Once in a blue moon, a movie comes along that is so deep and thematically rich, it changes cinema as a whole. This is not a review of that movie. This is a review of the original Spongebob Movie. The Spongebob movie does not attempt to be that movie. It just tries to be a very good movie, which it succeeds at. This may be surprising to those who haven’t seen it, who believe it to be childish. This is true in some ways, as children can understand and enjoy this movie. But the movie is also more, enjoyable for all ages. While it doesn’t change cinema as a whole, it is definitely still worth watching.
The story of the Spongebob Movie is more than just a vessel for the jokes. The story starts with the restaurant that Spongebob works at, the Krusty Krab, opening in another location. The position of manager for the new restaurant . This position is Spongebob's dream (literally). Spongebob is certain that he will get it, due to his impressive record as an employee. However, he is not promoted because his boss, Mr. Krabs, says that he is "just a kid". Then Mr. Krabs' rival, Plankton, jealous of Krabs' success, steals king Neptune's crown and frames Mr. Krabs, so that he can steal the secret formula to the krabby patty, the Krusty Krab's signature burger. Spongebob volunteers, with his best friend Patrick, a pink starfish, to go to shell city, a place where no one has ever returned from, to get the crown to clear Mr. Krabs’ name. For Spongebob, the search is about a little more. He is trying to prove that he isn’t just a kid, and that he is a man.
Throughout the film, he does things that are similar to what adults do, but not actually, much like kids who want to be grown-ups. In the beginning of the film, after he finds out that he wasn't manager, he goes to the "nut bar" in "Goofy Goober’s Ice Cream Party Boat", a place which is similar to Chuck E Cheese and gets "drunk" on ice cream. Shortly after, as Spongebob and Patrick set off on their journey, they reach the vehicle that they will use. It is a promotional car shaped like a krabby patty, the Krusty Krab's signature burger. When Patrick points out that Spongebob doesn't have a license Spongebob replies, "you don't need a lisence to drive a sandwich". At first glance, this is just a small joke, but it reveals something more. They don't use a car, they use an imitation that kids can use. They don't have a license, so they use a sandwich. They can't drink alcohol, so they eat icecream. They can't go to a bar or nightclub, so they go to Goofy Goobers.
As the story progresses, Spongebob and Patrick slowly come to terms with the fact that they are kids. The movie is less about growth and more about self-discovery. The idea of how the characters view Goofy Goober exemplifies this. Every time Goofy Goober is mentioned, from the party boat to the underwear, the idea of kid vs man is always used; this is especially evident at the end of the movie. While I can't say exactly what happens at the end, I can say that it isn't very subtle and that it is very relevant.
While Spongebob preserves his status of being a kid, he also preserves the culture of his town, Bikini Bottom, which Plankton tries to conquer. Plan Z, the plan to frame Mr. Krabs and steal the secret formula, also had another step, which involves enslaving everyone in the town. Spongebob and Patrick manage to save the entire town from Plankton by themselves. This movie portrays the power of one person in relation to culture. Plankton single-handedly nearly destroys a culture, and Spongebob saves it. This movie is about empowerment, presented by the fact that Spongebob is just one kid, but he manages to save the town.
However, the movie is still childish, in good ways and in bad ways. The symbolism and themes are very obvious, so that children can understand them. Some of the gags are only really funny in children's eyes, such as the fact that there are pirates watching the movie in the movie itself, which adults may see as pointless or stupid. The themes of what it means to be a man and empowerment also resonate much stronger with children, but it is worth noting that adults can relate to these, as they were children once too.
Primarily, the Spongebob Movie is a delightful comedy, but not something to watch for pure story. It’s story is decent, but many other movies do that better. This movie shines by the fact because of a combination of humor, decent narrative, and accessibility. It can make you laugh for a long time after being watched through talking about it and even just remembering some of the jokes. There are only two reasons not to watch this. If one is not familiar with Spongebob the characters, it might be confusing. You only need to be a little bit familiar with the show to enjoy the movie though. The second reason is the worry of what other people may think of you watching something so childish. Solve this problem by not telling anybody. People can’t judge you for something they don’t know about.