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‘Triplets of Belleville’ Director Sylvain Chomet Does French ‘Simpsons’ Couch Gag (Updated)

I’ve got just two words for the latest Simpsons couch gag created by Triplets of Belleville and The Illusionist director Sylvain Chomet:

C’est magnifique!

UPDATE #2: The Simpsons piece was animated in the U.K. by Neil Boyle and Peter Dodd (and their animation assistants), and art directed by Kirk Hendry. Yesterday, we also posted Boyle’s new personal film, The Last Belle, without realizing that he had animated The Simpsons piece. Boyle has written a comprehensive look at the making of the Simpsons opening on his blog. Here’s one of Boyle’s drawings from the sequence:

UPDATE #1: We have been reminded that The Simpsons mercilessly parodied Chomet’s Triplettes of Belleville in the 2011 episode “Angry Dad: The Movie.”

  • jonhanson

    Well that’s a headline I didn’t expect!

    And then the weirdness of the concept was exceeded by the execution. I can’t tell what was more bizare, the character designs, the gags or the animation. That sort of shimmy that Homer did at the end will haunt my dreams. In the best way possible of course.

  • Abel Sanchez

    Oh La la!

  • Matthew Koh

    First, John Kricfalusi
    Then, Bill Plympton
    Now, Sylvain Chomet
    Who’s next in line?

    • it’s basically a who’s who of today’s indie animation super stars

    • jimmortensen

      David O’Reilly.

      Just to name some hopefuls. :)

      • Jack Daniels Old Number 7

        Hertzfeld would be amazing. I would love to see how he would take the simpsons and make them morbidly hilarious.

      • Kirby

        Oh Man, PLEASE let David O’Reilly make one.

      • Saturnome

        The three suggestions are perfect.
        Just for fun, I’d like to see a Cyriak couch gag. That could scare some people.

      • AmidAmidi

        Emma De Swaef & Marc James Roels in their wooly ‘Oh Willy…’ stop motion style would be marvelous:

    • Beamish Kinowerks

      Joanna Quinn or Frank & Caroline Mouris would be terrific.

    • Wanker

      Glen Keane

    • Mr-Famicom

      I’m hoping for Toshihiko Masuda, Nobuo Tomizawa, Kenji Hachizaki, Hiroyuki Aoyama (He just did some Space Dandy outsourcing for Bones), Kazuhide Tomonaga and/or Yoshinobu Michihata (not a director per stander, but has worked as a type of director on Here Come The Littles (animation director) & Little Nemo (directing animator)) over at Telecom (TMS) to do a couch gag.

      If you remember that Disney parody in Road To Multiverse on Family Guy, you will know what I’m talking about in terms of a animation bump.

      Expect something like this but with digital coloring.

      Or this.

      Just please start airing good animation again Fox, has Korra’s construction & detail taught you nothing about running a cartoon?

      • Chris Sobieniak

        Yeah that Batman episode was excellent.

    • Connor MacLeod

      Jan Svankmeyer would top my dream list.

    • WJD

      Hopefully the Bros Quay.

    • Megan

      Is it insane to hope for Richard Williams?

    • Chris Sobieniak

      I know a few who’d want Hayao Miyazaki pestered to do one but I’m sure he wouldn’t.

    • Debergerack

      Don’t forget Robot Chicken.

  • Shmorky

    I have a feeling no one will be able to top this one now.

  • mick

    I doff my chapeau to all involved

  • John Andalora

    This is some of the most fluid animation I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
    I mean, DAMN!

    • Debergerack

      This is comparable to theatrical 2d animation…

  • I often say the only good thing about The Simpsons these days are the couch gags….and yeah, this was pretty cool. Hope they keep up the trend they started with John K and get more guest directors for these.

  • MRKid

    Ahhh, brilliant!!!

  • unfunny thought

    not that the original designs were fred moore approved or anything but this is proof things can always get uglier. grotesque

    • Joseph Patrick

      There’s a charm in the grotesque, if you ask me.

  • Tony

    Mmmm… escargot.

  • Chris

    Wish he could get another feature going…

  • Lili


    • Satorical

      It’s self-parody of a Frenchman at the same time it parodies The Simpsons. DIY pate kit FOR KIDS?! C’mon, that’s brilliant.

