March 5, 2008 -- My colleague, Patrick Ivers, and I decided to review this movie after reading an article about how it was infested with sexual images relating to pedophilia. The film has also been attacked as promoting homosexuality. Frankly, I didn't see a lot of that kind of stuff in the film. It was more like a crude, trivial, silly movie aimed at children. It was very mildly amusing and not really disturbing although its humor is vulgar at times.
I had not seen any SpongeBob SquarePants stuff before, including the TV show. This particular film has to do with SpongeBob (who looks like a commercial sponge, not a real sponge) who is all giddy because he thinks he is going to be named the manager of the new Krusty Krab 2 restaurant. He gets into the shower with a co-worker named Squidward. This is one of those suggestive scenes that get the social conservatives riled up. One critic thought he saw the showering character with a giant erection, but it was actually just one of his arms. Anyway, Squidward did not appreciate SpongeBob's uninvited intrusion into his shower and promptly threw him through an upper story window. That's not what I call homoeroticism, or pedophilia, for that matter. That is good old-fashioned cartoon violence. The next door neighbor, Patrick Star, who I guess is supposed to be some kind of starfish, appears nude briefly and shows off his buttocks, as does SpongeBob in another very brief scene (no pun intended).
Patrick also appears in the buff in another scene, swinging on a rope, with a flag that reads “SpongeBob” wedged between his buttocks. Now that is kind of disgusting, I have to admit, but it does seem to be a crude attempt at humor, not at eroticism. The problem with reading too much into scenes like this is that cartoon humor these days is often vulgar and unsophisticated. The same can be said for most live action Hollywood comedies. As critic Kevin Karr put it so succinctly, “SpongeBob SquarePants is one of those newer generation cartoons where obnoxiousness has replaced bitter sarcasm and gross-out humor has replaced violent slapstick.” This is all part of the dumbing down of America. Go back and look at some of the old Bugs Bunny cartoons. The humor, the cultural and musical references in them are pretty sophisticated. There is some of that in SpongeBob Squarepants, too, but way too much of it is just crude and dumb.
The story gets going when a rather large plankton who is envious of the success of the Krusty Krab restaurant, steals King Neptune's crown and frames Krusty Krab owner Mr. Krab for the crime. He then steals Mr. Krab's secret recipe for Krabby Patties and soon is doing a booming business at his own restaurant, the Chum Bucket. SpongeBob and Patrick have to travel far away from Bikini Bottom to rescue King Neptune's crown and return it before Mr. Krab is executed for a crime he didn't commit. On their way, they meet a deep sea diver, a motorcycle-riding hired killer and David Hasselhoff. Some parts of the film inventively combine live action with animation. The world of SpongeBob is very strange, although he lives underwater, things burn and nobody floats or swims. Gravity affects them as if they are living on the surface of the earth in an environment of air instead of water. There are a few laughs for adults in this film. There are a few clever cultural references. Mostly, however, I found it underwhelming. It is probably O.K. for kids, though. It rates a C.
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