If you’ve never seen the Nickelodeon show SpongeBob SquarePants, you’re probably wondering why you’d ever want to see a kiddie movie based on a kiddie network’s TV show. But if you’re curious enough about the SpongeBob hype to read this review, please allow me sell you on the virtues of this often clever and very funny movie based on an equally sharp and hip animated series.
For the uninitiated, SpongeBob (Tom Kenny) is a yellow sponge clothed in square pants that ‘lives in a pineapple under the sea,’ as the song states, in the middle of a town of fish, crabs, and other sea life called Bikini Bottom. In this 90-minute outing, our hero is glum that he’s been passed over for the job of his dreams – manager of the new Krusty Krab 2 – because he’s ‘just a kid.’ But he can’t stay sad for long; the evil Plankton (Mr. Lawrence) has launched ‘Plan Z,’ which frames SB’s boss Mr. Krab for the theft of King Neptune’s (Jeffrey Tambor) crown.
SpongeBob and his loyal pal Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke) set out to save Mr. Krab’s life by trekking to Shell City in search of the missing crown. On the way, they brave a deep-sea trench filled with horrible monsters, a sinister hit ‘fish’ (Alec Baldwin) out for their fins, and the treachery of hitting the beach.
Yes, it is indeed weird, but – more importantly – it’s completely and gloriously absurd. And, that zaniness is what keeps SpongeBob so fresh: You never know where this fantastically unpredictable show (and now the movie) will take you. You’ll wonder if you’re high when SB and Patrick end up in a giggly ‘bubble party’ in the restroom of a roughneck biker bar; or when the duo end up hitching a ride back to Bikini Bottom on the mottled back of David Hasselhoff (yep, you read it right). Well, some of you may be high, but — high or not — you’ll be laughing.
Thing is, the movie might be almost too clever and geared too heavily toward SpongeBob’s wide adult fan base that it could go over the heads of this pineapple-dweller’s youngest fans. When the movie isn’t providing goofy burp jokes and slapstick mayhem, the kids may get a little restless (at last, the kids at my screening did). They certainly didn’t get the spoof of ’80s hair-band rock videos that served as a finale; I guess they never saw David Lee Roth’s MTV hit ‘Just a Gigolo.’
So, with a lot of feel-good kiddie storyline to unnerve the adults and Gen-X-oriented pop culture humor to disorient the children, who does this movie appeal to? All of the above. Bottom line, SpongeBob enchants us all with his rapid-fire laughter, two-tooth smile, innocent nature, and witty one-liners. If you’re still not convinced and you want to test the waters ahead of the theater, SB can be found running dozens of times a week on Nickelodeon. May I recommend my favorite episode: ‘Krusty Krab Training Video.’ Pure genius.
Numerous extra featurettes can be found on the SpongeBob DVD — yellow, of course.
My mollusk and me.