The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (2004)

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie: 2004, dir. Sherm Cohen, Stephen Hillenburg, and Mark Osborne. Seen at Galaxy Highland 10 (Nov. 21).
(This is a spoiler-free review. Read away! Then go see the movie already.)
Oh, that wacky SpongeBob. We don’t even have cable TV and we like him. My boyfriend and I rented the Season 1 DVD a few months ago and spent the weekend watching waaay too much SpongeBob at once. It’s better to space out the episodes a little, something I will have to remember now that the Season 2 DVD is available.
It’s been a nasty, gray weekend in Austin and by Sunday afternoon we were sick of driving in it, sick of staying home and looking at it outside, and generally feeling bleah and grouchy. So we decided to see The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. It was also a good opportunity to try the Galaxy Highland theater, which several people had recommended very highly. Galaxy is a small chain with theaters that do not show commercials before the movies. I didn’t want to pick The Incredibles for our first movie there, because I am going to be pickier about sound and picture quality for that particular film, but I thought The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie would be a good choice.

Also, my boyfriend has been playing the soundtrack and we’ve been singing along and it made us more enthusiastic about seeing the movie. My boyfriend does not normally sing along with movie soundtracks, and in fact he dislikes show tunes, but SpongeBob is irresistable.
Altogether we had a very enjoyable moviegoing experience. We picked the 5 pm show on the grounds that the theater might not be as full or rowdy as earlier matinees, but we’d still get in cheap. It turns out we made exactly the right decision on everything.
Highland doesn’t show commercials or slides or play loud music before a movie starts. The theater wasn’t particularly full and we could hear everyone else talking and chatting and laughing. It was a very pleasant change.
I don’t know how I would approach The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie if I were a film critic analyzing it for quality. The plot was nothing special: SpongeBob and Patrick vow to prove they are responsible and mature by regaining Neptune’s crown and thwarting Plankton’s latest evil plot to take over Bikini Bottom. Pretty standard narrative stuff.
The characters created for the movie are flat and pointless. Scarlett Johansson provides the voice of Princess Mindy, the mermaid who helps SpongeBob and Patrick, but she doesn’t actually do all that much. I mean, if Bikini Bottom and her dad are in danger, you’d think she’d actually go along with SpongeBob and Patrick to save the day instead of waving them along merrily and vanishing. But of course, the movie is supposed to focus on SpongeBob and Patrick. It seemed like the only point of having her in the movie was to provide an amusing opportunity for Patrick to drool and swoon over her, and as a marketing opportunity to promote a well-known actress in the film. (Not that the swooning wasn’t a total hoot.) Alec Baldwin’s bad guy Dennis is appropriately menacing but again, anyone could have voiced the character.
The regular supporting characters get short shrift in this movie. Sandy Cheeks has little more than a glorified cameo, and we don’t see nearly enough of my favorite character, the ever-grouchy (often justifiably so) Squidward Tentacles.
But … who cares?
If you’re going to see The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, you know you’re not in for an evening of avant-garde independent cinema, Oscar-nominated acting, or a Major Motion Picture Event about The Triumph of the Human Spirit. Thank heaven for that.
No, this is a silly movie. A delightfully goofy movie. This is a movie with music that sticks in your head and you will be embarrassed if anyone catches you singing it in public later. And you will sing it in public later.
This movie should win an award for Most Bizarre Use of David Hasselhoff. (The Hasselhoff sequence creeped my boyfriend out, but I thought it was hilarious, if really weird.) It also includes the funniest use of can-can music since Moulin Rouge.
Did I mention the singing pirates? The singing pirates are wonderful. Speaking of singing, the whole “Now That We’re Men” musical number made me giggle. Okay, the whole movie made me giggle, but that part especially.
The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie was the perfect movie for a rainy Sunday afternoon. It is an excellent cure for the blahs. And I will certainly be returning to Galaxy Highland 10.
And who was it that said hand-drawn, two-dimensional, traditionally animated movies can no longer turn a profit? (Oh, yeah. The same geniuses who refused to distribute Fahrenheit 9/11.)