Maggie Simpson in "The Longest Daycare" is a 2012 animated short based on The Simpsons, released theatrically between the show's 23rd and 24th seasons. Written by some of the show's top writers, including Matt Groening himself, and directed by David Silverman, it is the first Simpsons cartoon short to be created for a theatrical release and the second Simpsons film overall, following The Simpsons Movie.
After Marge drops Maggie off at daycare, she is judged to be of "average intelligence" and placed in the dank, depressing "Nothing Special Room" rather than the cool "Gifted Room". With nothing else to stimulate her, Maggie takes notice of a caterpillar. At the same time she meets her regular nemesis, Baby Gerald. Baby Gerald is whacking butterflies with mallets and posting their mangled corpses up on the wall. After she finds a book about the life cycle of the butterfly and figures out what the caterpillar is about to turn into, Maggie decides to save the butterfly from Gerald.
The cartoon was shown theatrically in 3D, preceding Ice Age: Continental Drift, with nearly every review praising it over the feature. It was nominated for a 2013 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, but lost to Paperman.
Can be watched here.
Tropes appearing in this short:
- 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: Frequent, from the Simpsons' station wagon to Maggie's pop-up book to one of the hallways Maggie runs down as she tries to outrun Gerald.
- Absentee Actor: Likely because it's an animated short appealing to kids despite being based on a mature cartoon, Maggie and Marge are the only Simpson family members to appear. Bart, Lisa and Homer are all MIA.
- Arch-Enemy: Baby Gerald, Maggie's unibrow-sporting nemesis from the show, is her enemy here as well.
- Artistic License Biology: A caterpillar takes much longer than five minutes to turn into a butterfly.
- Art Shift: The character designs of the show are still recognizable, but the style of the short is more akin to a classic Looney Tunes short with a lot more exaggerated emotions and rubbery character animation.
- Bait-and-Switch: Maggie is carried towards the school's "Gifted Area," where children are given a clean environment and better resources to be creative... before her carrier walks her past it to the dingy "Nothing Special" room, complete with a poster reading "Honest Bunny Says: 'You Have No Future'."
- Big Ol' Unibrow: Appropriate for Maggie's nemesis, evil Baby Gerald.
- Brick Joke: One of the children in the Gifted Area is seen conducting a small chamber orchestra of babies. Later, when Gerald supposedly smashes Maggie's butterfly, they score her anguish with "Vesti La Giubba" (accompanied by a Cymbal-Banging Monkey on percussion).
- Call-Back: The Ayn Rand School for Tots makes its first appearance since... well, its first appearance in "A Streetcar Named Marge". In fact, the short was released just a few months prior to the episode's twentieth anniversary.
- The Cameo: Selma, Manjula, and Brandine are seen dropping off their respective children at the school before Marge and Maggie enter.
- Continuity Nod: The short takes place in the Ayn Rand Daycare Center from "A Streetcar Named Marge".
- Creative Closing Credits: The butterfly is seen once again nesting in Maggie's hair.
- Cymbal-Banging Monkey: Averted, as the monkey in this instance is only present to add to the dramatic music at the end of the chase.
- A Day in the Limelight: This was the first time Maggie had a story dedicated to just her, the only other characters from the show are a couple glimpses of Marge and her Sitcom Arch-Nemesis, the unibrowed baby Gerard.
- Diegetic Switch: A dramatic crescendo rises when Maggie collapses in grief after the butterfly is squashed by Gerald. It's then revealed to be coming from the music students in the Gifted Room.
- The Faceless: All of the adults faces, including Marge herself, are obscured by either the frame or by shadows.
- For the Evulz: Why is Gerald smashing butterflies? Cuz.
- Foreshadowing: The first thing Marge does before dropping Maggie off is adjust her bow. Said bow is later used to trick Gerald into thinking that he's crushed her butterfly so she can get it out of the school safely.
- Hidden in Plain Sight: Maggie does this a couple of times. Once she hides the caterpillar from Gerald by putting it over her eyes to mimic a Big Ol' Unibrow just like Gerald's. At the end, it's revealed that she threw her blue bow into the window, and that the butterfly hid on top of her hair until Marge came to take her home.
- Hope Spot: After her butterfly hatches, Maggie tosses out the window to freedom... only for Gerald to crush it with the Venetian blinds. Or did he...?
- Iris Out: A throwback to old cartoon shorts.
- Mime and Music-Only Cartoon: Appropriate enough for a Maggie Simpson story.
- No Animals Were Harmed: Played for a gag."No butterflies were harmed during the making of this motion picture, although two kids were pretty banged up."
- No-Dialogue Episode: Justified, in that all of the characters are babies.
- Paste Eater: One of the babies in the daycare is eating paste. When he notices Maggie looking, he offers it to her.
- Pun: Maggie walks by a set of Raggedy Ayn Rand dolls, which all have black hats, cigarette holders and dour expressions.
- Pun-Based Title: A pun on The Longest Day.
- Sucky School: It's a daycare, not a school, but the dynamic is the same—at least in the sad "Nothing Special Room", where the kids are neglected with little to do."Honest Bunny Says: 'You have no future.'"
- Train Escape: Maggie briefly shakes off Gerald by crossing a toy train railroad crossing just before it closes and Gerald has to wait for the train to pass first.
- Vanity Plate: The Gracie Films logo gets a special theatrical update (as well as its first overall in thirty years).