Look what we have here everybody, an episode that was shockingly more sweet than I remembered, despite revolving around a crayon lodged in someone’s brain!
Things start off with the Simpsons heading to the convention center for some sort of animation convention. Because those are incredibly common. Whatever, it leads to some great gags, like the incredibly accurate joke about anime involving scantily clad women, robots, and post apocalyptic scenery. We also see that all cartoon voices are just rip-offs of famous actors, an old racist Itchy and Scratchy commercial for cigarettes, and Ned and the kids watching a Davey and Goliath parody about sending pipe-bombs to Planned Parenthood. Which is probably something Christian kids actually watch today.
But after the sight-gags we have the family meet together and check out some demonstration for a motion-capture animation company called Animotion. Homer obviously offers to demonstrate the technology, and gets up on the stage to put on the suit. He starts capering about, and the people love it, even when he starts peeing. So Homer has obviously found his next get-rich-quick scheme, and heads down to a stock exchange and buys a whole bunch of stock in Animotion.
And wouldn’t you know, the next day Animotion declares bankruptcy, and Homer loses all of his money. Good going Homer. You would think that at this point in the series Homer would know not to mess with the stock market. So Homer needs money. And after Marge shoots down his genius surrogate mother idea, he heads to Moe’s to complain. And shockingly, Barney has an idea. He apparently makes his money getting tested on by scientists, and tells Homer that he actually makes good money doing that.
So Homer heads to a research lab, and offers to get experimented on. Which doesn’t go well. He takes a diet pill that makes him blind, uses perfume that burns his skin horribly, and just keeps losing a simple pattern game to a mouse that he evidently brought in with him. Which makes the scientists wonder why Homer’s so dumb. They then start looking at the MRI’s of his brain that they took, and are stunned to find something out of the ordinary. A crayon crammed into Homer’s frontal lobe. They theorize that this is what’s causing Homer’s low intelligence (despite the frontal lobe not having a whole lot to do with that) and offer to remove it for him.
So Homer gets the crayon removed, and instantly gets smarter. He heads home to the family, and stuns them with his new intellect, which Marge and Bart have to verify with Lisa, since they aren’t sure if the things he’s saying are true. And everyone’s happy! Especially Lisa, since she now has someone of similar intelligence to talk with. They even go to the library together and spend the day reading and bonding.
And things are just going great for Homer. He spends his time solving Rubix cubes while listening to NPR, delivers a speech to the kids at Springfield Elementary about not sticking things in your nose, uses math to prove that there’s no God, and compiles a safety report on the Plant. And it’s that last thing that gets him in trouble, because Homer sends it straight to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, who promptly head to the Plant to shut it down, causing Homer and all his friends to get laid off.
And just like that, everyone turns on Homer, even to the point that they start burning him in effigy at Moe’s. So Homer freaks out, and heads home to talk with Lisa about this strange phenomenon of people hating smart people. And Lisa just opens up to him and tells him that when you’re smart, people like you less, and that it’s just kind of a rough life. So she gives Homer the advice to just go for a walk and think things through.
So Homer hops in his car and starts driving around, ending up in a movie to watch some terrible romantic comedy. Everyone else in the theater loves the movie, but Homer thinks it’s stupid, and gets yelled at for not going along with everyone else. And with one attempt down, Homer starts wandering the town, finding that no one wants to be nice to smart people. So with no alternatives left, he goes to the research lab and asks them to re-dumb him.
The scientists refuse to do it, but do give him the name of an unlicensed surgeon who would perform the operation. Moe! Sure, why not. Homer heads to Moe’s with a crayon, and asks Moe to hammer it back into his brain. Meanwhile, Lisa is drawing a picture of Homer, and realizes that she’s missing a crayon, and puts it together right as Homer comes home, dumb again. Lisa is obviously devastated about that, but finds that Homer wrote her a letter before he got the crayon again, and reads it. And it’s super emotional. It’s basically telling her that his brief time being smart shows him how special and strong she is for dealing with this all the time. So even though he’s dumb now, she knows that Homer has a deep respect and love for her, and the two embrace. Even though we end with a stupid tag about Homer eating a sandwich instead of enjoying the moment.
This episode is actually really great. There’s some issues, and it doesn’t really hold up with some of the great Homer/Lisa episodes, but for this era it’s pretty terrific. Homer losing the families entire life-savings is a pretty worn out story element at this point in the show, but whatever, it leads to something new that they hadn’t done before. I like the idea of Homer suddenly getting intelligent, and that he actually should be smart like Mona and Lisa, and they used that idea to great effect. I love seeing Homer and Lisa, both smart for once, bonding as Lisa shows him what she lives through every day. And of course Homer is the type of guy who can’t stand the pressure of intelligence, and buckles to join the rank of idiots that inhabit Springfield. And man that ending is sweet. I love Homer and Lisa’s relationship, and seeing Homer finally know what it’s like to be Lisa is incredible. I really hate that they had to end on the stupid sandwich joke instead of just appreciating the sweet hug moment, but whatever, beggars can’t be choosers.
Take Away: Don’t put things in your nose.
“HOMR” was written by Al Jean and directed by Mike B Anderson, 2001.