WAKE N BAKE
in which Erin informs you of the best movies to blaze to
Yes. We’re doing The SpongeBob movie. It’s happening. I don’t want to hear any bitching. So saddle up, and tally ho, and other awkward things I say when I don’t know how to start a review.
SpongeBob SquarePants (the series) popped up as a breath of fresh air on Nickelodeon in 1999, right around when the network’s original programming quality was really circling the drain. (Invader Zim, which premiered two years later, would be the swan song.) Wacky kids’ programming turns out best when it’s got multiple levels of humor going on, and SpongeBob remains a respectable example of such a series. For instance, there’s moments like this:
And then there’s this:
These types of kids’ shows are still funny to us adults, because we’re able to glimpse and appreciate the creators’ sense of humor through jokes like these. This gives them greater appeal and longevity than shows created by people who said, “You know what children would like? A boy and his talking dog!” (Note to creators: stop pretending that kids’ sauce is as weak as yours.)
So I knew that The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie would be a killer blazefest. And I was right. (If you disagree, or if you don’t like SpongeBob, or don’t like weed, you are wrong.)
The film opens with our absorbent, naïve, and improbably content hero on his way to work as a frycook at The Krusty Krab, an undersea fast food joint.
SpongeBob (the inimitable Tom Kenny) is especially ebullient today, however. He’s confident that he’s about to receive a promotion to manager for The Krusty Krab’s new location. This doesn’t pan out, however. Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown!) promotes Squidward (Rodger Bumpass) instead, seeing as he’s an adult and probably boring enough to accurately keep books. Meanwhile, The Krusty Krab’s secret Krabby Patty recipe is once again under siege by Plankton (Mr. Lawrence), a small cycloptic villain with a Napoleonic complex and a computer wife (Jill Talley). He hatches a plan to steal the recipe—a plan that, for some reason, involves stealing King Neptune’s (Jeffrey Tambor) crown. King of the Sea. A king that has never been present in the series until this, its first feature-length film. This new character is a little hacky and inauthentic, lacking in typical SpongeBob quirkiness, but he’s got some funny moments, what with his ridiculous temper and baldness denial. The problem is that he’s got a daughter, Princess Mindy (inexplicably voiced by ScarJo.) Princess Mindy sucks. Princess Mindy is the talking dog I was telling you about earlier. (She’s actually some sort of weird fish thing, but you know what I mean.) A scene between Spongebob and his friend Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke) will be getting along just fine, with crazy faces and good jokes, and then Mindy shows up and it’s like…
She’s always barging in to tell us The Moral of the Story, saying things like, “Daddy! Where’s your love and compassion?” or “I know you can do it! You just have to believe!” Fine messages, to be sure, but not when you feel the need to spell them out with a bland character created expressly for the purpose of plot advancement.
Especially when you consider that the plot doesn’t matter. Seriously. It’s about as meaningful here as it is in the show Perfect Hair Forever. Not that the SpongeBob plot is nonsensical, but it’s just not relevant to an enjoyable bake sesh. The viewer gets everything ze needs from the passing details and the drawings.
When I say “the drawings,” I have specific moments in mind. I call them “art-faces,” and they pop up occasionally in the series as well as the movie. They are frames of characters whose faces have suddenly deviated from the cartoon’s general style into small-faced, gap-toothed, Kricfalusian absurdity. The degrees of this deviation vary wildly from case to case, and while they are among the most lived-for moments in Spongebob history, they’re even more bewilderingly funny when you’re high.
The happenings also leave you to ponder the strange physics of Bikini Bottom. How, exactly, do underwater creatures manage to fall off cliffs and drink out of glasses?
And then there’s the escape sequence, which is a live-action/animation hybrid. The final villain (and a fortunately-timed rescuer) are funnier than any of the additional non-series characters because they do what the creators do best—bizarre, tongue-in-cheek, random shit. This section is surprisingly Adult Swimmy… there’s even a touch of Cabin Boy in there. (Which gives me an idea for a future Wake n Bake.)
This is usually the part where I say that the movie’s got more to it than laughs. And The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie does deal with themes of maturity, and wanting to be taken seriously as an adult when you’re a kid at heart. But honestly, they couldn’t mean less to me. Those “lessons” at which the protagonists half-heartedly swat are only there for formula’s sake. Life’s Questions are not resolved in any meaningful way, which is just as well, because I’m pretty sure that anyone seeing the film, stoned or not, has already forgotten about them.
Oh, and even the credits go well with herbs. They’re filtered close-up shots of rolling waves with songs by The Flaming Lips and Wilco. Bonus.