Absorbent and yellow and porous is...wait, that's the script
13 November 2004
Warning: Spoilers
He's a slippery slope, this SpongeBob SquarePants.

The appeal of a cartoon, Jerry Lewis-like talking sponge has always been lost on me, and it continues to elude me with "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie." Yet people around me were laughing as though it was the funniest thing since cardboard pants. (Pardon me, that's one of the movie's excuses for a sight gag.) As with the TV show, the movie's setting is Bikini Bottom, the undersea town where S.B. and his cohorts live. Without giving away too much plot (which is meager enough as it is), the story involves The Krusty Krab, famed for its "Krabby Pattie" sandwich and its employment of S.B.; a villainous plankton who wants to steal the "Krabby Pattie" secret recipe and its resulting profits; and an undersea king (voiced by Jeffrey Tambor) who has had his crown stolen, leaving him as helpless as Samson was after his enforced haircut.

And as with the TV version, the movie's gag construction consists of taking a joke that might work as a throwaway and stretching it far beyond its due. The idea, I guess, is not that the gag itself is funny, so much as the fact that the moviemakers are beating you over the head with it to make you laugh. As Mel Brooks' movie career can show you, this sort of comedy eventually suffers from the law of diminishing returns.

And the movie even does its own twist on a movie cliché. One of critic Roger Ebert's pet peeves is "The Fallacy of the Talking Villain." That's the cliché where the bad guy has the good guy by the short hairs and could easily do him in, except that he brags endlessly about himself and gives the good guy time to escape.

This movie's climax (spoiler alert here) creates "The Fallacy of the Talking Hero," where the bad guy could easily do in SpongeBob, except that the bad guy is so hypnotized by S.B.'s brainless chatter that it gives S.B. a chance to save the day.

In the end, the movie is what it is. If you like the TV show, you'll love the flick. If you're a parent who's never seen the show and gets dragged to the movie by your kid...well, you knew the job was dangerous when you took it.

"The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie" is rated PG for mild crude humor.
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