Squidward: Oh, no! This is terrible! Who’s gonna sign my paycheck?
Beware: Spoilers may follow.
Since its inception back in 1999 SpongeBob has become a huge trademark of Nickelodeon. The old seasons have appealed to kids and adults alike for years. With such a big property it only made sense to make a big movie. And thus in 2004, we got the SpongeBob Squarepants Movie. In many ways, the movie is in the same vein as the show but for fans of the show it is so in all the best ways.
The story involves Plankton stealing sea King Neptune’s Crown and framing Mr. Krabs for it. Despite the evidence pointing to Krabs and SpongeBob being enraged at Krabs for not giving him the manager promotion on account of being a kid, SpongeBob refuses to believe his boss is responsible and sets out to Shell City to retrieve it along with his best friend Patrick. However as they set out, the two are faced with the many dangers the sea has to offer.
The story’s heart is SpongeBob and Patrick’s desire to prove that they can be real men. And the movie’s writing finds the right balance of both humor and heartfelt emotion in it. The humor piles the most absurd of scenarios with humorous dialogue and visuals such as SpongeBob and Patrick getting drunk and hung over on ice cream, the baby hunt scene, and losing the Patty wagon a second time leading to the hilarious shocked reaction. It also can get weird at times like the cameo by David Hasslehoff. Yet it still leaves room for hitting some hard notes such as SpongeBob and Patrick dying due to dehydration from the Cyclops’ heat lamp and SpongeBob’s realization that though he may be a kid and he can’t change that, he is still accomplished something no kid could do. This is quite surprising given that many past Nickelodeon movies often wind up being extended shows of the cartoon
There’s also the subplot about Plankton taking over Bikini Bottom, mind enslaving its citizens, and even successfully managing to steal the Krabby Patty Formula. Once SpongeBob and Patrick go on their quest this is largely discarded and that is quite a shame considering that it was actually surprising to see Plankton have a legitimate success but even though it was six days, given how much time was focused on it, it makes it feel like this doesn’t matter. Particularly given that when SpongeBob and Patrick get back, Plankton is defeated within a matter of minutes.
When it comes to the animation of the movie, various environments we know from the show look the same but have a much smoother and cleaner look. But the bigger budget takes advantage of showing the wonders and horrors of the sea with its environments and character designs such as the sea monsters during the trench scene and the Now That We’re Men Song.
SpongeBob in this movie brings his usual optimistic, motivated, and naiveté here and that gives way to both the humor and heart. And at the same time they craft a legitimate story arc for him involving being a kid and a man. It’s balanced with the usual humor so that it doesn’t get heavy handed.
Patrick on the other hand, has much of his young stupidity in him and it allows him to act as brilliant comic relief on the quest. Together SpongeBob and Patrick make a strong duo in strength and comedy.
One of the odd choices of this movie was changing the appearance of King Neptune. The voice actor for him is great but I liked the original design a lot better. He looked far more majestic and sounded more authoritative which reflected his role as the ruler of the sea. Here he’s a far more silly in his authority, which again leads to some funny moments when he gets angry or when he breaks down.
Neptune’s daughter Mindy is the voice of reason to Neptune’s cruel antics and Scarlet Johansson as the voice actress does well in making this character distinct. She’s likable in providing the help she can to SpongeBob and Patrick and showing herself to be a kind and benevolent character.
Other characters we know from the show like Squidward, Mr. Krabs, Sandy, etc. are mostly reduced to cameos. Some of them have some funny moments but they take a back seat to SpongeBob and Patrick. Not that SpongeBob and Patrick’s roles in this movie get tiresome but a lot of the show derived humor through the interactions with many of these character and we don’t get much of that here.
Finally there are the villains. Plankton, as stated before is classic in his character as always but it’s disappointing that he actually fully succeeds for once and we really don’t get to enjoy it. Then there’s the hit man Plankton hires to take down SpongeBob and Patrick named Dennis. Alec Baldwin gives a nice gruff demeanor to the character in showing just how tough he can be against those who come across him. I honestly would have hoped that he survived after getting hit by the catamaran since he was a legitimately enjoyable in the lengths he went towards to capture his prey.
The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie can appeal to fans of the show. Kids can laugh at the humor and enjoy the bright colors while adults can appreciate the message and the odd humor that only this show can provide. Whether you’re a SpongeBob fan or not, this movie has something for everybody and that’s a good thing for any movie.