything up in a case of excess ambition. However, one byproduct is that it's possible to watch the movie, enjoy it immensely, and then forget a lot of what happened soon afterward. But during, there's plenty to laugh at, including the aftermath of Springfield being enclosed in a dome to contain a Homer-created ecological disaster; the writers' continued fondness for poking fun at the Fox network and breaking the fourth wall; and an awesomely unexpected use of cartoon nudity. At the same time, there's a good dose of sentiment, as Julie Kavner's Marge gets to act out one of her most heartbreaking disappointed-in-Homer speeches of all time. The extra depth and tactility of the animation further sets it apart from the small screen. If The Simpsons Movie can't be considered a classic, it's probably because expectations were sky high, and the end result is more of a very funny diversion than an epic summation of everything that's come before. But for a show as old as Abe Simpson in television years, that ain't half bad.