"We're going to keep trying to strengthen the American family. To make them more like the Waltons and less like the Simpsons."
-- George H.W. Bush, during his bid for re-election in 1992. He lost.
To steal the words of Homer Simpson: Woohoo!
It's only five days and counting until America's favorite yellow, dysfunctional family makes its long-awaited feature film debut. "The Simpsons Movie!" careens into theaters Friday promising all the Simpsons that couldn't be shown on television -- including, it's rumored, a little more of smarmy young Bart than anyone would want to see (Ay, caramba!).
Exactly what the movie is about, however, is a mystery even bigger than what the J. stood for in Homer J. Simpson. (It, ahem, stood for Jay.) Since we can't talk about the movie and we would need volumes to encapsulate the 400 episodes from the long-running television series, we'll present, instead, a brief snapshot from the Simpson family album.
*Homer Simpson: A beer-swilling, doughnut-obsessed lovable lug of an idiot, Homer has somehow managed not to destroy the planet while on the job at Springfield's nuclear power plant. We'd like to say it's not Homer's fault that he's such an imbecile, but that's not quite the truth: His stupidity was linked to the crayon lodged in his brain that he stuck up his nose as a kid.
*Marge: The matriarch of the Simpson clan, homemaker Marge can be her own worst enemy as she enables her family's crazy hijinks. The poor thing is probably just plain dizzy from having to balance that towering blue beehive on her head.
*Bart: The kid who made under-achieving a notable accomplishment, 10-year-old Bart is a prank-loving brat. However, this little monster has made such an impression on pop culture that Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.
*Lisa: The genius 8-year-old is a baritone sax-playing vegetarian Buddhist. Lisa and big bro Bart ranked No. 11 in TV Guide's "Top 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All Time."
*Maggie: The perennially pacifier-sucking infant was once accidentally "swiped" and priced at $847.63 (the cost of raising a baby for one month). Her first word, "Daddy," was famously squeeked out by Elizabeth Taylor.
In the 20 years since the Simpsons clan debuted as mere sketches of themselves on "The Tracey Ullman Show," the TV series has defied logic by becoming the longest-running American animated program and longest-running sitcom. With its 19th season slated to begin Sept. 23, the Fox sitcom will chase Marshal Matt Dillon and "Gunsmoke" to overtake the record (20 seasons) as the longest running prime-time series of any kind.
Before that happens, fans will be able to hop on the Simpsons amusement park ride, planned for a Spring 2008 opening at Universal Studios' Hollywood and Orlando theme parks.
The show also has its own star star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and it was lauded by Time magazine as the 20th century's best TV series.
It didn't take long for Simpsonspeak to become a part of pop culture, including such phrases as Bart's, "Don't have a cow, man" and "Cowabunga!" Plus, Mr. Burns' drawn-out "exxxxx-cellent." (Let's not forget "okily-dokily" and "yoink!)
Nothing, however, compares to the popularity of Homer's exclamation of "D'oh!" Recently entered into the Oxford English Dictionary, "D'oh!" has been heard on such shows as "How I Met Your Mother," "SpongeBob SquarePants," "Stargate SG-1," and feature films, including "Toy Story," "Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties" and "Chicken Little."
On ESPN's "SportsCenter," former anchor Kenny Maynes once said: "That must be a Homer 'cause the pitcher just said 'Do'h!'"
>Famous guest stars
Where can you find music superstars Tony Bennett, U2 and Metallica; authors J.K. Rowling and Amy Tan; movie villain Freddy Krueger; tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams; former British Prime Minister Tony Blair; Jack Bauer, and movie villain Freddy Krueger?
On "The Simpsons."
They are among the hundreds of celebrities who have made guest appearances on "The Simpsons," earning the show the Guinness Book of World Records title for "most celebrities featured in an animated series."
>The world, according to Homer
Homer: Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals ... except the weasel.
Homer: Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.
Marge: Homer, the plant called. They said if you don't show up tomorrow don't bother showing up on Monday.
Homer: Woohoo! Four-day weekend.
Marge: Homer, is this the way you pictured married life?
Homer: Pretty much. Except we drove around in a van solving mysteries.