While the appeal of a rectangular yellow sponge living in a psychedelic underwater world may be lost on the greater population, it lives in vivid and joyous color on the big screen. With “The Spongebob Squarepants Movie” DVD, Spongebob has made the transition from the big screen back to the small screen in one fabulous, childish leap. With the opening of the new Krusty Krab restaurant, Mr. Krabs needs a new manager — and who better to fill the spot than Spongebob, the best fry cook in the Pacific? Sadly, things don’t quite go his way, but even with his career dreams shattered by Squidward’s promotion, Spongebob finally has a chance at glory. He tries to retrieve King Neptune’s crown from the forbidden metropolis of Shell City, thereby saving his boss from death. He also delivers all of Bikini Bottom from mental enslavement by Plankton, the tiny evil genius who is behind the whole catastrophe. Together with his endearingly stupid best friend, Patrick Star, Spongebob’s journey moves in stages from a road trip to a struggle against monsters and a nasty hitman and finally into a quest for self-discovery.The greatest strength of this gleefully immature cartoon is easily the humor it draws from every aspect of life. Spongebob and Patrick act like two grown-up kids whose perception of the world is lovably naïve. Through their eyes, the movie becomes one enormous journey through a world of entertaining musical numbers, imaginative characters (voiced by Tom Kenny, Alec Baldwin, Scarlett Johansson and others) and a visually spectacular stint in the world of live action. A special appearance by David Hasselhoff adds to the childish splendor of the film.The film itself steers away from the sleek animation popular in today’s cartoon features, and the resulting colors and angles are clear and sharp. The special features on the DVD are also worthwhile; they include a 20-minute featurette about the origins of the movie by creator Stephen Hillenberg and the actors who voice the characters. An educational short with Jean-Michel Cousteau explores the natural origins of Spongebob and his world, and there’s also a short clip emphasizing the importance of preserving the oceans entitled “Saving the Surf.” As a whole package, this DVD will appeal more to a younger audience (especially since the special features are geared toward elementary school kids who follow the show faithfully). The movie itself, however, is entertaining for any age. This DVD just goes to show that Spongebob, who lives in a pineapple under the sea, is the one of the coolest little yellow guys around.
Movie: 4 out of 5 stars
Picture/Sound: 4 out of 5 stars
Special Features: 3 out of 5 stars