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SpongeBob SquarePants
SpongeBob Goes Prehistoric

review by Zach B.

 

 

Running Time: 110 minutes

Starring the voices of: Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Carolyn Lawrence

 

 

 

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $16.99

Features: Previews. DVD-ROM: PC Game Demo

Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Stereo Surround, English Closed Captions, Episode Selections

Released: March 9th, 2004

 

 

I've gone on before on this very website about animation transending barriers. When people used to think of animation, they merely thought of it as a form of entertianment for children. However, in recent years, people have finally realized that animation is not just for kids and put that to use in various adult animated television series, adult animated movies and more. However, there has always been a select group of animated work that appeals to all audiences. During the 1990s, the empire that is Disney did this with their theatrical feature films be it hand drawn or computer animated (while more CGI films are popping up and raking in the dough from other studios and more adult audiences). More recently, however, television has been debuting and featuring cartoons aimed at both children and adults. Shows such as "Samurai Jack" and a lot of the cartoons made for Cartoon Network have been attracting a wider audience. More recently, however, Nickelodeon's own "SpongeBob SquarePants" has been breaking revolutionary barriers as far as demographics and popularity goes.

"SpongeBob Squarepants" was originally aimed for kids, but for some reason, older audiences have tuned in and can't resist its charm (myself included). The show, which debuted during the summer of 1999 on cable's Nick, has been giving its own "Rugrats" a run for its money and is arguably becoming more popular than their decade-old-plus Nicktoon. "SpongeBob" has only seemed to really gain its popularity in the past year or so. Just like "Rugrats," the show had a stable audience at first, but then blew up into something much more as time went on (a "SpongeBob" flick is due in theaters sometime in 2004). More than a third of its audience is made up of adults, even. But what makes "SpongeBob" so popular? What is so appealing about this very cartoon show? Let me try and find out why...

In case you are not familiar with the premise, "SpongeBob SquarePants" follows the adventures of a walking and talking sponge named SpongeBob SquarePants in the ocean area of Bikini Bottom. SpongeBob works as a cook at the Krusty Krab, has a pet snail named Gary and is always cheerful. Like most whimisical cartoon heroes, SpongeBob has good intentions but his intentions backfire. Of course, the backfires cause the comedy. Be it SpongeBob helping the lonely Plankton whereas Plankton is using him to get the secret Krabby Patty recipie or SpongeBob not realizing that jokes can grow old... fast. SpongeBob's compaions are his dimwitted friend Patrick Star who lives right near him, Texan squirrel Sandy and the easily annoyed Squidward, as well as his boss Mr. Krabs. So, adventures usually revolve around them, though Sandy and Mr. Krabs are more supporting characters and don't pop up as often as Squidward or Patrick.

I guess what appeals to me about "SpongeBob SquarePants" is that it's quite a unique show. I can't think of another show in history that was animated and its main star was a living sponge. The characters are well created and fun to watch, while the setting and idea of this weird, imaginary world on the ocean floor is pretty striking and easy to get into. But I think what kids and adults enjoy is the broad, weird and wacky humor the show features. It's more slapstick and crazy, and never tends to go over the top. Or maybe it's the same appeal that I have about the show being something different, and that it doesn't fail in what it creates and extends. It's just highly imaginative, original and entertaining.

For some reason, kids do identify with SpongeBob. However, SpongeBob is an adult. He lives alone, he works at a job and doesn't go to school or anything. Yet in many ways, he is a kid. He has those good intentions, he is playful and likes fun. He has this kid demeanor that I think younger audiences enjoy. He just acts like one big kid, and that's part of the fun I suppose.

The theme of this "SpongeBob" DVD is nature... okay, not really. But the DVD gets its title from the double-length episode "SpongeBob BC." This is a fun one because it features more crazy and very funny live action segments with Patchy The Pirate (still played by the sponge himself, Tom Kenny). Also included are the episodes "Nature Pants," "Fools In April," "I'm With Stupid," "Patty Hype," "Squid On Strike," "The Great Snail Race," "Plankton's Army" and the very amusing "Squilliam Returns."

 

Yes, as you'd expect... excellent image quality all around for these episodes. Presented in 1.33:1 full screen, the only complaint is the usual one: there's some noise (probably because of how Paramount filters these transfers), but everything else is golden. The colors are bold and have strong depth to them, the image quality has a fine sharpness to it and detail is nothing but solid. And hell, the live action segments look fine with strong fleshtones on Patchy!

 

The English Stereo Surround tracks on the episodes are perfectly fine. Dialogue is crisp and always easy to hear and the show's music provides a fulfilling ambiance in the speakers. But what makes these tracks come alive are - what else? - the sound effects. The bubbling of the ocean, the snail race, sea splashes and the rest of the action found in these batch of cartoons. These sound mixes are contained but still very spiffy. And if you need them, English closed captions are included.

 

Previews... and a PC Game Demo for "SpongeBob SquarePants - Battle For Bikini Bottom" for you DVD-ROM users. I'm not even sure if a demo should count this as an extra since it's more or less an advertising ploy to go out and get the game.

 

Yep, another SpongeBob DVD. Like with every other release, the presentation of the cartoons are great but this time around the extras are incredibly slim. Whether this disc is a purchase or not all depends in how much you like the episodes. Maybe Paramount should start lowering the retail prices on these?