When Disney tapped “The Simpsons” to produce an animated short for Disney Plus, executive producer Al Jean said the idea was born to cram as many of the company’s franchise characters as possible into Moe’s Tavern.
That’s the basis of “The Simpsons in Plusaversary,” which premiered Friday on Disney Plus. In the new short, a Disney Plus Day party takes place for some of the company’s iconic Disney, Marvel and Star Wars characters at Moe’s, where Wreck-It Ralph and Maui from “Moana” are the bouncers and Maleficent is checking the entry list.
But first, Homer has trouble entering Moe’s, since he’s not on the list — which includes Jeff Goldblum, Dopey, Ant-Man, Darth Sidious, Pinocchio, Aaron Burr Jabba the Hutt, Loki, Thanos, Lightning McQueen and more. “You don’t seem to be one of us,” notes Maleficent, looking at a page on her tablet that includes Pixar, ABC, FX, Marvel, Lucasfilm, Hulu, National Geographic and ESPN.
It’s a subtle jab at the fact that “The Simpsons” doesn’t have its own brand tile on Disney Plus, similar to what Marvel, Star Wars and Nat Geo have.
“We’ve had such tile envy at ‘The Simpsons’ that yes, at the beginning you see this guest list and the basis is they had tiles and we don’t, so please, at long last after two years, give us our tile!” Jean said. “When you look at what’s trending on Disney Plus, we’re usually number one!”
Homer manages to become Goofy’s plus one, and inside the bar, the two start pounding pints of Duff beer. “One of our writers, Loni Sosthand, had the suggestion to have Homer befriending Goofy,” Jean said. “I think it worked really well. So we look forward to more Homer and Goofy shorts. We wanted it to be edgy and wanted to poke fun at a holiday that I certainly celebrate, Disney Plus Day.”
There were only a few stipulations in depicting the Disney characters in the short. For starters, Mickey Mouse was off limits.
“My view is Mickey actually doesn’t exist,” Jean quipped. “So we have Bart playing Mickey and telling everybody to get back to work.”
But beyond that, according to Jean, “they said, which I completely agree with, they didn’t want anyone who is a role model for young kids like Belle to be drinking.”
In the case of Goofy, the character has been portrayed as an adult male with a kid in the past, which made it OK for him to enjoy those Duffs with Homer.
Among the show’s regular voice actors, Dan Castellaneta voiced Donald Duck, Hank Azaria was Goofy and Tress MacNeille was Maleficent. And when it came time for Bart to impersonate Mickey Mouse, “Nancy [Cartwright] does a great Mickey laugh,” Jean said. “I thought they all nailed it.”
Director David Silverman oversaw scenes such as Sebastian the Crab drinking at Moe’s with a long straw. “We tried to put little Easter eggs like that throughout,” Jean said.
“We had the dwarves, who are very rare,” he added. “Marvel and Star Wars have always been great, one of my other favorite jokes in the short is BB8, who’s now Maggie’s best friend from the first short. Maggie and BB8 are pals, like they would be if they really worked with the same company. We were talking about doing a short with all the silent characters, Maggie, BB8, Dopey.”
“The Simpsons in Plusaversary” is the third in a series of Disney Plus shorts from “The Simpsons” following “Maggie Simpson in ‘The Force Awakens from Its Nap’” and “The Good, The Bart, and The Loki.” Separately, in October, “The Simpsons” produced a 10-minute short for Paris-based fashion house Balenciaga.
“To count those three shorts and Balenciaga, which was like a 10-minute episode, we’ve done more material this year than any year since ‘The Simpsons Movie,’” Jean noted. “So it’s a real renaissance for us.”
Next up, Jean teased that “The Simpsons” is working on a Spanish language-only short that won’t be for Disney Plus — but he won’t say much more beyond that: “The characters that appears with the Simpsons is Spanish language and all the dialogue is in Spanish. And all the signs are in Spanish, but I yeah, I can’t say too much.”
As for Disney Plus in 2022, “We’re pitching more out. I’m not saying we’re doing them but ‘She- Hulk’ is going to be big and then ‘Obi Wan.’ We’re too late to do ‘Boba Fett,’ which I think would have been cool. But I love doing them so you know we want to do more.”