The Michigan Daily discovered in April 2005 that several articles written by arts editor Marshall W. Lee did not meet the newspaper’s standard of ethical journalism. Parts of these stories had been plagiarized from other news sources. Although the article below has not been found to contain plagiarism, the Daily no longer stands by its content. For details, see the Daily’s editorial.

Film Reviews
“How do you like my lederhosen?” (Courtesy of Paramount)

 

SpongeBob SquarePants, the delightfully dim aquatic Candide singlehandedly keeping Nickelodeon’s ship afloat, is unquestionably the coolest sponge in the sea. And now with “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie,” a feature-length adaptation of his hit half-hour program, Bikini Bottom’s favorite fry-cook is also the coolest sponge on the screen.

If the raucous, indulgent nonsense of SpongeBob (voiced by Tom Kenny) and his oafish best buddy Patrick Star (Bill Fagerbakke) has never graced the hallowed ground of your TiVo, then this 90-minute quirk-fest from series creator Stephen Hillenburg may seem an insufferably aggressive exercise in stupidity. But for the mind-bending mix of elementary-age tykes and 20-something hipsters who faithfully follow the small-screen antics of SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward and Sandy, the movie’s joyous irreverence will not disappoint (David Hasselhoff as deus ex machina? You bet your porous, yellow ass!)

Unlike other animated fare with an eye for adult humor, the charming heart of Hillenburg’s underwater world has always been the celebration of SpongeBob’s childish virtue, his wonderfully na�ve belief that everything will turn out fine before the credits roll. It’s no big shock then that the story of SpongeBob’s big-screen adventure is basically the triumph of juvenile determination over grown-up disbelief. In the movie, SpongeBob is dismayed when his managerial dreams are dashed by Mr. Krabs, proprietor of the fast-food joint where our yellow hero mans the grill. With SpongeBob away on a wild ice-cream bender, the time is ripe for Bikini Bottom’s pintsized scoundrel and rival restaurateur Plankton to put into motion his evil plan for world domination. This scheme involves the theft of King Neptune’s crown, which SpongeBob and Patrick promptly set off to retrieve with the helpful guidance of the King’s daughter Mindy (Scarlett Johansson). Along the way the duo encounters various dangers, hilarious obstacles and the unabashed goofiness of several show-stopping musical numbers.

What is most refreshing about “SpongeBob” is Hillenburg’s blatant disregard for the Hallmark morality and jazzy CGI animation of most children’s programming. The static, 2-D backgrounds and vibrant colors have the convoluted look and feel of an aquatic acid trip, and the strident absurdity of SpongeBob’s world is a delightful reprieve from the self-important and self-righteous attitude of many films aimed at kids (see “The Polar Express”). The regression away from cynicism, sarcasm and violence is simple and joyous, creating a vacuum where buoyant good cheer and wide-eyed amazement can thrive entirely on their own terms.

Despite ubiquitous butt-jokes and a smattering of outdated pop-culture references, the infantile, absurdist genius of Hillenburg and crew makes every moment wild and fresh, and in these troubling times of unrelenting evil and election postmortem, who among us couldn’t use some time alone with a happy, hopeful sponge?

 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *