Any movie that opens with pirates can’t be all that bad. The pirates don’t really have anything to do with the rest of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, but that’s beside the point. Pirates are always cool, except maybe in Renny Harlin movies. Once it gets past the non-sequitur buccaneers, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie is about a naïve, goofy sponge, SpongeBob (Tom Kenny), who lives in a pineapple under the sea with his pet snail Gary. His best friend is the incredibly stupid starfish Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke), who lives underneath a rock. They both work for Mr. Eugene H. Krabs (Clancy Brown) at the Krusty Krab, a fast food joint famous for Krabby Patties.
SpongeBob is all excited because Mr. Krabs is opening the Krusty Krab II, and he expects to be named manager. Mr. Krabs dashes his hopes, explaining that SpongeBob is too immature to be manager. Meanwhile, the megalomaniacal Plankton (Mr. Lawrence) (who’s a one-eyed plankton) is plotting to steal the formula for Krabby Patties and also plotting to rule the world. He accomplishes his schemes by stealing King Neptune’s crown and framing Mr. Krabs for it. The despotic king threatens to burn Mr. Krabs alive but SpongeBob, despite his disappointment over losing the promotion, volunteers to go on a quest to retrieve Neptune’s crown. Yes, this movie is a quest story, a perilous journey about how two boys become men. Well, no, that’s not it. A sponge and a starfish set out to save their employer and encounter everything, including ice cream stand death traps, carjackers, souvenir hunting deep-sea divers, and David Hasslehoff.
The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie is a refreshingly old-fashioned 2D animation feature (with just a hint of CGI and some live action) that can be enjoyed by children (SpongeBob is a huge phenomenon among little ones as many parents can attest) and some adults. I say some adults because people over the age of 12 will either enjoy the slapstick silliness of Stephen Hillenburg’s cartoon creation or they will not get it at all. I fall into the former category and I found this children’s movie to be an entertaining, unpretentious gigglefest that goes surprisingly fast for a 90 minute feature.
I don’t get the PG rating, however. Were there too many naked cartoon buttocks? Was it the burps? It had one scary moment when a mermaid promised to use her “mermaid magic” to turn SpongeBob and Patrick into men, but this scene was played with no smirky double entenderes . I think the rating further proves that the MPAA is staffed by meanyheads. Maybe they didn’t like the fact that this movie doesn’t have any moral at ALL, except maybe that it’s okay to be yourself, even if you are just a bubble-blowing goofy goober. I truly enjoyed this DVD and I think this release does justice to its subject. The world of SpongeBob is cheery and colorful, with the occasional close-up of something rendered in high gross detail (like the broken teeth of a fishy looking thug, or SpongeBob’s unshaven face after an ice cream binge) reminiscent of the older and sorely missed “Ren and Stimpy” cartoons. The transfer looks crisp and even and the few times it switches over to live action the transitions are smooth. This is a cartoon, so everything is as loud and cheerful as the animation, music and dialog alike.
The extra features are enjoyable – including the obligatory making of piece that is informative about both the movie and the history of the characters. I also like the storyboard sequence which gives a look into the process of developing a cartoon. Both of these featurettes would interest a kid, especially one who has taken an interest in the mechanics of animation. This disk has a DVD-ROM feature which is a demo version of the SpongeBob SquarePants game. It’s a nice addition for those parents who are desperate to keep their kids occupied while they try to finish cooking dinner.
If you like “SpongeBob SquarePants” the show, you will thoroughly enjoy The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. It’s as absurd and silly as the TV cartoons, and it never tries to be more than it is, despite an expanded budget and story line. Your SpongeBob-obsessed kids will, of course, take to this movie like a chocolate addict to a bag of candy bars and watch this disc about 3 million times. However, if you can’t appreciate the antics of the dorky little porifera and his brain-damaged asteroidea buddy along with your children, I sincerely recommend investing in a good set of earplugs.
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