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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie
The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie
Paramount // PG // March 1, 2005
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Scott Lecter | posted March 13, 2005 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Movie:

Are you ready, kids? I can't hear you…



src="http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/images/reviews/127/1110768909.jpg"
align="left" hspace="5" vspace="5" width="200" height="113">I can remember
exactly the two specific moments when I fell in love with SpongeBob
SquarePants
as a television cartoon. One involves the
surprising appearance of Nosferatu, and the other includes the
guest appearance of John Lurie as a fisherman. Sure, these are
two very odd moments for me to choose as my reason for being
forever hooked into the undersea world of Bikini Bottom, but
these moments encompass everything that is so great about the
show itself. What initially attracted me to SpongeBob
SquarePants
were the silly dialogue and the fact that it
seemed so absurd for a sponge (let alone one that looks like
something you'd find in your kitchen sink) to be the impetus for
a children's cartoon. What held my long-term attraction to the
show, however, was the clever dialogue, fairly adult in-jokes,
and the pop culture references that no child (let alone most
adults) would ever get. I mean, how many kids do you
know that have any idea who Nosferatu is? How many kids (or
adults without the complete set of Criterion Collection DVDs)
would understand why it's so funny that John Lurie plays a
fisherman in one episode? My point exactly. This is the genius
that is Stephen Hillenburg's SpongeBob SquarePants.



Okay, okay. I know exactly what you're about to say. That's all
fine and great, but what does it have to do with The
SpongeBob SquarePants Movie
? Well, that nice long
introduction is my way of justifying the fact that, while it's a
really enjoyable, fun film, it doesn't really live up to the
genius of its television counterpart. As much fun as I had and as
many times as I laughed during The SpongeBob SquarePants
Movie
, I just couldn't get over the feeling that it all
added up to being slightly disappointing when compared to the
episodes on the small screen. It's almost as if Hillenburg had
too much time and too many resources at his disposal, and
(possibly at the behest of studio pressure) chose to make a much
more child-oriented film than I had expected. There's no
mistaking the fact that the kiddies will eat this one up. They
will love every single bright, shiny, noisy moment of it, but
what about us older folks? Where are all the clever little
twists, in-jokes, and pop culture references? Where are Nosferatu
and John Lurie when you need them?



src="http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/images/reviews/127/1110769120.jpg"
align="right" hspace="5" vspace="5" width="200" height="113">The sheer lack
of all these pieces of the SpongeBob puzzle is my major issue
with The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. Gone are the
aspects that I find most appealing about the television show.
Sure, the opening live-action sequence is absolute genius, the Batman
reference is cute, and the David Hasslehoff appearance (however
strange) is funny and clever, but that's about where it ends in
terms of adult-oriented elements. What makes me tune-in to every
episode of the cartoon seems to get the short end of the stick in
Hillenburg's feature film effort. It's unfortunate, but it's the
truth.



Speaking of the short end of the stick, therein lies my only
other real criticism of the film. What did Sandy Cheeks,
Squidward, Mrs. Puff, and all the other secondary characters in SpongeBob
SquarePants
do to make Stephen Hillenburg mad? Whatever it
was, it must have been pretty bad because they've really been
relegated to the background in The SpongeBob SquarePants
Movie
. Aside from Squidward, these characters barely even
get any screen-time in the film, let alone something meaningful
to do. It's really an unfortunate situation, as these characters
make for some of the biggest laughs in the episodes. Hillenburg,
instead, decides to introduce several new characters into the
land of Bikini Bottom. And don't get me wrong, I understand his
predicament. He clearly had a much larger canvas to fill in the
feature film than on the small screen, and he probably needed to
add a few unknown characters in order to get some major stars
attached as voice actors. Or maybe he just wanted to try
something a little bit different for the film. Nevertheless, the
results aren't all bad. Jeffrey Tambor and Scarlett Johansson are
very endearing as King Neptune and his Princess daughter. They
make a fine addition to the undersea world. I have no issues with
them being in the film, but it doesn't take away from the fact
that I dearly missed the usual secondary characters. I just wish
Hillenburg had given them more to do in this film.



src="http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/images/reviews/127/1110769088.jpg"
align="left" hspace="5" vspace="5" width="200" height="113">I'm probably
being too hard on The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie
though. It most certainly is a very entertaining, fun film that
the whole family can enjoy. Despite everything I've mentioned, I
did have a good time with Hillenburg's film. SpongeBob, himself,
is as lovable and naïve as ever, and the introduction of even
more live-action elements worked great on the big screen. In the
end, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie is still a fine
film (and much better than most big screen adaptation of small
screen cartoons). It merely fails to reach my admittedly mighty
expectations and never quite matches the sheer genius of the show
itself.



