Beat Sheet Analysis: The Simpsons Movie

September 19, 2010

Based on Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet Structure

Numbers are minutes, based on the Showcase canada airing of the movie last weekend, after I trimmed the commercials out.

Opening image: Green Day playing on their barge in Lake Springfield. I’m dismissing everything before this as throaway gags that have no bearing on the theme or the plot of the movie, and thus can’t feel that they qualify. (3)

Theme stated: This is tough. The closest I can figure from before the catalyst is just sneaking in under the wire… (15)
Homer: Hey, what’s with you?
Bart: You really wanna know?
Homer: Of course I do. What kind of father wouldn’t care about… (gets distracted by the pig.)

Set-up: The church scene, Homer doing chores, and Lisa meeting Colin. Grandpa’s experience at the church is a foreshadowing of the catalyst, but it doesn’t catalyze anything itself. (4-15)

Catalyst: Homer takes the pig home from Krusty burger, and Marge recognizes the twisted tail from Grandpa Simpson’s ravings. (16-17)

Debate: All the general town hubbub about pollution in Lake Springfield would seem to fit here. More relevantly, when Marge finds out about the pig silo, and warns Homer that he has to dispose of it properly, this is a clear debate and lead-in to act two. Of course, if Homer does it right, there wouldn’t be a movie, would there? (20-23)

Break into two: But there are free donuts at stake, so Homer can’t wait in line at the waste processing factory – he drives through the no dumping signs around the lake and tosses the silo in. Things start to go bad. (24-25)

B story: Here, I’d say that the B story has to do with Homer’s relationship with his family, and particularly Bart’s disillusions and friendship with Flanders. This starts quite early, at (18) and eventually pays off at (72)

Fun and games: President Ahnold, the Dome, Russ Cargill, Trappucino, Maggie in the sinkhole. Even the mob of ‘peasants’ coming after them seems to fit under ‘the promise of the premise,’ and the Simpsons on the run. (26-41)

Midpoint: The simpsons starting over in Alaska, a false peak (42-50)

Bad guys close in: Operation Blow up Springfield, Marge and the other Simpsons want to go to stop them. Homer refuses. (51-54)

All is lost: Homer finds out that his family has left to go back to Springfield, and Marge has lost all faith in him. (55-58)

Dark night of the soul: This is the Inuit Boob lady part, and Homer’s vision. (59-60)

Break into three: Homer’s epiphany, about other people being more important to him than himself. (61)

Finale: Marge, Bart, and Lisa are captured by Russ Cargill and thrown back into Springfield, along with the bomb. Homer refuses to give up in the snow, climbs his way up the dome, and spoils the rest of the town’s escape plan by accident. He gives up again, but is shown the way by the ‘epipha-tree’… and stops by the church to reach out to Bart. They manage to throw the bomb out of the dome and shatter it, and Russ Cargill tries to take revenge for his scheme being foiled. (62-66)

Final image: All of Springfield is cheering for Homer, and rebuilding his house. With Lisa and Colin working off-screen to clean up the lake, after they get ice cream. (67-68)

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