Nickelodeon // 2009 // 89 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Erich Asperschlager // March 16th, 2009
Just keep breathin'
Everyone's favorite giggly dish-scrubber returns in one of my least favorite formats: a TV-on-DVD compilation. Where other shows put high price tags on short runtimes, however, the seven-episode SpongeBob SquarePants: SpongeBob vs. The Big One delivers 89 minutes of undersea goodness, including the world premiere of its titular adventure.
The collection kicks off with the double-length extravaganza "SpongeBob vs. the Big One." A hot day inspires Mr. Krabs to take his employees to the beach -- more specifically, to sell Krabby Patties out on the water. But when an accident sinks the operation, Mr. Krabs finds himself stranded in the middle of Dutchman's Triangle, and SpongeBob, Patrick, and Squidward wake up on the shore of a mysterious island. Its inhabitants, a group of beachbum surfers, tell them the only way back to Bikini Bottom is by surfboard, and the only one able to teach them to surf is the legendary Jack Kahuna Laguna (Johnny Depp), a mystical beefcake whose oneness with the waves impresses SpongeBob and Patrick almost as much as it infuriates Squidward.
In the second episode, "A Life in A Day," SpongeBob and Patrick's peaceful day at Goo Lagoon is interrupted by a motorcyle-riding, donut-spinning, basketball-jamming, crowd-pleasing lobster named Larry who tells them to stop wasting their lives and have some fun while they can. Patrick takes the message to heart, engaging in a series of dangerous stunts punctuated by shouts reminding himself to "Live like Larry!" SpongeBob's refusal to get involved becomes difficult when Patrick arrives at the Krusty Krab with a gang of angry bikers in pursuit.
SpongeBob and Patrick get caught up in a tanning craze that hits Bikini Bottom in "Sun Bleached." Everyone is preparing for a party thrown by wrinkly Adonis Craig Mammalton, the tannest man on TV. But when SpongeBob spends too much time in a homemade tanning bed, he has to find a way to go from dried to fried or risk missing the social event of the year.
After he gets sprayed with super kelp grow formula, regular-sized Squidward turns into "Giant Squidward" and finds himself on the bad side of the torch-wielding town populace.
In "No Nose Knows," the schnozz-less Patrick gets a nasal transplant, but discovers that not all smells are good ones. When he goes on a crusade against everything he thinks is an offending odor, his frustrated friends devise a plan to get him back to his four-senses.
Mr. Krabs entrusts SpongeBob with protecting the Krabby Patty secret ingredient. But when someone steals the ingredient right out from under his nose, SpongeBob goes on a mission to solve the "Patty Caper" and clear his name.
In the final episode, "Plankton's Regular," Mr. Krabs is as shocked to find out that the Chum Bucket has a regular customer. Unable to let his nemesis have even a paramecium of success, Krabs makes it his mission to lure the chum-lover back into the Krusty Krab fold -- by any means necessary.
If you compare the length of this episode collection to the average animated movie, it's not a bad deal. When you compare it to SpongeBob's complete season sets, though, it gets trickier. Why shell out for seven episodes on DVD when these will all one day be part of a larger set? The big draw here, of course, is the title episode (which won't hit TV until April 2009), and the draw of that episode is its superstar special guest. Johnny Depp is big business. Even though he has hardly any lines in "The Big One," the fact that Depp is in it should net more than a few sales. It helps that the story is fun and would be worth watching even without the stunt casting. The episode has a second special guest, too, but since his reveal is a decent gag, I'll keep his identity a mystery. A warning, though: If you really want to be surprised, don't watch the opening credits too closely.
The rest of the episodes are from the current sixth season. If you're dying to have them on DVD right away, here's your chance. Just know that those who hold out will eventually be rewarded with a complete season box set. The choice is yours.
The full screen picture is rich and colorful, capturing the long-running cartoon's every trippy detail. The audio track is equally crisp and impressive, though only in stereo. There are two short extras: a MST3K-style "commentary" by Plankton for an abbreviated version of "The Big One," and a music video for the Ramones-inspired "Ridin' the Hook." Neither are reason enough to buy the disc, but it's a nice add if you were going to pick it up anyway.
If you're having trouble deciding whether to pick up SpongeBob vs. The Big One, you're thinking too hard. The double-length episode is a fun take on beach bunny surf fare, and is backed by a decent sextet of recent SpongeBob adventures. Completists might want to show a little restraint, but if you're dying for a talking sponge fix, go ahead and dive in.
Not guilty, dude!
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Music Video