Movie Name: The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie
Studio: Nickelodeon Movies
Release Date(s): November 14, 2004 (Premiere)/November 19, 2004 (US)
MPAA Rating: PG
Plankton has resorted to his “Plan Z” which entails stealing King Neptune’s crown and sending it to Shell City. With Mr. Krabs framed for the theft, SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick Star are headed to the forbidden Shell City to prove his innocence. While Plankton turns Bikini Bottom into his own kingdom, SpongeBob and Patrick are on the adventure of a lifetime…which includes David Hasselhoff.
Directed by Stephen Hillenburg, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie was a big screen spin-off of the popular Nickelodeon series SpongeBob SquarePants. The movie was originally perceived as an end to the series, but the series continued on after the film’s release. The movie was a financial success and received mostly positive reviews.
I honestly was never a SpongeBob viewer. I saw it on occasion but never saw it regularly. I always viewed the series as a direct descendant of shows like Ren & Stimpy. The series was rather smart and fun, and The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie follows the show’s clever format.
The story is pretty typical for a children’s film but the script is smart. It has the heroic characters venturing into a land of the unknown to overthrow a tyrant to save their friends. It however is loaded with absurd humor that fits with the story instead of being a distraction (a tricky balance). If you don’t like the show, however, you probably won’t like the movie because it is the same sense of humor.
The movie’s cast is also strong. The regulars from the show all are back for the movie in addition to “guest-stars” Jeffrey Tambor, Scarlett Johansson, and Alec Baldwin. David Hasselhoff parodies his Baywatch character while playing himself in a live-action portion of the film.
It is this weird blending of styles that makes SpongeBob SquarePants interesting. The movie starts in live action with the pirates excited to see The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and then it switches to animation. Within the animation, the style changes multiple times. Even the character designs for SpongeBob and his friends undergo style changes within the movie. The end of the film has SpongeBob and Patrick going to the live-action surface where the filmmakers play with the animation.
The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie is a fun trip. It does feel a bit like one long SpongeBob episode and I still think SpongeBob works better in small doses. The film however does have the spirit of the show and with boxsets and binge watching, you don’t generally end up watching one episode anymore anyway. The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie was followed by SpongeBob SquarePants: Sponge Out of Water in 2015.