Living deep under the sea, SpongeBob SquarePants (voiced by Tom Kenny) is dreaming about his impeding promotion to manager of his beloved restaurant, The Krusty Krab. When he's passed over for the job, SpongeBob falls into a deep depression, leaving him oblivious to the fact that diminutive (and evil) Plankton is planning to take over the entire town of Bikini Bottom by framing Mr. Krabs for a crime against all-powerful King Neptune (Jeffrey Tambor). Out to prove himself a "real man" to his neighbors, SpongeBob, and his friend Patrick Star, set off into the great unknown to find help and restore order to the undersea community.
Right from the top, I must admit I've never seen one episode of our pal SpongeBob SquarePants's wildly popular Nickelodeon show. I've been around the phenomenon for some time now, but I've been wary of sampling this cartoon smash. Now confronted with the big screen adventure for this undersea sponge, I've come away with the feeling that the end results aren't much different than anything that could be found on television.
Coming from the hipster underground of "you don't get it?" comedy that was born from the cult success of "Ren and Stimpy," "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie" (IMDb listing) isn't quite as subversive as "Stimpy," but it's just as wacky. Though presented as a family film, tart animation like this seems geared more toward cool-cat high school students and college freshman, and not the average 5 year-old. "SquarePants" is vibrantly colored, reasonably fast paced for what it is (which isn't much for a feature film), and relentlessly goofy, but it also carefully presents an extra layer of bizarre material for adults that amplifies the slender amount of fun in the film.
Would you believe that the climax of the film takes place, quite literally, on David Hasselhoff's back? That the picture is a multi-media event, dabbling in live action, rotoscoping, and claymation for short periods of time? Or that songs by Twisted Sister and Motorhead figure into the film at certain points? Maybe creator/director Stephen Hillenburg felt this was his only chance to make a feature film, so he threw every last idea into the kettle. The end product approaches cartoon madness more than once, and the unbridled silliness makes up for all the dead spots that litter this stretch-mark-lined feature.
I wouldn't say "SpongeBob SquarePants" is particularly hilarious, though it does feature enough charming moments for three animated feature films. The feature is simply an elongated episode of the show, which dampens the fun of going to the movies. However, for hardcore fans of the Bikini Bottom resident, you'll get exactly what you paid for.
Filmfodder Grade: B-