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REVIEW: The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie

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As The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie flickered to life on the screen the beeping of Gameboys suddenly ceased and was replaced by pre-pubescent squeals of "Here it comes!" I hadn’t been in a room with so many kids since, well, I was one. Let’s face it, there are only two reasons for an adult to go see a children’s cartoon. Either you’re taking children to see it or you’re hoping to discover the next great stoner masterpiece. And while The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie is a funny, playful flick with a few clever jokes that will appeal to grown-ups, mostly it’s kid’s stuff.

    We find SpongeBob in his pineapple under the sea in Bikini Bottom, awaiting a promotion to manager of the Krusty Krab restaurant. His boss Mr. Krabs gives the promotion to SpongeBob’s cranky neighbor, Squidward, on the grounds that SpongeBob is "just a kid." Meanwhile, Mr. Krabs’ archrival Plankton has come up with a devious plan for world domination, cleverly titled "Plan Z." He steals King Neptune’s crown and frames Mr. Krabs for the theft, steals the recipe for Krabby Patties and enslaves the citizens of Bikini Bottom by giving away free "Chum Bucket" hats that are actually mind-control devices.

    With the help of his friend Patrick and Princess Mindy, SpongeBob
sets off in the Patty Wagon ("You don’t need a license to drive a sandwich")
for Shell City to recover the crown, return it to the king and save Mr. Krabs.
And of course, along the way they learn some valuable lessons: kids can do lots
of important things just like grown-ups; you should believe in yourself.
Those past puberty will appreciate SpongeBob
freeing the citizens of Bikini Bottom from their Chum Bucket Mind Control Helmets
to Twisted Sister’s "I
Want to Rock," but that’s about as subversive as this
family film gets. So, stoners: stick with Fantasia.—  Andy
Horwitz

Date DVD #7: Elf and The Office Special
Holiday
movies are almost always terrible date movies — especially
when they’re as bad as this year’s crop: Surviving Christmas,
Noel,
and Polar Express are all so wretched you’d
be better off renting a fun Good Friday movie, like, say, The
Passion of the Christ
. But in a season that’s also been
plagued by disappointing comedies — Bridget Jones, in
a Thai prison! — Jon Favreau’s ridiculous holiday film Elf is
a relief. Gleefully stupid and slap-sticky, with a ludicrous
performance by Will Ferrell and a sweetheart turn by Zooey
Deschanel, the story of a goofy human raised by elves is ridiculous enough to watch again.
And the DVD gets an extras package just as shamelessly fun as the film: strange
little documentaries on holiday obsessives, commentary by Ferrell
and Jon Favreau and ridiculous games that you play with your
remote control, like "Elf in the City" and "Elf
Karaoke" — which, with a little work, could make
a nice eggnog drinking game.

   

Or, if the double whammy of audience interaction and holiday
schmaltz is too much for your date, you may have more success
with The Office Special, the
follow-up to Ricky Gervais’s brilliant BBC mockumentary series
about cubicle life in Slough. Some fans have complained that
this segment — which catches up with the officemates
three years after the series ended and concludes at the office’s
holiday party — was too uplifting a coda for Gervais’s
bleak vision. But it’s undoubtedly the most romantic episode
of the series, both for David Brent and for poor Tim and Dawn,
so, date-wise, this is a very good thing. It takes the classic
holiday fears — loneliness, family, the coming new year — and
cuts through them with some jagged sense of hope. And while The
Office Special
doesn’t include karaoke, it does pack in
a hysterical Simply-Red-style music video, starring Gervais’s
David Brent in all his unbuttoned, linen-panted glory, seducing
a rail-thin and impossibly tall model with red roses, champagne,
and a painfully earnest version of "If You Don’t Know
Me By Now." After that, any move you make will look smooth. — Logan
Hill

 



 
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