The Spongebob Squarepants Movie

One of the sillier cartoons to emerge recently is Nickelodeon's Spongebob Squarepants, who lives in a pineapple under the sea. This is the type of cartoon with enough wit to attract both children and adults, along the lines of both Looney Toons and The Animaniacs. Spongebob Squarepants claims to be the most watched cartoon in history, and while this may be debatable it is by no means an unreasonable claim. And with a dearth of new episodes, Spongebob fans are in dire need of something to sate their appetites. The Spongebob Squarepants Movie is just as silly as one would expect, and it suffers from the same thing that most cartoon movie adaptations suffer from: it is too long. Most cartoons take up half an hour on television. Take away commercials, and they are closer to twenty minutes. That's twenty minutes of random silliness, just enough to keep one occupied. Feature length requires a larger investment into a plot, something that is much more difficult.

The Spongebob Squarepants Movie succeeds by broadening its loony sensibility, bringing in some guest stars and even incorporating some live action pirates and a surreal interlude with David Hasselhoff (Dodgeball, Layover). Spongebob (voiced by Tom Kenny, Surviving Christmas, Eight Crazy Nights) is hoping to get the manager's position at the new location of Krusty Krab's, right next to the original. He doesn't, because Mr. Krabs (voiced by Clancy Brown, The Laramie Project, Recess: School's Out) believes he is too young. After all, Spongebob and his best friend Patrick (voiced by Bill Fagerbakke, Ken Park) love to blow bubbles and eat at Goofy Goober's, the ultimate ice cream parlor. Spongebob is dejected, and goes on a bender at Goober's, but discovers that he can redeem himself by finding King Neptune's crown. Plankton (voiced by Doug Lawrence) has stolen the crown and blamed Krabs. Neptune (voiced by Jeffrey Tambor, Hellboy, Eurotrip) will blast Krab's unless Spongebob and Gary return with the crown. This means traveling to the dangerous Shell City.

At the core of this film is what it means to be a kid. Spongebob is one, but wants to be an adult. This means giving up a lot of fun in order to take on responsibility. Yes, there's a moral embedded in the story, and it meshes very well with all the goings on. Many of the regular series writers contributed to the film version, giving a sense of continuity and 'honor' to the characters. The credits went to Derek Drymon, Tim Hill, Kent Osborne (Dropping Out), Aaron Springer, Paul Tibbet, and creator Stephen Hillenburg. Hillenburg co-directed with Sherm Cohen, who also works on the series. The reason that there are so many writers is to help flesh out the myriad of gags that the story throws at the audience. The world of Spongebob is weird, and rather than try to explain everything, all the writers jump headfirst into the weirdness and go for broke. That's why there are fires underwater and a piece of plankton can marry a robot.

Encompassing it all is an overwhelming sense of fun. Although there are serious moments, the main goal of The Spongebob Squarepants Movie is to entertain. Spongebob is on a serious quest, but that doesn't stop him from having a good time. While Spongebob wants to have more responsibility, he still wants to be a kid, and the screenwriters give him a child-like ability to see good in everything. The script does not condescend to children, and even throws in many slight references that will keep adults happy. The film drags at times, but is bright, colorful, and weird enough to watch all the way through.

Haro Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 30 minutes, Rated PG for some mild crude humor.

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