THE SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS MOVIE
** (out of 5)
November 19, 2004
Tom Kenny as SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS
Clancy Brown as MR. EUGENE H. KRABS
Rodger Bumpass as SQUIDWARD TENTACLES
Bill Fagerbakke as PATRICK STAR
Mr. Lawrence as SHELDON J. PLANKTON
Scarlett Johansson as MINDY
Jeffrey Tambor as KING NEPTUNE
David Hassellhoff as HIMSELF
Directed by: Sherm Cohen, Stephen Hillenburg and Mark Osborne
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
If you know me, it’s no big surprise that I’m not a big SpongeBob fan. I have a six year old niece who is, but I just happen to come from a different generation. None of that high-flicker, grotesque cartoons for me. Give me the good, old fashioned Tom & Jerry and Looney Tunes. Slapstick violence with shotguns spinning duck’s bills around are my speed.
SpongeBob SquarePants is one of those newer generation cartoons where obnoxiousness has replaced bitter sarcasm and gross-out humor has replaced violent slapstick. They all seem to be born from the remnants of Ren & Stimpy (back when it was funny and not ruined by Spike TV). Now, I liked Ren & Stimpy, but I don’t like the cartoons that mimic its butt and fart jokes. Believe me, there’s an actual artistic finesse to scatological humor.
So, going into “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie,” I was admittedly skeptical. And when all was said and done, I didn’t like it that much. However, I’d be the first to admit that your average SpongeBob fan is going to think it’s genius.
The SpongeBob cartoon on Nickelodeon has surprisingly few shows on the air, considering its popularity. And it is pretty low rent. So, in bringing the sea creatures from Bikini Bottom to life in a full length theatrical feature, things had to be bigger. To achieve this, they story is set to make SpongeBob the hero of the ocean and takes him to places he’s never been.
After being snubbed for the manager’s job at the Krusty Krab, SpongeBob is tapped by King Neptune to find his missing crown. While the King believes that Mr. Krabs himself stole it, the real culprit is the villainous Plankton who is trying to frame Krabs in order to get his hands (or whatever plankton have for hands) on the secret formula for the Krab Burger. SpongeBob’s trusty friend Patrick Star tags along to help save the day, and they end up on a long adventure that takes them to the depths of the ocean and also onto dry land.
The gem in this film is an appearance by David Hassellhoff in full Baywatch garb. Now, the press kit calls it “a surprise cameo” by Hassellhoff, although I don’t know how it could be a surprise considering the scene is highlighted in the freakin’ trailer. But Hassellhoff is hilarious nonetheless. It’s nice to see that his American ego is at a size that can handle bizarre, self-deprecating cameos in films like “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “A Dirty Shame.”
I haven’t seen enough of the television show to honestly say whether the film is more, less, or about the same. But I can guess. (And what do opinion columnists and film reviewers do than just make wild guesses and assumptions, after all?) Having skimmed through the cartoon selections on Nickelodeon, I think this film runs about on par with what’s on TV, only longer.
And on the subject of being long, I did think this film could have been edited down a little bit. There’s only so much SpongeBob a normal human being can handle in one sitting. I don’t care how short the running time actually is, but this flick could have been trimmed, especially the irritating and annoying rock musical number at the end.
I wouldn’t hold your breath for the SpongeBob SquarePants empire to expand into too many more theatrical features, although I think it’s a good bet that there’ll be plenty of direct-to-video SpongeBob movies as time runs on. Heck, major franchises like “Charlie’s Angels” can barely make it to the second film. Even Pokemon, one of the most inconceivable hits, had a successful movie or two before the public got bored.