Flashback Review: The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie

In 1999, “SpongeBob SquarePants” officially aired on Nickelodeon. Created by the late Stephen Hillenburg, the show is about a cheerful workaholic sponge going on misadventures working at The Krusty Krab, going jellyfishing, hanging out with his best friend Patrick Star, pestering his neighbor/co-worker Squidward and prevent Plankton from stealing Mr. Krabs’ krabby patty secret formula. The show became a huge hit breaking “Rugrats” record as the longest running Nicktoons series. SpongeBob also became one of the biggest money making franchises spawning merchandise, memes, action figures, plush toys, t-shirts, video games & SpongeBob’s cinematic debut titled, “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie.”

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie was released in 2004. (same year Shrek 2 came out) It received positive reviews from critics, fans and movie goers alike. In addition to critical praise, SpongeBob’s first movie made enough money at the box office. Nine Years Later, a sequel called, “Sponge Out Of Water” was released in 2015. Another sequel known as “Sponge On The Run” streamed on Paramount Plus in 2021.

I have no intention to review “Kamp Koral” & “The Patrick Star Show.” Reason why? Nickelodeon betrayed Stephen Hillenburg’s promise not to produce spin-offs. They did behind his back. A legit reason why I decided to look back at The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie is in fact, a crossover video game titled, “Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl” inspired by the “Super Smash Bros.” series will be out later this year.

It doesn’t matter if SPOILERS are present. Many of us 90s Babies who grew up watching SpongeBob’s early seasons are aware of his misadventures.

Hydrated & Dehydrated Aspects

Hydrated: Voice Actors from the show such as Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Roger Bumpass, Mr. Lawrence & Clancy Brown all did an excellent job for their respective voiceover performances.

Stephen Hillenburg did an amazing job mapping out SpongeBob’s cinematic debut as a director, producer and writer.

Stephen’s posse Tim Hill, Paul Tibbitt, Aaron Springer & Kent Osborne contributed as co-writers.

According to Stephen, the show and the film’s primary influences are Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Laurel & Hardy, Jerry Lewis, The Three Stooges & Pee Wee Herman. Stephen was a big comedy fan.

Jeffrey Tambor, Scarlett “Scarjo” Johansson, Alec Baldwin & David Hasselhoff all did a great job for their respective performances.

Fun Fact: Alec participated in both The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie & Channel Chasers. His daughter Ireland grew up watching both shows. Before he called her a pig. Alec was spoofed in “Team America: World Police.”

Animation is given more polish detail. This gave the animators more time to create a beautiful immersive colorful world.

Humor retains the show’s known use of witty dialogue, visual gags and slapstick. Some of them contain innuendos I never understood as a kid. For example, one scene shows SpongeBob & Patrick literally slapping themselves during the musical number, “Now That We’re Men.”

Unlike most previous episodes told as a self-contain episode sharing no continuity, the story is told in a Three Act Structure adding more depth, emotional/external conflict for SpongeBob’s character arc, Plankton is more ruthless yet less incompetent and the stakes have permanent consequences without turning back.

Chemistry between SpongeBob & Patrick served as the main highlight. They’re like Harry & Lloyd from “Dumb & Dumber.”

Character Development involving SpongeBob. As the film progresses, he overcomes dangerous obstacles with help from Patrick.

Primary Themes are Friendship, Maturity & Growing Up.

Plankton’s wife Karen is a computer. This predates Spike Jonze’s “Her” with Joaquin Phoenix who falls in love with an A.I. voiced by Scarjo.

For the first time, SpongeBob drives properly. His vehicle is The Pattymobile. A reference to Kenan Thompson & Kel Mitchell’s movie “Good Burger.” Even Roger Ebert pointed out both movies are produced by Nickelodeon & Paramount Pictures. After many episodes, SpongeBob is officially an accomplished driver. After the movie came out, he somehow loses his skill. I know it’s a cartoon, but continuity matters. Imagine if Dil from “The Rugrats Movie” never appeared in the actual show set after his debut?

The movie shares continuity with a few episodes. King Triton appears with a new look. He first encounter SpongeBob in “Neptune’s Spatula.” SpongeBob & Patrick are dying from dehydration in Shell City mirrors their predicament from Sandy Cheeks’ first appearance “Tea At The Treedome.” The duo stop at a dead end as the road descends down to another dangerous part outside Bikini Bottom. A subtle callback to “Rock Bottom.” I see why they refuse to go down.

SpongeBob & Patrick’s favorite place “Goofy Goober” makes its debut. It later made a few appearances on the show.

Plankton also makes an accomplishment. He finally steals the Krabby Patty secret formula. Despite us viewers not knowing what the burgers are made from, he won. I’ll assume the krabby patty formula is “sea cows.” Come on fellas, there’s already a sea bear from “The Camping Episode.”

Plankton’s grandmaster plan is turning everybody in Bikini Bottom into his pawns. When Squirdward is overwhelmed by the citizens wearing mind control buckets, it becomes a zombie movie. Coincidentally, “Dawn Of The Dead” & “Shaun Of The Dead” both came out in 2004.

Plankton becomes a sociopath. He’s willing to witness Ling Neptune kill Mr. Krabs & controls Bikini Bottom into his utopia. He’s more homicidal than The Fairy Godmother, Prince Charming, Syndrome, Peter Pettigrew, Don Lino, Count Olaf, Regina George & Prince Hector. Can you guess all aforementioned baddie and which movie he/she appeared?

SpongeBob uses the Power Of Rock defeating Plankton as well as destroying the mind control buckets. The song, “I’m A Goofy Goober” is a parody of Twisted Sister’s “I Wanna Rock.”

Scarjo signed up to voice Princess Mindy, because she’s a fan of cartoons. Her favorite is “Ren & Stimpy.”

I’m gonna give The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie & “The Prestige” credit for introducing me to one of my favorite actresses and my celeb crush Scarjo.

Stephen personally selected Wilco, Ween & The Flaming Lips The latter is one of my favorite bands.

During The End Credits, SpongeBob sings “Best Day Ever.” An episode named after the song is also featured. I would assume the late Mac Miller (god bless his soul) named Best Day Ever after his album. He & Ariana Grande grew up watching SpongeBob.

A Post-Credits Scene is played for laughs. By the way, Mageina Tovah (Ursula Ditkovich from Spider-Man 2 & 3) makes a cameo appearance as a theater usher.

Dehydrated: I couldn’t find anything bad. I’m giving The Cast & Crew an Extra Point for making a flawless animated movie as possible.

The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie is arguably the best (if not the best) Nickelodeon related movie ever made. All the positive things I’ve listed as hydrated, indicates why it’s the best SpongeBob movie. If you wanna prep up for Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl, I strongly recommend SpongeBob’s big screen debut.

R.I.P. Stephen Hillenburg. Thank you for the memories. Your legacy and series will never be forgotten.

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