The Simpsons: Barthood Review

Here is our review of The Simpsons: Season 27 Episode 9.

This The Simpsons review contains spoilers.

The Simpsons: Season 27 Episode 9.

Ah movie parodies, is there nothing they can’t solve? Richard Linklater’s Boyhood was a cinematic breakthrough made over a ten-year span to cut down on old age makeup. The Simpsons’ “Barthood” was practically made live, costing the lives of thousands of exhausted animators on two continents. The Simpsons’ movie parodies are on par with Mad magazine’s record, for better and worse. This episode captured the poignancy and wit of one of the most definitive coming-of-age films with a much more subtle humor than The Simpsons usually offers.

But let’s start with Lisa. She’s really great in this, so accomplished, smart and unself-conscious. Sure, she has to settle for Yale but she invents the artificial pituitary gland and saves the star at some daredevil bike extravaganza. Her relationship with her brother has always been a conflicted one, but the two have been partners in crime much more than they’ve been at odds with each other. Together, they’ve saved Springfield, Krusty the Clown and America at large several times over, separately they’ve just made a mess, like bringing back the dead and such. Lisa is always looking out for her older brother. It may seem like a pain in the ass, but it can come in handy when the helmets drop.

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It was a tad disconcerting to see little Maggie all grown up and dating the baby with the one eyebrow, her dreaded nemesis all these years. I guess that’s what happens in these small towns where no one goes anywhere and time stands still long enough to make ramen but not enough to keep a crusty old muttering curmudgeon alive. It was also a little creepy that Terry and Sherry are so sexually self-aware while Bart remained so clueless. The roto-rooter effect in the couch gag was surprisingly uncreepy.

Juvenile detention looks good on Millhouse. He will one day fulfill the promise he gave when he had a long-lost foster parent after he thought he lost his parents. The Simpsons keep trying on that rebel without paws persona and he just might fit it one day.

Marge didn’t in much of an appearance either and when she did she was a little clingy with the past. But she let little Bart zap Homer with his own invisible post-traumatic stress darts, so she’s sweetly indulgent, ever the mother of enablers.

It was good to see Homer puff out with Chief Wiggum. Not because we want to more cops mixing pot with Tasers but because it, once again, shows that The Simpsons will commit to a joke. We haven’t seen Chief Wiggum toke since the episode with the blind guy and the collie who made Santa’s Little Helper look like a tired also-ran greyhound. Homer has always flirted with opening up about his weed intake, I mean he headed the proposal to legalize it in the town, but Wiggum is the guy who always seems to have the munchies. That being said, they also commit to the most tired of clichés about the verdant weed. It doesn’t make you think you can fly. Even though it does give you that ability. Really. Try it.

At the center of the episode are the father-son and grandfather and son relationships. Neither are that great. Both suffer from some kind of mental wreckage, but Bart and Homer’s eternal disconnect will endure. Homer doesn’t have all the answers, or any answers, but he knows how to save on windshield wipers. It’s not that big a savings and it probably costs more in the long run, what with finding the right rubber and all, but it is a piece of wisdom that can really bond a family.

Bart is always on a bike or skateboards. Though he does drive Abe around in the 1959 Studebaker Starlander Commander, he never quite graduates to driving a car. He does get to leave Millhouse to be rounded up by the cops for the lightmare on Maple Street crimes, tased and sent into the system well on the road to a future as a career criminal until he screws that up with graduation into flight attendant school. El Barto has always had the soul of an artist. But when he finds bike customization, he really finds a niche. And it’s all because of Lisa, one of his favorite sisters. The middle Simpson kid will go far in life and Bart will always be right there with her, borrowing money.

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No one mentions that there are no renderings of Maggie in his shop. She must have really done a number on him.

“Barthood” was well made and intelligent, poignant and funny, but it was a muted episode overall. Generally, The Simpsons use film parody as a springboard to lunacy, but sometimes they are a little too reverential. They remained faithful to the style and feel of the original and used it to forward the characterizations. But as in most Simpsons-of-the-future episodes, they contradict and will one day be contradicted. This was an inspired episode that stayed on the safe side. Wait, I have to take a call.

“Barthood” was written by Dan Greaney and directed by Rob Oliver. The Simpsons stars Dan Castellaneta as Homer Simpson, Julie Kavner as Marge Simpson, Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson and Nelson, Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson. Hank Azaria plays Chief Wiggum and Professor Frink. Harry Shearer is Mr. Burns. Pamela Hayden plays Millhouse and Jimbo Jones.

But It All Went By So Fast: They Read. They Write. They Read and Read and Write. Itchy and Scratchy I Can Bleed Reader. My sun is kid of the year at Sprinfeeld Elementary. This car does not play NPR. Abraham Simpson Beloved Father and Mutterer. Duff Scorecard Bart Simpson: Broken Necks 3; Sketchy Endorsements – 27; Stokage – 8; Rad Moves -78; Career Air Time: 2 Days 3 Minutes. Golden Crutch Award.  Duff Scorecard Lisa Simpson: G.P.A 4.0; Animals Rescued – 1032; Trees planted – 10,638; Presidential Medals – 3; Tardies – 0. Millhouse’s face is on the water tower. Krusty’s balloon goes up in flames – after hitting the water tower with Millhouse’s face on it.


4 out of 5