The DVD



Video:

src="http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/images/reviews/127/1110768793.jpg"
align="right" hspace="5" vspace="5" width="200" height="113">The
SpongeBob SquarePants Movie
is presented in an absolutely
breathtaking anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer. Animation like this is
all about bright, shiny colors, and the vibrant colors of Bikini
Bottom and its inhabitants have never looked better than they do
in this transfer. The wide range of colors are all incredibly
bright, but never bloom or bleed, and saturation is spot-on
throughout. Even the various shades of blue in the underwater
environment are well differentiated. The animated scenes are
sharply detailed and black levels are deep and rich. Even the
scenes that mix live action with animation are beautifully
handled here. Shadows and lighting are well delineated while the
lack of any noticeable digital artifacts makes this transfer even
more impression. Overall this is a top-notch visual presentation
for which I could find nary a fault.



Sound:

The audio on this disc is presented in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and
Dolby 2.0 Surround formats, which are nearly as impressive as the
visual presentation. While both tracks do a fine job, the obvious
choice here is the Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Dialogue is always
crisp, clear, and distinct, while spatial separation across the
front soundstage is excellent. The surround channels do a nice
job of providing an undersea ambience that places you right in
the midst of Bikini Bottom. Throughout the film, there are
directional effects with bubbling sounds coming from the surround
speakers. The presence of these subtle effects make you feel as
though you're a part of the undersea world of The SpongeBob
SquarePants Movie
. The soundtrack also plays a large role in
the film and it is presented nicely on this track, melding
seamlessly with the rest of the audio, and never becoming
overwhelming. While there are a few moments throughout the film
where the LFE channel does kick in quite nicely, my only
complaint with this audio presentation is that this low-end
frequency could have been a bit more forceful and used even more
frequently. Otherwise, this is an excellent track that provides a
very enveloping aural experience.



Extras:

Paramount wisely chose not to only include extra features that
appeal to the kiddies on this DVD release. Instead, they've
provided a nice assortment of bonus material that serves as a
fine companion to the film itself.



src="http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/images/reviews/127/1110768708.jpg"
align="left" hspace="5" vspace="5" width="200" height="113">The main extra
feature on this disc is an 18-minute featurette called "The
Absorbing Tale Behind
The SpongeBob
SquarePants Movie
." Featuring
interviews with most of the principal cast and crew, this feature
is more an introduction the world of SpongeBob than a real
behind-the-scenes look at the film. For those unfamiliar with the
show, it serves as a great way to learn about Bikini Bottom and
all that happens there. While there is some talk of what was
different about the feature film from the show, it would have
been nice to have a bit more depth in this featurette. People who
have seen the show (and especially those who watch it
religiously) won't find a lot of new information here. It is,
however, still an interesting look at the people behind the
scenes.



Next up is a 15-minute featurette called "Case of
the Sponge 'Bob'"
that is really more of a short
film than your usual promotional featurette. Hosted by Jean-Michel
Cousteau, this little film takes a look at all the real-life
counterparts to the undersea creatures that inhabit Bikini
Bottom. There is some gorgeous underwater photography, and the
amount of actual information in this feature is surprising.
Anyone with an interest in sea creatures will love this feature.
It's not only a fun little film, but also much more educational
than I had expected.



Also included on this disc are 20 minutes worth of Animatics,
which showcase entire scenes from the film complete with dialogue
from the original artists. It's an interesting feature that shows
just how strongly the filmmakers relied on their storyboards when
making The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. We also have a
short informational feature called "Saving the
Surf"
that really serves as a promotional piece for
the Surf Rider Foundation - an organization dedicated to saving
our nation's oceans and beaches. They simply preach the
importance of protecting our beaches and provide information on
how to become a member.



Finally, we have the teaser trailer for The
SpongeBob SquarePants Movie
, as well as trailers
for Lemony Snicket's: A Series of Unfortunate Events and
SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete Second Season on
DVD. Also included on the DVD-Rom portion of the disc is a THQ
Game Demo
for The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie
game.



Final Thoughts:

If you're a parent, this one's a no-brainer. Chances are you took
your children to see The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie
several times in the theater and swiped this disc up as fast as
it hit the store shelves. Despite some missteps, by Creator
Stephen Hillenburg, in translating his enormously successful
cartoon to the big screen, he still manages to craft an
entertaining, clever little film about everyone's favorite
square, yellow sponge. You can't go wrong with a disc that
provides a nearly perfect audio-visual presentation, and also
manages to pack in a nice assortment of extra material. The extra
features, while appealing to the younger audiences, are
insightful enough to cater to the older crowd as well. While it
may not live up to the greatness of its small screen counterpart,
The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie still comes as highly
recommended for anyone in the mood for a little fun.

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