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THE SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS MOVIE

Review by Michael Jacobson

Voices:  Tom Kenny, Alec Baldwin, Jeffrey Tambor, Scarlett Johansson
Director:  Stephen Hillenburg
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio:  Paramount
Features:  See Review
Length:  87 Minutes
Release Date:  March 1, 2005

"I'm busy planning to RULE THE WORLD!!"

"Well...good luck with that!"

Film ***

Like every television star, our favorite sponge had his eye set on the big screen.  And with The Spongebob Squarepants Movie, he proved he was more than up to the challenge.

I don't have kids, but I frequently see Spongebob on TV when I visit my niece and nephew, and though I never followed it religiously, I have to admit, the zany cartoon always made me laugh out loud.  Something about it reminded me of the really early days of Looney Toons, when the toons really were Looney.  Plus, you gotta love the concept of a little square sponge wearing pants and getting into all kinds of crazy adventures.

As the movie opens, our resilient (and absorbent) hero is expecting to get the news he's been waiting for his entire career...a promotion to manager of the new Krusty Krabs.  But the evil nemesis Plankton, owner of the Chum Bucket, has plans of his own...namely, stealing the crown of King Neptune (Tambor), blaming Mr. Krabs, stealing his formula for Krabby Patties, and living happily ever after.

But Spongebob and his friend Patrick have other ideas...with the encouragement of the princess Mindy (Johansson), they decide to attempt the impossible:  taking off for Shell City, finding the king's crown, and making everything right again in Bikini Bottom.  The problem?  No one has ever come back from the rough and tough Shell City alive!

But the affable duo mean to prove they're more than just the 'kids' everyone makes them out to be, and soon they're off on an adventure wilder, more unpredictable and funnier than anything you could imagine.  Wait, for example, until you see what Shell City really is...and even better, who steps in to help them save the day!  I won't spoil the surprise for you, but I will say for his appearance in this movie, he deserves the Being John Malkovich good sport of the year award.

I can't sit here and tell you that The Spongebob Squarepants Movie will engage your cerebellum or make you a better person than before.  But I can say that it's a colorful, crazy, and frequently hilarious animated film with almost nonstop energy.  I smiled from beginning to end, and I laughed out loud often.

The kids will love it; that's no surprise.  What may surprise you is how much you'll get a kick out of it, too.  Spongebob is a wonderful comic creation that definitely holds water.

Video ****

As mentioned, this is a delightfully colorful film, and like most animated movies, it looks fantastic on DVD.  It's an undersea banquet for the eyes from start to finish.

Audio ****

The 5.1 soundtrack is almost nonstop with music and zany sound effects that keep front and rear stages busy, with plenty of action for the subwoofer, too.  You can tell the sound guys had a blast mixing this movie...and you'll have one listening to it.

Features ***

There's a treasure chest of extras in the Spongebob sea, starting with a good making-of featurette.  There's also a 20 minute animatic, two extra featurettes "Saving the Surf" and "Case of the Sponge Bob", a game demo, and the original star studded teaser trailer, which is a total hoot.

Summary:

I'm not afraid to suck it up (get it?) and admit I had a great time with The Spongebob Squarepants Movie, kids or no kids in the house.  This wonderfully wacky film should be a hit for toddler and parent alike.

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