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The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie

Starring Tom Kenny, Rodger Bumpass, Alec Baldwin, Bill Fagerbakke, Carolyn Lawrence
Written by and Storyboards by Stephen Hillenburg, Derek Drymon, Tim Hill, Kent Osborne, Aaron Springer and Paul Tibbitt
Based on the Nickelodeon cartoon character
Directed by Stephen Hillenburg and Sherm Cohen
website: www.nick.com

IN SHORT: For kidlets and stoners. [PG for some mild crude humor. 90 minutes]

Expecting nothing but 90 minutes of pain and suffering -- three times as much as we got from the one and only viewing of the SpongeBob television 'toon we had, a couple of years back -- we were surprised to release one guffaw and three chuckles from The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. Again, that's one guffaw and three chuckles more than we expected so that makes this movie a success. We guess. None of the kidlets left in the family have any interest in SpongeBob, so we can only go by the reactions of the three and four year olds sitting around us. Most seemed more overwhelmed by the big screen experience, for those of parenting age know that there's little point in taking a three or four year old to a movie theater, and they sat wide eyed and slack jawed. The really good jokes got laughs and the reactions were about as good as any fankid could deliver. SpongeBob SquarePants delivers a presold audience. Our purpose, such as it is, is to take a look at the 'toon from a 'toonhead POV or an adult POV and report whether or not it can stand on its own feet as a worthy experience.

We stopped getting high decades ago, folks. We have no illusions about what the adult SpongeBob fans are doing beforehand. When a movie based on a popular 'ton hits the screen, we always plant to see how much of the big screen expansion takes into account that grownups will be lugged in by their kids. Some do it brilliantly. Some just don't care, which is fine -- adults who can't zone out and enjoy watching their kids enjoy shouldn't be the luggees (sic).

Living in the underwater town of Bikini Bottom, where fire burns and residents need showers, is Our Hero. SpongeBob SquarePants (voiced by Tom Kenny) is, well, a talking sponge named Bob who, because of his physical construction wears square pants. Thus the name. As the movie begins, SpongeBob is delirious at the prospect of being named Manager of the Krusty Krab 2 -- the first in a chain expansion of the restaurant run by Eugene Krabs (Clancy Brown) in which SpongeBob works. Across the street is another eating establishment, run by the evil Plankton (Doug Lawrence). Determined to put his rival out to lunch, so to speak, Plankton steals King Neptune's crown and frames Mr. Krabs as the villain. Neptune (Jeffrey Tambor) is ready to execute Krabs on the spot but, thanks to the cooler words of his daughter Mindy (Scarlett Johansson) allows SpongeBob and his best friend Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke) a couple of days to find and retrieve the crown. And so begins this Lord of the Rings for the single digit set. No ring. No Lord, though there is a nasty, evil, black clad varmint named Dennis (Alec Baldwin) hot on the trail of them thar Heroes.

One laugh and two of three chuckles later, David Hasselhoff appears as David Hasselhoff to provide a suitable deus ex machina to the story.

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie does what it is supposed to do. It provides a kidlet friendly introduction to the big screen movie experience for fans of the small screen version. There's nothing here for any non-fan, but we suspect everybody everywhere already knows that. If the opposite had been the case, we'd be screaming our surprise to the high heavens. But we're not.

Kidflicks don't get a dollar rating since there's little point. Once they see the big screen version, (we) grownups will be buying the DVD so we can run to the other side of the house while the kids are otherwise occupied with endless repeats.

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