During its eighth season, The Simpsons (Fox) surpassed The Flintstones as the longest-running primetime cartoon, and it's no mistake that the milestone episode was "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show," a brilliant deconstruction of The Simpsons' battles with its network and fans, and the curse of familiarity. Other highlights from the season find the show in a similarly reflective mood, such as the unexpectedly dark appraisal of Homer's character in the notorious Frank Grimes episode. And if you're just in it for the silly, there's Albert Brooks as a corporate supervillain, "beer baron" Homer stirring homemade liquor in his basement, and Milhouse's dad singing "Can I Borrow A Feeling"
Hey, remember National Lampoon's Vacation? Remember when Robin Williams was funny? No? Then you might not mind RV (Sony), a Vacation-like film in which Williams and his awful family bond while occasionally getting covered in streams of human waste. Fitting
Scary Movie 4 (Weinstein Co.) spoofs all of pop culture's most obvious targets from the few years since Scary Movie 3. Directed by Airplane! vet David Zucker, it isn't particularly funny, but at least it's a less aggressive brand of unfunny than its Wayans-centric predecessors
At $15 million, Hoot (New Line) was a relatively cheap movie to make, but it still didn't make it into the black at the box office. No matter—the DVD will probably be a huge hit with parents. Its charming little story about a bunch of misfit kids who team up to save some burrowing owls from an evil developer is bland as a bowl of warm milk, and utterly safe for children and the easily bruised alike. Too bad it's kinda dull, too
The Dardenne brothers collected their second Palme D'Or after Rosetta with L'Enfant (Sony), which slightly scales back their handheld aesthetic, but not the raw need and emotional urgency that propels their most urgent stories of underclass desperation. When two young hustlers have a baby together, the father quickly sells it on the black market; needless to say, a wad of cash is no consolation for the mother. Their efforts to get the child back are the stuff of a first-rate thriller.