I think it was Two and a Half Men that had a character proclaim that “life’s too short” to listen to anything that has to do with SpongeBob SquarePants. Yes, the show about the talking sponge that lives at the bottom of the ocean. It’s a show beloved by kids everywhere and hated by parents because it has penchant to be annoying and excessive in its annoyingness. And if you understood the word “penchant,” you’re probably not someone who loves SpongeBob SquarePants. But here’s a feature-length movie that kids will make their parents see with them. So, here we are.
Our lead is SpongeBob (voice of Tom Kenny), a sponge who, as his name suggests, wears square pants. He’s the fry cook at a fast food restaurant owned by the greedy Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown). His best friend is a starfish named Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke), and if you’re already tuning out, this movie very much isn’t aimed at you. Plankton (Mr. Lawrence) is the villain, as he wants to steal the secret recipe for making the delicious burgers at Mr. Krabs’ establishment. A bunch of the show’s episodes revolve around that.
So does the movie. He enacts “Plan Z,” which involves framing Mr. Krabs for the theft of the crown of King Neptune (Jeffrey Tambor), knowing that this will get Neptune to … “eliminate” Krabs for good. But SpongeBob decides to go get the crown back in order to spare his boss’ life. Along with Patrick, he embarks on a journey to retrieve the crown, all while being pursued by a hitman named Dennis (Alec Balwdin), being rooted for by Neptune’s daughter, Mindy (Scarlett Johansson), and being told by everyone that they are just kids and can’t possibly succeed.
Effectively, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie is a longer, more ambitious episode of the television show. If you like the television show, you will like this. If the television show gets on your nerves and gives you a headache, then this isn’t the movie for you. It’s a children’s movie about a talking sponge that has high-pitched laughing that goes on for what feels like forever. What more do you want?
The good thing about SpongeBob SquarePants is that the humor involved is often so insane and out there — kind of like Monty Python, although not often of that quality, risk, or intelligence — that it doesn’t really get dull. Some of the jokes might not work, but it’s not going to be boring. It throws so many things at you in such a short period of time that it can’t bore you. It might irritate you, but at least it tries, and unlike some 22-minute shows that try to stretch themselves for a feature-length adaptation, it doesn’t run out of ideas midway through.
I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise that a movie aimed at children has a central message that “being a kid is cool!” And that’s fine. The film — and the show — both have this sort of innocence thing that make them kind of interesting. The only cynical character is Squidward (Rodger Bumpass), and he’s repeatedly proven wrong — at least in the show; in the movie he basically gets ignored for most of its running time.
All of the voice actors from the show — at least in principle roles — return for the movie. Tom Kenny’s SpongeBob is played with a voice that is likely to give headaches to a good number of adults, but he does it so well that you have to give him tons of credit. The other voice actors do a good job, too, but without Kenny, there is no SpongeBob, and without SpongeBob, none of this works. He’s such an important character for this franchise; without him, it all falls apart.
The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie is a feature-length episode of the television show that you either love or hate. If you like the show, you’ll enjoy the movie. If it irritates you to no end, then it’ll continue to do that, too. It has the same type of humor — insanity — the same characters, and an extended plot which sees SpongeBob and Patrick go on an adventure to eventually prove that kids are cool. Yeah. That’s what we’re dealing with here, folks. It’s not boring, but it’s almost strictly for children or people who were fans of the show as children.