      • Funkybat

        That gag also showed an appreciation for the character’s themselves. Having Bart, who will do pretty much any transgressive thing once for the hell of it, start force feeding the duck, to set up animal activist Lisa stepping in to stop him, was perfect, while still playing up the whole “Zey arr Frahnch” thing.

        My only question is; why were they all wearing glasses?

    • mick

      what makes you say that?

  • Kris Kail

    the simpsons strong point was never the animation

    • Myst AnimatorX

      I’m focusing on the intro mostly here. I know the animation was never that great.

      • *

        I need to just throw my 2 cents into this point about the Simpsons animation not being ‘good’…

        For me I love the animation in (early) Simpsons shows. It was the FEEL of the shots – the complete package.

        No one here has mentioned the layout and preproduction side of the argument and how much this helped the animation, but also how bad, boring and pedestrian the layout is nowadays. The composition and structure of a lot of the shots used to be really really solid and had that magical sense of ‘appeal’ – everything used to look spot on. They also used v imaginative camera angles and really pushed the boat out a lot of the time with some great set piece moments which were complemented by great layout, colour design, imaginative camera angles, lighting and so on. Get all of these elements right and you can have a held cel and it would still kick ass. Other people have posted great examples of some really fun and great animation in the show. Like the Disney films they would know where and when to push the boat out and have a ‘money shot’. And all of this on a TV budget – impressive. This is a perfect example of where things have gone so wrong for the show:

        And that’s what they used to – IMHO – get right so well and what is lacking today. I’m also a fan of that thick chunky cel line look in the original shows – going digital killed so much charm and someone needs to be hung out for not working out a better way to make the show look better when pumped through a computer.

        I agree the animation at times was merely functional but it also had a lot of appeal for me due to the above. I think there was a golden period in the show’s production (Seasons 3-5) when the right blend of writers AND great artists came together and magic happened.

    • Roberto Gonzalez

      I don’t Know. I think they had some nice Animation sometimes. Some dream sequences, The Raven segment in THOH 1, Homer going crazy in The Shinning segment and other ex amplíes. Now everything is too rigid, not squash and stretch at all.

      And for the couch gag. I Love the backgrounds and the way Santa Littles Helper is drawn/animated but the rest doesnt do much for me.

      • SarahJesness

        While the Simpsons animation was never spectacular, I do think that it hasn’t been very… good the past several years. It looks like they have a strict on-model policy these days, which prevents the characters from having cartoonish movements or expressions, which I think is detrimental to the show. It feels kind of sterile and lifeless.

        • Roberto Gonzalez

          I actually think that, in many cases, this is a bigger problem than the scripts. Yes, the scripts are not as good as before and sometimes they are horrible but at least until season 20/21 there were a good amount of decently written episodes that would have worked better with the old Animation. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that one of the last episodes I really loved was The good, the sad and the ugly, which has some inspired visual ideas.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        For me, I still think of Kevin Petrilak and his wonderful work on the opening credit sequence in the first season alone, but then, that’s just the opening sequence and doesn’t really constitute the main series itself.

    • Funkybat

      The character designs and environments, props, etc. on the Simpsons always looked rather rough and primitive (now they look sleek and “less primitive” FWIW) but the character animation and storyboarding were usually either very good or exceptional. It had a lot of life and vibrancy in the early seasons, especially the now-mostly-disregarded Klasky-Csupo era. There were a few ugly shots and just plain bad drawings in the first season, but overall the show was an animation funhouse. Compare that to King of the Hill, which really was all about the writing and acting, though the consistently staid and simple visuals lent something to its success BECAUSE they fit so well the characters and what was going on.

      I wish the Simpsons had never “cleaned up” their designs, and I don’t just mean the second or third pass they went through when the show went HD after the Simpsons Movie, I mean after the 5th or 6th season. Reminds me of what happened to Garfield, though the quality of the writing hasn’t slipped as badly.

  • IJK

    Why are they all wearing glasses? I didn’t know that was a Chomet “trademark” if you will.

    • Plonker

      Watch Triplettes of Belleville and Old Lady and the Pigeons. Sylvain doesn’t draw eyes – especially not big cartoon eyes.

    • Joseph Patrick

      I think it has to do with the Simpsons generally having large eyes with small pupils and alot of whites. I’d imagine the idea of giving them glasses magnifies their eyes to look more like this, but in a creative way.

