The Spongebob Squarepants Movie

| December 1, 2004

SpongeBob SquarePants has built an almost cultish following, and has spawned a multi-billion dollar empire for Nickelodeon. The little sponge who could is beloved by kids and college students alike, and is a marketing bonanza.
Surprisingly, SpongeBob Square Pants’ big screen debut did not live up to expectations.
While the daily cartoon is filled with SpongeBob, his best pal Patrick and a myriad of quirky friends, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie has almost none of the kitsch and silliness, which has made him the biggest thing in the ocean since Jaws.
Only Patrick Star, SpongeBob’s trusty, slow-witted companion is featured, along with the star sponge himself, while Sandy, Mrs. Puff, Mr. Krabs and even Squidward are marginalized for Jeffrey Tambor’s King Neptune, and Scarlett Johansson’s Mindy. Tambor is mildly amusing as the underwater deity, but Johansson is completely superfluous as his daughter.
The film employs some cheap laughs at the expense of David Hasselhoff, but anyone who’d seen the trailer for the film knew it was coming, and I, for one, wasn’t particularly amused.
At 90 minutes, this film didn’t have much time to muck things up, but somehow found a way. With so much to draw from, I was disappointed to see characters like Gary, SpongeBob’s pet snail – who meows like a cat – not to be given more than 30 seconds on screen, or Sandy – a squirrel dressed in what appears to be a spacesuit, living underwater – not to be used in any way except to bark one or two meaningless words in forgettable scenes.
SpongeBob SquarePants’ first foray on to the big screen was entertaining, at times, and occasionally even clever, but it was too little, too late for what turned out to be a lackluster effort, given the immense pool of ideas on which it could have drawn.
I was left thoroughly nonplussed.

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