A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The show intends to entertain rather than to educate.
This show gets its laughs from absurdist humor and extreme characterizations of some of the humans SpongeBob and his friends meet. Bathroom humor includes dire body odor, a potty emergency for Patrick, a bus driver working the steering wheel with his butt, and the like. That said, there are some examples of friendship and going the extra mile for others, especially with regard to the party SpongeBob's friends plan for him.
Positive Role Models
SpongeBob's friends band together to make his birthday a special one. Patrick shows his soft side when he empathizes with fish in a pet store.
Violence & Scariness
Some cartoon-style violence. Sandy pounds party guests with boxing gloves, another character pops out his own eyeball. There's mention of SpongeBob being a masochist .
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Rarely name-calling like "idiot."
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Products & Purchases
This special is part of the long-running TV series.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout is a TV special part of the twelfth season of SpongeBob SquarePants and sees a few of the characters journey above sea level for some wild adventures on dry land. Viewers familiar with SpongeBob's unique brand of entertainment won't be surprised by the bathroom humor (body odor that causes a character to melt into goo, for instance), the often-frenetic pace and loud acoustics of the story, or the absurdist nature of the plot. This special does an exceptional job blending media formats, inserting the animated characters in their mobile aquarium vehicle into the live-action happenings in the human world and showing them interact. While there's not a lot of educational value to be gleaned from this story, it's fun to watch, even for SpongeBob nonfans.
Is It Any Good?
For SpongeBob fans, this birthday bash is an appropriate celebration of twelve seasons of the ocean's most famous angular resident. It's filled with absurdist humor, physical gags, gross-out moments, and quirky characters both under the sea and above ground. The show's mix of animation and live-action, which gets a lot of play during the characters' trip to Surface Land, is what really sells this story. Much hilarity ensues as their water-filled aquarium motors about across the beach (and past David Hasselhoff!), encounters a thirsty dog, gets emptied (and slimed) in a Patrick-induced accident, and nearly goes completely off the rails in the local "fish prison."
SpongeBob remains a fairly hard-lined love-it-or-leave-it TV pick, with fans hopelessly devoted to its creative, if slightly manic, humor, and others just not getting the shtick. SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout is surprisingly successful at bridging that gap -- at least for a short time -- with its unique mixed-media format that gives viewers a laugh-out-loud outsider's view of the human world as they follow the aquarium tour through town. It probably won't sway many SpongeBob nonfans, but it does make for a tolerable pick for watching with your kids if they're in the SpongeBob camp.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.