Warning; this review contains spoilers.
When I saw the title to this week’s episode, it was immediately obviously that I was not going to enjoy the next twenty minutes of my life. Boyhood is the most pretentious nothing film I’ve ever seen and it would be one of the last things I would like to see The Simpsons spoof. I admit that filming a movie over twelve years as your cast ages is a unique and impressive feat but if that is your plan then actually do something interesting. Boyhood had pretty much no story and all of the characters were incredibly annoying with their pompous opinions, especially the teenager because he was far from the savant he thought he was. Then you throw in the awkward lingering shots of technology of the time to prove when you are filming, ARGH! Lisa summed up Boyhood perfectly in the first thirty seconds of this episode, “a notable experiment that failed”. Ok, this is not a review of Boyhood, I really could go on but I don’t think anyone really wants that so why don’t we turn to the real subject matter.
As I said previously I really do think that the concept of Boyhood is interesting and for that reason I did hold out some hope for The Simpsons version of this movie because The Simpsons are nothing, if not creative. Unfortunately for that to happen they would’ve had to ditched the similar plot as well and then it’s barely a spoof. Barthood was very much Boyhood with yellow people, so congratulations to The Simpsons cast and crew for sticking to the goal but since I hate the source material that did not suit me at all. Bart was complaining about no one paying attention to him the whole story without actually doing anything about it and for that I have no sympathy. Luckily most of the ostentatious ramblings were saved for the garbage art house film but it didn’t help that the replacement idea was just as annoying.
My one remaining hope after the story are the jokes and Barthood fell extremely flat in this regard. Once I felt a chuckle but even after I’ve given up hope on the primary humor I can always rely on the background jokes. At least I thought I could, the few times I caught a flash of the backseat gags I paused to only be disappointed again. The grandiosity of the Boyhood storyline bled through and killed all hopes at humour. Sure there was jokes but when there was they were either poor or felt out of place in this kind of story.
Generally it’s interesting to see the characters grow older because it’s out of the remit of a normal Simpsons episode. Case in point, Lisa’s Wedding, an classic episode set in the futuristic world of 2010 when trees have become a thing of the past. In that story it was fun to see the characters age and the continuous excuses to stop Maggie from talking were witty but if you are going to have your characters age again, don’t rehash old jokes. I would have been much more impressed if they had actually gotten Maggie to talk this time around, it would have been a completely unexpected joke reminiscent of the visibility of Little Bart in The Simpsons Movie.
Thematically there is no chance of a secondary story and the Barthood storyline is your only chance at entertainment this week. For the people that enjoy the Boyhood spoof that would have been a great relief because it would not have gelled well but that didn’t help me. I was forced to eat what I was given and I did not enjoy my vegetables. Lisa became unlikable, which is fine if she is going to learn a lesson by the end and return to normal but no she was just an awfully selfish person. Homer also fell victim to this terrible storytelling and the sight of Homer smoking a bong should be saved for graffiti alone. It makes no sense for Homer to be a stoner and give Bart the moral high ground in any case. Bart’s mullet here is completely unforgivable, oh and don’t even get me started on Lisa and Nelson dating, EUCH!
If you enjoyed Boyhood then I have a feeling this episode would not disappoint you. If like me, you don’t enjoy Boyhood and only The Simpsons then you will be extremely upset. If you are somewhere in between, liking both then again I think chances are you will be pretty upset. No matter which way you look at it, I don’t think it was a very good idea to run an episode about Bart’s behaviour, directly after an episode about Bart’s behaviour. For respect of the characters and the show alone I give this episode a 0.5 out of 5 stars.