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SpongeBob SquarePants: Truth or Square
SpongeBob Squarepants - Truth Or Square is the latest (almost) feature length movie to start everyone's favorite high pitched undersea fast-food worker. It originally aired on the Nickelodeon Channel and now makes its way to DVD with a few other episodes from season's past tacked on for good measure. Here's the rundown:
Truth Or Square:
This special tenth anniversary hour long feature starts off with a really strange live action/stop motion animation version of the infamous opening sequence before introducing us to Patchy The Pirate (Tom Kenny in human form) who we meet while he's bum rushing the Nickelodeon Studio under the false pretenses that he's auditioning for the SpongeBob Squarepants show. In reality, Patchy, who is the president of SpongeBob's fan club, is trying to use the studio to host an anniversary special for his favorite character. After high jacking a rolodex, and making a few calls, Patchy rounds up a bunch of celebrity guests including Pink, Will Ferrell, Rosario Dawson, Tina Fey, Triumph The Insult Comic Dog, Robin Williams and a few others.
Meanwhile, in the normal animated Bikini Bottom, the Krusty Krab is celebrating its eleventy-seventh anniversary and SpongeBob is as happy as happy can be. After we see a truly disturbing scene in which a fetus version of SpongeBob eats Krabby Patties from within his mother's womb and rips out his umbilical cord to eat more faster, he shows up for work he sees a massive line up outside. He meets up with Squidward and Mr. Krab and the three try to figure out how to best deal with the crowd and host a fantastic party in honor of this event. As the two stories progress, they start to intertwine with one another.
Truth Or Square isn't your typical episode, as it mixes up a lot of live action material in with the more traditional animated sequences to very unusual effect. As far as the quality of the content goes, some might be dismayed to see that Patchy gets as much, if not more, screen time as SpongeBob does here, but his bits are amusing enough that most probably won't mind. The plot is fairly generic, at least in terms of the Krusty Krab storyline, in that it's yet more nonsense involving SpongeBob's over-enthusiasm and Squidward's misanthropic attitude, but there's enough here in terms of the gags and the jokes that even if it's not a classic episode, it's still one worth seeing. The celebrity bits are also amusing and help set this one apart as well.
When SpongeBob and Patrick help out a clam they find choking, it spits out a pearl which they then sell to a jewelry store for loads of cash. Of course, with money comes popularity and soon SpongeBob finds himself the subject of the kind of attention he never had before. He takes off with his new found friends and leaves Patrick all by his lonesome but he soon realizes the mistake he's made and that money isn't nearly as important as friendship.
The Bikini Bottom Men's Choir is holding auditions and Squidward is bound and determined to make the cut. SpongeBob decides to come with him, much to Squidward's chagrin, and then decides that he too will audition for the choir. Who will make the cut and who will be left behind? And what will happen to the relationship between these two co-workers if one of them makes it and the other doesn't?
Mr. Krabs is in the audience at a local wrestling match where he learns that if anyone can defeat the tag team champions, they'll take home a one million dollar prize. Of course, Mr. Krabs wants in on this action and so he trains SpongeBob and Patrick in the finer arts of wrestling, telling them that it's all phony and that there's no risk. Of course, once the two friends get in the ring, it's a completely different story...
When the Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy trading cards are released, SpongeBob goes into full on collector mode when he learns, after buying a pack from the local comic book store, that there's a rare hologram card randomly inserted into one of the packs. Sponge Bob blows all his money but comes up empty handed, though Patrick buys a single pack and low and behold finds the very card his best friend was looking for.
The four bonus episodes are pretty standard stuff. They don't deviate from the norm much at all but that's probably what most of us want. Sponge Bob is popular partially for its predictability and for the way in which it sticks to a formula. More often than not there's a lesson kids can learn underneath all the insanity, but for the most part it's business as usual here.The DVD
The Truth Or Square special is shown in non-anamorphic 1.85.1 widescreen with the rest of the episodes shown in their standard fullframe broadcast aspect ratio. That said, just like the rest of the releases in the
SpongeBob Squarepants line of DVDs, this release looks quite nice. Colors are bright and crisp and there isn't any print damage to speak of. There is a bit of edge enhancement and some shimmering effects in a few of the episodes, but other than that, these cartoons look pretty good and none of the video issues take your attention away from the on-screen action.Sound:
The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix sounds pretty good. Once again, as with the earlier releases in the series, there's nothing to note in regards to hiss or audible defects. The directional effects are minor at best but the lefts and rights are distinguishable in the mix, and there aren't any problems following the dialogue and the background music is mixed and balanced to fit in with the dialogue and effects quite nicely.
Extras are light but there are a few treats here, starting with Behind The Scenes Of The SpongeBob Opening which is a six minute bit that looks at how the new tenth anniversary opening credits sequence was put together. Those with an interest in stop motion animation and how it works will be interested in this, and while it's a bit on the short side, it's interesting stuff. Aside from that there are karaoke music videos for three songs: We've Got Scurvy, Campfire Song Song and F.U.N.. Menus and episode selection are also included and when the disc loads there are trailers and promos for a few other Nickelodeon DVD releases.
SpongeBob Squarepants - Truth Or Square is an interesting special that, while not always completely successful, is at least worth checking out for fans of the long running series. The bonus episodes are welcome additions to the disc as well, and while the extras are light as usual, the audio and video quality is pretty decent (anamorphic enhancement of the feature notwithstanding). Recommended for completists, a good rental for the curious or casual fan.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.