Paramount // 2004 // 104 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Packard (Retired) // February 9th, 2005
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?
If you're already familiar with the SpongeBob SquarePants animated series (and given its massive popularity with both the young and the young at heart, most likely you are), feel free to skip to the next paragraph and get right to the goods. Otherwise, as the series title indicates, SpongeBob is a talking yellow sponge (an absorbent and porous one at that) sporting boxy drawers. He loves jellyfish hunting and his job as a fry cook, whipping up delectable Krabby Patty burgers for the hungry citizens of Bikini Bottom. If you think that's a wee bit odd, consider some of the other inhabitants of SpongeBob's underwater world: His best friend is a goofy starfish; his next-door neighbor is a cranky squid with a passion for playing the clarinet; he's not above hanging out with an air-breathing, feisty squirrel from Texas; his boss is a greedy crab; and his pet is a snail that meows like a cat. I don't understand the combination of alcohol and medication that series creator Stephen Hillenburg must have ingested in coming up with such a wild menagerie of characters and settings, but trust me -- it works. There's no educational value here; SpongeBob SquarePants is pure whimsy and unabashed entertainment.
Shrewdly arriving in stores just prior to the theatrical release of SpongeBob SquarePants: The Movie, this compilation features eight episodes, each roughly 13 minutes in length, from season three:
* "Krusty Krab Training Video"
Ready to start cranking out those Krabby Patties? Drop that spatula! New employees must watch this orientation video on the history and regulations of the Krusty Krab restaurant. Complete with upbeat narration, cheesy corporate music, and PowerPoint-like chapter titles, this episode deviates from a "normal" SpongeBob episode in its style and presentation and will be most appreciated by adults who've sat through any corporate rah-rah or training video at some point in their lives. It's obvious that the writers had great fun coming up with this one. It also sports one of the best endings of any SpongeBob SquarePants episode produced to date.
* "Can You Spare a Dime?"
Squidward quits after Mr. Krabs accuses him of stealing his lucky dime. When SpongeBob takes in his unemployed friend, Squidward becomes the ultimate freeloader. Breakfast buffets in bed and bald head polishing quickly turn into SpongeBob responding to Squidward's every need. One hilarious sequence shows the exterior of SpongeBob's pineapple, lights flicking on and off as Squidward makes several late-night demands. When SpongeBob forgets to turn on his own light before tromping up the stairs, we know what's coming, and the sound of the sponge tumbling down the stairs is priceless. Despite the disturbing sight of SpongeBob dressed in his uniform (a French maid outfit), it's a fun episode, showcasing something viewers thought they'd never see -- Squidward and SpongeBob living under the same roof.
* "Missing Identity"
SpongeBob tells disinterested diners of the time he lost his Krusty Krab name tag and was forced to retrace his steps in an effort to find the missing badge. While I couldn't help but laugh at SpongeBob's "bleah!" as he repeatedly tasted Gary's "Snailpo" food, I found the episode rather dull. As SpongeBob finishes his tale, the diner's customer yawns. Indeed.
* "Krabby Land"
It's the first day of summer, and Mr. Krabs is ready to jack up the price of the Kiddie Meal and profit from all the unsupervised kids roaming Bikini Bottom. When the children are attracted to a new nearby playground, Mr. Krabs builds his own fun park to sway the youngsters. Behold "Krabby Land -- where a kid can have fun, for the right price!" In typical Mr. Krabs fashion, his attractions (Fort Adventure, Hose World, Toaster Rodeo, and Rocketship Fantastica) are a hodge-podge of old barrels, sheet metal, wood planks, and bamboo. Despite his attempts to keep the kids satisfied with free coloring books/liability waivers, the kids want to see Krabby the Clown. It's up to SpongeBob to distract them until Krabby arrives. This is a great episode, featuring Mr. Krabs at his greediest and cheapest.
* "Wet Painters"
SpongeBob and Patrick are assigned the special task of painting the inside of Mr. Krabs' house. The degree of difficulty for this seemingly simple task is amped when Mr. Krabs tells the duo he'll cut off their butts and mount them on his wall if they get any of the permanent paint on anything but the walls. Of course, the walls are covered with pictures, knick-knacks, and other treasures. Soon, SpongeBob and Patrick are dealing with flying paint droplets, a wall drip that appears to have a mind of its own, and two huge paint bubbles. Despite their best efforts, paint gets on Mr. Krabs' most prized possession -- his first dollar of profit -- forcing SpongeBob and Patrick to figure out how to remove the paint and literally save their rear ends. Another instant classic: Patrick is especially goofy in this one, and it's a hoot seeing the two friends go through their special brand of hell in trying to do something so simple as paint a room.