  • The Banksy one was also cool, but I like seeing the Simpsons being drawn in such drastically different styles. So yeah. More animation directors would be the awesome. :)

  • Alê Camargo

    That’s brilliant! And it also reminds me – nowadays, the “guest” couch gags are the only part of the Simpsons that I watch.

  • jhalpernkitcat

    I lost it at the punchline! I also liked the scene with the goose.

    • Funkybat

      I liked that the punchline was something that came out of left field, but once you saw it, it felt like you *should* have seen it coming. Surprise is a rare commodity in television comedy today.

  • Joseph Patrick

    Is it me, or does anybody else find it hilarious that Bart is choking a goose that he got from a box labeled “for kids?”

    • TStevens

      So that one is basically a French joke. Foie Gras is goose liver and here they are calling patte (probably for the American audience). To get Foie Gras geese are force fed so they get fatter and fatter and then they are slaughtered just for the liver. There have been major animal rights groups that have come out against the practice. That basically sets up the joke for Lisa to swat Bart.
      So he really isn’t choking it so much as he is force feeding it by ramming corn down its throat.

    • mick

      box labelled ‘DIY goose liver pate for kids’

  • Capital_7

    I’ll bet John K wishes he could have a do over now.

  • Mister Twister

    Et tu, Sylvain?

  • George Comerci

    I love it!

  • Saturnome
    • One of my favorite little chunks of animation ever!

  • Don’t forget the entire Banksy open. It’s hard to top slave labor unicorns. I do hope Chomet comes back to another hand-drawn feature. The Illusionist was just perfect film making, and more lovely illustration than bouncing of photons.

    • Funkybat

      I hope Chomet does another feature that actually plays up his sense of humor and sociopolitical commentary. Triplets was fantastic, but for all the visual beauty, The Illusionist was slow and unexciting. I know he was adapting a Tati script, so it might just be that the storytelling doesn’t match Americans’ taste, but I loved his earlier stuff that was so gonzo and creepy, yet charming and beautiful. There wasn’t very much creepy or weird in The Illusionist.

  • ddrazen

    Maggie’s fate reminds me of Lois being crushed in bed by Peter from an ep of “Family Guy.”

  • Roberto Severino

    Awesome. The only thing keeping this dinosaur sized corpse show relevant in any way. I’d like to see a Bill Wray Stephen DeStefano intro in the style of the Rauch Bros. Storycorps shorts ideally.

  • Uli Meyer

    That is really terrific. Animated by Neil Boyle and Peter Dodd if I’m not mistaken.
    Not too long ago I pitched the idea to animate a Ronald Searle style couch gag. Unfortunately it got turned down.

    • Myst AnimatorX

      Uli those are fantastic!

    • Roberto Severino

      Man. These are such amazing drawings. Shame they weren’t used.

    • give it time…would love to see this!

    • Uli Meyer

      I apologise for hijacking this thread but I couldn’t resist to share this. Here’s a Searlesque Grandpa.

  • Uli Meyer
  • Mureta

    An animal is tortured and killed, as a joke. FUCK THIS SHIT!

    • Henry Cohn

      I found it very funny.

  • Matthew

    They should do a whole episode that’s just one long couch gag. That would get me to watch the show again.

  • Funkybat

    I LOVED when the show was primarily simply drawn in the style of Matt’s own hand, but then every few minutes there would be some brief (or extended) flourish like this. The dance sequence between Bart and his older girl crush, the “Guatemalan Insanity Peppers” trip, many of the older Itchy & Scratchy cartoons……THAT is what made the Simpsons more than just another “writers cartoon.”

    • Chris Sobieniak

      And as usual we tend to think of it as a writer’s show the way it’s presented. You could really do more than that on there.

  • Zartok-35

    The openings, anyway. If only they’d have talented storytellers to write the actual episodes!

    • Debergerack

      Nooo that makes too much sense…

  • Pooprat

    Speak for yourself. I’ve been loving the CG stuff Disney’s been doing as of late, it’s gotten to the point where I don’t even care anymore that an animated film is in CG and I can’t believe more people don’t share this point of view.

  • Barry Munkton

    I clicked the link to Neil Boyle’s blog and it says he had to take the posting down. Boooo!