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Paramount Studios presents
The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (2004)

"Step aside, and you won't have to feel the awesome wrath of our moustaches."
- SpongeBob SquarePants (Tom Kenny)

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: February 28, 2005

Stars: Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke
Other Stars: Mr. Lawrence, Clancy Brown, Rodger Bumpass, Scarlett Johansson, Jeffrey Tambor, David Hasselhoff, Jill Talley, Alec Baldwin, Mary Jo Catlett, Carolyn Lawrence
Director: Stephen Hillenburg

MPAA Rating: PG for some mild crude humor
Run Time: 01h:27m:07s
Release Date: March 01, 2005
UPC: 097363420941
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+A-B+ B

DVD Review

If you weren't already part of the SpongeBob nation prior to the release of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, all of the anticipatory hub-bub probably passed you by in a wave of general disinterest as another dose of frothy kid stuff.

That's understandable, to a point. For one thing, bigscreen adaptations of television animated series are an iffy proposition, and things like the Pokémon "movies" dirty the waters of respectability, so it would be understandable for the uninformed to look at something like a SpongeBob SquarePants movie as just another shallow marketing tool designed to sell mountains of merchandise. Yes, there is a ton of merchandise to sell (have you been in a Target lately?), but the show is a consistently funny one, and thankfully the feature film expands that streak in the undersea world of Bikini Bottom.

For his bigscreen debut, nerdy man/boy SpongeBob (Tom Kenny) yearns for a managerial position at the brand new Krusty Krab restaurant, but when he loses out to perpetually crabby neighbor Squidward (Rodger Bumpass) he falls into a great depression. He is given a chance to redeem himself by going on a dangerous mission to Shell City to recover the stolen crown of King Neptune (Jeffrey Tambor), which was taken by pint-sized villain Plankton (Mr. Lawrence). Plankton has framed SpongeBob's boss, Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown), for the theft, and King Neptune has set a time limit of six days to return with crown or Mr. Krabs will be incinerated. So, with the opportunity to prove he's not a kid—and a little help from Neptune's daughter Mindy (Scarlett Johansson)—SpongeBob and his dim-witted starfish pal Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke) set out, with a motorcycle-riding assassin named Dennis (Alec Baldwin) hot on their trail.

Aside from the characters of King Neptune and Mindy—who just really seem out of place here, as if they wandered in from a sub par Disney knock-off—the core of this one is all SpongeBob and Patrick on their journey, with a proper smattering of the comical Plankton and his plans to control the world, or at the very least Bikini Bottom. Stretching out what was normally 12-minute shorts into a feature seems like it would be a challenge, but this is an enjoyably quirky and fun film, playing largely like a 90-minute version of the television series.

Be warned though, that the tone of some of the gags are ratcheted up a bit, moving into slightly cruder areas such as a bare-assed Patrick parasailing with a SpongeBob flag clenched between his cheeks or their prolonged drunken stupor of too many ice cream sundaes at The Goofy Goober. There is also a scene late in the film where it appears SpongeBob and Patrick die a fairly gruesome death, and though things obviously end up working out for the best, I suspect some younger viewers might get a wee bit freaked out. And the less said about the magical powers of David Hasselhoff and his chest muscles, the better.

Credit creator/writer/director Stephen Hillenburg for not completely reinventing the SpongeBob universe for the feature film, and by keeping the adventures, comedy, and most importantly the animation style very, very close to the television series; there is the sense that this is just a natural extension of things. And it is really, really funny, too.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Paramount has issued The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, though a separate full-screen version is also available, so be sure to double check the banner at the top of the front cover artwork. The transfer itself is an absolute beaut, with a sharp, blemish-free image full of exceptionally vivid colors balanced by deep, rock solid blacks.

Paramount has always done a good job on the transfers for the single disc series compilations, but this particular one for the feature film is actually a dramatic improvement.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Spanish, Frenchyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: It is fitting that the audio is dressed up a bit for SpongeBob's feature debut, and the 5.1 Dolby Digital surround track is a very active and enjoyable one. Dialogue is clear, and there is quite a bit of directional movement across all channels so when SpongeBob runs screaming from the right front speaker all the way around counterclockwise to the right rear, the effect really adds a spatial dimension to things. The sub channel is used sparingly, but adds some well-placed bottom end to things like the wrath of the always angry King Neptune.

There are also 2.0 versions in English, French or Spanish.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 14 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete Second Season
1 Documentaries
2 Featurette(s)
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: The Absorbing Tale Behind The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (18m:51s) features all the key talent (from Stephen Hillenburg through David Hasselhoff) discussing the general plot and character motivations. For surreal weirdness, make sure you see Hillenburg's original SpongeBob drawings and the 14-foot-long Hasselhoff dummy used for some of the effects shots, complete with mounds of yak hair and a huge ol' smiling face. Animatics (20m:31s) showcases the test drawings combined with preliminary voiceover work for a handful of sequences from the film.

On the educational side there's The Case of the Sponge "Bob" (14m:50s), narrated by Stephen Hillenburg and Jean-Michel Cousteau, in which we learn about all sorts of real-life sea sponges, and Saving The Surf (03m:37s) is a quick look at the Surfrider Foundation's work trying to raise awareness for preserving beaches and oceans.

There are also two different trailers for Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, one for SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete Second Season, as well as the infamous SpongeBob "submarine" teaser trailer. The dreaded Interactual plugin allows access to demo of a SpongeBob SquarePants game. The disc itself is cut into 14 chapters, with optional English subtitles.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

SpongeBob makes the successful transition to the bigscreen, and the result is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, even if it is noticeably cruder in spots than it is on Nickelodeon.



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