One of the greatest things about The Simpsons (and of most great comedies) is the way the plot often drifts here and there making the audience think the episode is about one thing when, really, it settles on a completely different theme altogether. The comedy is in the journey from point to point, and the latest episode, “Walking Big and Tall,” classically illustrates this point with a chuckle-worthy episode filled with better-than-usual site gags.
We begin with a flashback to an earlier, more innocent Springfield where a young, vibrant Hans Moleman is mayor and introduces the town anthem. Flash-forward several decades and the anthem is revealed to be a copy sold to towns across the Midwest. Moleman and, in one of many random site gags, Pharrell Williams are both run out of town tied to horses for their anthem failures.
Enter Bart and Lisa who construct a new anthem, dedicated to the mediocrity of the town. Their song construction process is fairly amusing, especially the inclusion of the classic “look at this new sound!” site gag used in every clichéd music biopic. When the kids receive a standing ovation, Homer is unable to free himself from the tight theater seats causing mass destruction when the entire row of chairs rips from the floor and plows into the audience. The event is captured in the “Springfield Shopper” with the title “Blimp Disaster!”
And the plot takes yet another turn as Marge urges Homer to do something about his weight gain. Marge urges Homer to attend “Over-feeders Anonymous” at the Springfield Community Center – “Solve your problems in this depressing building” is its slogan.
Homer strolls through the various Anonymous meetings before stumbling into “Big is Beautiful,” a meeting of supporting “big and beautiful pride” with the slogan “You go, girth!” It even has a period table of food on the wall accompanied by a “From my cold dead hands” poster of a cupcake. Thrilled, Homer’s new steps to overweight acceptance is to make amends with the bathroom scale and the broken porch swing (which, I didn’t know the Simpson family had a porch swing…).
As with many recent episodes, this outing calls back to the Great Simpsons Days of Yore, particularly one of my personally all-time favorite episodes where Homer gains weight to go disability (“Fat don’t fail me now!”), making a cameo appearance later. There are also many site gags in the episode, particularly in Bart and Lisa’s new Springfield anthem segment.
There are also a roughly equal amount of questionable fat jokes – the leader of the “Big is Beautiful” movement (voiced by voice-over superstar Kevin Michael Richardson) steps from his Little Rascal and promptly dies of a heart attack. His ashes take about 10 urns and an “overflow bag” to contain – funny enough but a little obvious for my tastes.
We end with a call-out to classic Simpsons sentimentality as Marge confesses love for Homer and will remain faithful to him no matter how many times he yo-yo diets. The very last scene is a flash-forward sequence proving that Homer can indeed lose weight, which allows for one more amusing site gag involving a robotic Bart and Millhouse combo.
Best line of the night: Responding to a protest (“End the Thinsanity!”) of his Forever 21 Waist store, the owner says, “You, my friend, are wrong! Every girl should look like a sexy praying mantis from Milan whose hips are narrower than an Italian parliamentary majority.”