A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this DVD is a compilation of a half-hour special called The Great Patty Caper and six 15-minute episodes of Nickelodeon's highest-rated show. For parents unfamiliar with the series, this isn't edutainment like Dora or Sesame Street; it's just all-out humor that occasionally borders on the absurd. A couple of characters, like Plankton, are perpetually in trouble or injured in silly ways -- but nothing can keep them down. SpongeBob's motto is "I'm ready!" and he's the most hardworking, generous, loving little yellow fella you'll see on television.
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What's the story?
SpongeBob SquarePants (voiced by Tom Kenny) and his burger-joint employer, Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown), discover that they're out of preformed patties and get the secret formula out of its safe to make new ones. Plankton, as always, tries to grab the recipe, so Mr. Krabs has it taken far, far away to the bank's safety deposit box. Unfortunately, neither Mr. Krabs nor SpongeBob actually looks at the secret formula before it's sent away, so SpongeBob and his trusty sidekick, Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke), set off with the bank key to recover the recipe -- with Plankton hot on their tail. On a climactic train ride, SpongeBob and Patrick must evade Plankton and a host of disguised criminals to get to the secret formula before the Krusty Krab is forced to close its doors. The additional episodes are varied, but they all center around food or the Krusty Krab.
Is it any good?
Fans will get their fill of SpongeBob mayhem and enjoy the underwater hijinks. This DVD is a good mix of episodes featuring some favorite food- and kitchen-related storylines. Whether it's Plankton chasing after the Krabby Patty formula, Mr. Krabs stealing food to feed his growing daughter Pearl (a sperm whale), or SpongeBob attempting a career as a kitchen-sponge model, this animated series is hilarious, with humor that ranges from preschool-friendly sight gags to grown-up-friendly references (like the Agatha Christie allusions in the Patty Caper special).
But if you think SpongeBob, Patrick, and company are everything that's wrong with children's entertainment, it's doubtful that this DVD will change your mind. There's still no hidden educational purpose to the series, but it does expose kids to plot structure, character development, predictability, and the various ways that humor is used in a story. Characters often speak sarcastically and act rudely to each other -- and, unlike in real life, no one seems bothered by the mean-spirited things that are said. What's more, situations are often resolved with violence, and the frequent songs sometimes touch on iffy subject matter like bombs and making fun of people. SpongeBob is a classic animated icon, and there's a reason for his cult-like following among everyone from toddlers to college students to adults who don't have kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes SpongeBob and his friends funny. Is the silliness all harmless fun, or are there some negative messages here?
How are SpongeBob and Patrick ageless? In what ways do they act like kids?
Patrick isn't the smartest starfish in the sea, but SpongeBob is always patient with and kind to him. What does that teach us about how to treat our friends?
Why is SpongeBob so popular with both adults and kids?