Unless you’ve been living on the moon, with no communication to civilization, you’ve probably heard of Spongebob Squarepants. He’s a cartoon character who lives in a pineapple under the sea (I hope that’s not copyright infringement) who’s silly, energetic, and likes to have fun. His friends include a stupid starfish, a greedy crab, a grumpy squid, and a squirrel. Riveting I know. But it became a huge success, such a success that Nickelodeon made a movie out of it. Which was about ten years ago.
Now before even diving into the world of The Spongebob Squarepants Movie, (get it? it’s a pun? ok I’ll stop) there’s a little something that needs to be discussed regarding movies in general. While the success or popularity of a book, TV show, or character could give reasons to make a movie out of it, I’ve always felt that it’s a dangerous territory for any studio to go into. What is the intent of the movie? Sometimes a the reason is obvious, trying to capitalize on particular fan-base, such as: Transformers, Dragon Ball Evolution, Twilight, The Watchmen, or G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra, all based on a product with huge popularity (for better or for worse), but clearly had disingenuous reasons to be made. Other times the reason is more sincere like The Lord of the Rings or even Scott Pilgrim vs The World, both based on popular product, but definitely had more thought put into them. Yet there are major consequences in taking a product and making a theatrical movie out it. Such as the question of your audience, are you making this for fans or the general public? If for the general public, then how much information is needed to identify the characters? Are you able to use all of the source material to explain things, and if not, what do you cut? If this is for the fans then aren’t you worried about losing money from not having the general public? Movie making is a business and if don’t make back what you put into it then that’s bad. Even if you take the business side out of it, are you sure fans will enjoy it? Do you include everything? Which could lead to stuffing too much stuff into a movie. Or do you exclude some things? Which could lead to some complaints on use of source material. The bottom line it comes to is the question: “Are movies a good medium for this product?”
So by now you’re asking yourself: “Why are we discussing this?” It’s because this was the sort of thing that was plaguing me regarding The Spongebob Squarepants Movie. “Is this movie made for me, a fan?” or “Is this movie made for a general audience?”. These two questions are basically the theme for this review. Why? Because the answer to question: “Would you like this movie?” is not so simple like it would be if the movie was Guardians of the Galaxy, because it’s Spongebob we’re talking about. Now by trying my best to reach both sides of the spectrum of fan and not-fan, by examining this movie based on three things: its story, its comedy, and its animation.
But first: a quick synopsis of the movie. Spongebob is super excited to become the new manager of the “Krusty Krab 2,” a new restaurant created by Mr. Krabs, his greedy boss, but is disappointed to discover he didn’t get the job for being viewed as an immature kid. While this is happening, Plankton, a tiny little creature bent on world domination, has stolen King Neptune’s crown and has framed Mr. Krabs with the crime. Now it’s up to Spongebob to find the crown to save Mr. Krabs from being executed while Plankton steals the Krabby Patty secret formula to enslave all the inhabitants from Bikini Bottom.
Based on this summary the story seems confusing, especially if you’re not a Spongebob fan. A lot of characters are doing a lot of different things with a lot of different significances that a non-fan audience member might be confused on. What’s nice about the movie is that it clearly identifies each of the important characters and their goals, but it’s very obvious to tell what is exposition and what isn’t. As a result the exposition is kind of clumsy. The pacing of the story is very quick, which is a bit of a problem with the movie. While the movie does identify each character’s personality and goal, it’s done so quickly that it feels like it expects you to know much of the background already. The movie has an underlying theme of personal acceptance since the main characters: Spongebob and Patrick, who are viewed as childish, are forcing themselves to become more mature, but in the end discover that it is better to be yourself than what others want you to be. It’s done decently well, and it’s especially good moral for kids since the main characters are undermined because of “being a kid”, and it turns out that they were the only ones who could do anything.
The comedy of the movie is very similar to the comedy of the show. A lot of slapstick, some satire, with a couple of questionable jokes. (And by that I mean, you don’t know if it was suppose to be funny or not.) And of course, it can’t be a kids show without some hidden innuendos. The best jokes are the slapstick while the dialogue jokes go back and forth between good and bad. Overall the jokes were pretty good, and there’s enough jokes for a non-fan to to get a chuckle here and there.
The animation is much better than the show. Colors are more vibrant and effectively represent the mood and situation. The expressions on the faces help make a joke even funnier. Some expressions are far more extreme than the show, which could be thanks to a bigger budget.
Overall I think the movie is pretty well done. While it does seem more to be directed more to the fans than a general audience, it still still has a pretty understandable plot, with good themes and morals, funny slapstick and nice animation to boot. If you are a Spongebob fan, you will definitely enjoy this. If you’re not a Spongebob fan, then you won’t. And if you’ve never watch anything Spongebob, this isn’t a bad way to start or learn about the show in general.