* "New Student Starfish"
SpongeBob brings Patrick along to Mrs. Puff's Boating School, proudly showing his friend things like "the room with the most class!" (the classroom) and "the ladle that helps us drink from the fountain of knowledge!" (the chalkboard). We learn that SpongeBob is a model student, sporting 74 "Good Noodle" gold stars earned for things like attendance, penmanship, and basic desk sanitation. Soon, his reputation is endangered as he and Patrick talk and laugh during class. When Patrick draws an unflattering picture of Mrs. Puff and passes it to his friend, SpongeBob loses a Good Noodle and is sent to the back of the class. Spitballs, an "embarrassing" fight in the hallway, and detentions ensue.
* "Mid-Life Crustacean"
Mr. Krabs fears that he's getting old. Being helped across the street by a Boy Scout-like young man and jeered by another for walking slow and leaving his blinker on for the past five blocks (a joke sure to fly right past the kids) aren't easing his concerns. When he overhears SpongeBob and Patrick planning a night of partying and fun, he thinks that going out with them is the cure to his ills. The night of debauchery includes hanging out at the Laundromat and watching the swirling clothes during the rinse cycle, picking up trash under the highway overpass, going to the dentist, and other similar hot-blooded activities. Can the finale -- a panty raid -- redeem an evening that otherwise redefines the word "losers"? Unfortunately, this episode is as boring as the trio's night of fun -- or lack thereof. Skip this one and head straight to the final episode on the disc.
* "The Camping Episode"
With SpongeBob and Patrick off for a weekend of camping, Squidward looks forward to a nice, relaxing weekend. When he learns that they're camping ten feet from their front door, he joins them in an attempt to prove that he's not soft. From his attempts to set up his tent to toasting marshmallows over a campfire, nothing goes right for Squidward. Repeated mauling by the supposedly-mythical "sea bear" round out Squidward's camping efforts. Warning to parents: This episode features SpongeBob's enthusiastic rendition of a campfire song entitled "The Campfire Song" and may lead to young viewers dancing around the house screaming "C-A-M-P-F-I-R-E-S-O-N-G song!" for days on end. I speak from experience; you've been warned.
Each episode is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio, and the visuals are sharp and colorful. The Dolby Digital audio brings clarity to SpongeBob's reverberating laugh and the other sounds of Bikini Bottom, but don't expect this disc to unleash the power of your home theater. For programming of this type, the video and audio are sufficient. Besides, it's SpongeBob -- kids would probably watch this on a snowy black-and-white television with a death rattle and have nary a complaint.
Aside from the episodes, a few extras are included. Curious viewers with an interest in animation will enjoy the storyboards included for four of the eight episodes. They're actually quite enjoyable, showing each scene in the episode in rough, blank-and-white sketches complete with notations on things like character movement and scene framing. Key dialogue is included, and it's fun to see how these static, sometimes-crude drawings become the dynamic, colorful episodes in the end.
If you have a DVD-ROM installed in your PC, the "Nick Recipes" extra will let you view and print four recipes (Kelp Kettle Corn Balls, Retroville Ranch Dip, Vicky's Not-So-Icky Veggie Sticks, and Green Slime Birthday Cake) from Stir, Squirt, Sizzle: A Nick Cookbook, a kid-friendly cookbook with creations inspired by characters from various Nickelodeon series. It's a nice little extra that, while shilling for the cookbook, gives parents and children an opportunity to get into the kitchen, interact, and have fun whipping up some treats.
In the end, die-hard SpongeBob fanatics won't hesitate in picking up this disc, but casual viewers may contemplate waiting for the inevitable complete set of season three's episodes. If history is any indication, realize that the complete set for season three is probably months away (season one was released on October 28, 2003; season two was released on October 19, 2004.) At around $12 retail, though, it's not a bad value -- roughly a buck fifty per episode, despite a couple of clunkers -- and it'll satisfy SpongeBob nuts until the inevitable release of season three.
The court knows this guy who knows this guy who knows this guy who knows this guy who knows this guy's cousin who finds SpongeBob SquarePants: Sponge for Hire not guilty. SpongeBob SquarePants is free to go and continue his stranglehold on the wallets of citizens everywhere.
Review content copyright © 2005 David Packard; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Running Time: 104 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Storyboards for "Missing Identity," "Krabby Land," "Wet Painters," and "New Student Starfish"
* Nick Recipes (DVD-ROM required)
* Official Site