Director – Stephen Hillenburg, Screenplay – Derek Drymon, Tim Hill, Stephen Hillenburg, Kent Osbourne, Aaron Springer & Paul Tibbitt, Story/Based on the TV Series Created Stephen Hillenburg, Producers – Stephen Hillenburg & Julia Pictor, Photography – Jerzy Zielinski, Music – Gregor Norholz, Sequence Directors – Derek Drymon & Mark Osbourne, Visual Effects – WBA Visual Effects (Supervisor – Brad Kuehn), Makeup Effects/Animatronics – Tony Gardner and Alterian Inc, Production Design – Nick Jennings. Production Company – Nickelodeon Movies/United Plankton Pictures.
Tom Kenny (Spongebob Squarepants), Bill Fagerbakke (Patrick Star), Mr. Lawrence (Plankton), Jeffrey Tambor (King Neptune), Scarlett Johansson (Princess Mindy), Clancy Brown (Eugene Krabs), Roger Bumpass (Squidward), Alec Baldwin (Dennis), Jill Talley (Karen the Computer Wife)
David Hasselhoff (Himself)
On Bikini Bottom, Spongebob Squarepants goes to his job at the Krusty Krab restaurant, expecting to be named the manager of the new store that owner Eugene Krabs is planning to open. Instead, the job is given to Squidward. Meanwhile, Mr Krabs’ rival Plankton wants to obtain the secret Krusty Krabs formula so hatches a plan in which he steals King Neptune’s crown and leaves a note blaming Mr Krabs. An angry King Neptune plans to incinerate Mr Krabs with his trident but Spongebob pleads that he can retrieve the crown. Spongebob is granted six days to do so. And so he and Patrick set out on a journey across the wastelands to Shell City in order to retrieve the crown from the fearsome cyclops that is reputed to live there.
Spongebob Squarepants (1999– ) was one of the sleeper phenomena of mid-00s children’s television. The show appeared on the US Nickelodeon channel and its zanily surreal sense of humour made it a crossover hit with adult audiences and in no time it became Nickelodeon’s most successful show. The series concerned the adventures of the title character, a sponge who lived on the ocean floor near Bikini Bottom, and his best friend and neighbour, the starfish Patrick Star. Series creator Stephen Hillenburg had previously been a lecturer in marine biology and conceived the idea for Spongebob after seeing how children were fascinated by marine life. One of the spinoffs of the success of the tv series was this cinematically released film.
One suspects that part of the inspiration for Spongebob Squarepants was the success of The Ren and Stimpy Show (1991-6), which also appeared on Nickelodeon. The blithely, indeed almost manically, cheerful Spongebob is a far happier character than the mean-spiritedness that often ran through Ren and Stimpy, but what the two share in common is the same surreal sense of humour. This is often quite hilarious – like the image of watching Spongebob getting up in the morning, dressing in his suit, which is like a cardboard box, and showering by eating a cake of soap and then attaching a showerhead to himself.
Especially hilarious is when he and Patrick set forth to Shell City in the car, which is a giant hamburger – one that comes replete with pickles for wheels and a French fryer for an engine. The film’s sense of wacky humour is best summed up when Spongebob and Patrick arrive at a line in the desert where two old-timers say “You wouldn’t last ten seconds across the county line,” where they step across, the burgermobile is promptly snatched and they return to the old-timers “How long was that?” to be told “twelve seconds” and burst into cheers.
The film reaches its demented stride when it arrives at the roughneck bar in the wreck of a ship and Spongebob and Patrick are forced into a line-up to prove whether they are bubble-blowing kids by singing the Gooby Goofer song without breaking into delight. Or where they come across an ice cream parlour surrounded by skeletons in the middle of nowhere and stop to get an ice cream cone only for the frontispiece of the parlour to fall away and reveal that the cashier holding out an ice cream is a mannequin attached to the gizzard of a sea monster that starts pursuing them.
Particularly hilarious is the climax that features a cameo from David Hasselhoff, parodying his role in Baywatch (1989-2001). Hasselhoff decides to ferry Spongebob and Patrick back before their deadline runs out, with they hanging onto his back as he turns into a human speedboat, while they are forced to fight with Dennis around Hasselhoff’s legs and ankles, before Hasselhoff arrives back at Bikini Bottom and sends the two of them back down to the sea floor via a rocket fired from his squeezed-together pectorals.
This was followed by a further theatrically released film The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (2015) and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run (2020).