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The Simpsons: Any Given Sundance

Lisa with Jim Jarmusch and John C. Reilly(S19E18)"No more Simpsons' movies! One is enough." -- Marge Simpson

Add Utah to the list of states that the Simpsons have visited since the series began. And, no, they weren't there for some wacky episode about Homer being married to multiple women. They were at the Sundance Film Festival, thanks to Lisa and her wonderful documentary about the family she lives with.

Wonderful to the visitors of the festival, that is. For her family it was a bit humiliating -- as much of Lisa's artistic work is. Being such a free spirit Lisa doesn't think too much of the consequences she wreaks when the creates these various projects. Which is weird coming from someone as smart as her. Then again, she's only 8-years-old. So, should we really be expecting more from her?

Probably not. We tend to forget that she's only 8-years-old because of how worldly she can be. Therefore, she sometimes neglects to respect the feelings of those around her in exchange for fame and the belief that others will be changed by what she has created. As mentioned a few weeks ago during another Lisa-centric episode of The Simpsons, this is Lisa's main weakness. When her brain gets clouded by the prospect of fame and fortune, all of the intelligence seems to be leeched away and replaced by a primal urge to become more and more successful, more and more famous.

A bit too deep for a primetime cartoon? Perhaps, but there isn't much more to talk about in this so-so episode. It was just, for lack of a better word, there. It had a few good moments, and the story was okay, but it just had the feeling of one of those installments where you look up and the show is over. And, the bad thing is you really don't remember what happened.

Maybe it was the sameness that this installment of The Simpsons had to other past episodes (other than the trip to Sundance, that is). It started with a scene that wasn't really connected to the main plot of the story until a few minutes in. Other than highlighting the vast supporting cast of The Simpsons there really wasn't much to the tailgate other than when Lisa decided to film some of the events taking place in the stadium parking lot. Frankly, that documentary would have been better suited for Sundance then her family film was. Then again, this is all a cartoon and the opinions expressed here are absolutely, totally moot.

If anything, this week's installment gave us a chance to meet up with Superintendent Chalmers and and Principal Skinner once again. Thinking about this, it seems like both of these men have been at the center of Lisa's life for quite some time. They were behind her rise to power as Student Council president, and encouraged her to tutor Cletus and his family in a previous season. Now, in the guise of Chalmskin Productions, they were behind her at Sundance in order to achieve their own goals.

Here's my anal-retentive moment of this week's installment: Principal Skinner has to go back into his files to find out who Lisa's family is. Really? This had to be a ploy on Skinner's part to encourage Lisa to produce the documentary. If the producers of The Simpsons are saying that Skinner didn't know who Lisa's brother was then I just may have to go back and debate myself again.

There was only one moment during this week's episode that I sat up and paid attention -- the documentary by Nelson. Similar to the film Barney produced during the Springfield Film Festival, this was a serious piece focusing on how messed up Nelson's life was outside of Springfield Elementary. It was actually pretty sad and, frankly, better than Lisa's documentary. By the by, Nelson's film may have been a direct rip-off of a 1959 French film called The 400 Blows. If that's the case, then the producers really moved into the realm of Dennis Miller with this obscure film.

Finally, a mention about this week's guest voice talent. Jim Jarmusch was actually used well in this episode as he played a sort-of mentor to a confused Lisa. On the other hand, John C. Reilly, who is probably more well-known than Jarmusch, was given very little to do. Because his scene was at the very end of the episode, I was beginning to think that his role may have been cut out of the show entirely.

Next time -- Homer meets his mother for the (apparently) last time.

Who had the better documentary...Lisa or Nelson?

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