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LOTS OF SILLINESS UNDER THE SEA

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?

Who, indeed! Well, in case you've been living under a rock for the past six years, SpongeBob SquarePants is the pineapple abode's inhabitant, and he has made his way from TV to the movie screen.

SpongeBob, love him or hate him, is a ridiculously silly but hardworking sponge who lives in Bikini Bottom (an underwater town). His best friend is the dim-witted Patrick Star, who joins him in jelly-fishing, blowing bubbles and inadvertently torturing Squidward (the hateful neighbor/co-worker).

SpongeBob works as a fry cook at the Krusty Krab under the money-grubbing Mr. Krabs, and Plankton, a fun-size evil genius with the thirst for success, is always trying to steal the secret recipe for the delicious Krabby Patty.

The movie -- aptly titled "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie" -- is like one long SpongeBob episode. As usual, conflicts and resolutions appear completely out of the blue, and the entire story is strung along by coincidences and anything ridiculous or bizarre. The movie begins with an exceptionally excited SpongeBob, who thinks he is going to be made manager of the Krusty Krab 2. However, Mr. Krabs gives the job to Squidward because SpongeBob is "just a kid."

Meanwhile, Plankton has launched an evil plan to steal the Krabby Patty recipe by framing Mr. Krabs for the theft of King Neptune's crown. In an effort to save Mr. Krabs, SpongeBob, accompanied by Patrick, sets out to Shell City to find the crown. The road to Shell City is a rough one, though -- and since SpongeBob is "just a kid," can he make it in just six days?

To the more mature viewer, who appreciates the quirkiness, genius, and even genuine hilarity of the show, the movie was a disappointment. One would hope that the movie would pull out all the stops, be chock full of laughs and the most bizarre situations imaginable. While it does achieve the latter -- there is no lack of silliness or strangeness in this movie -- there are about as many laughs in the entire 90 minutes as there are in a typical 10 minute episode. As you can imagine, this makes for some decidedly tedious moments. A lot, in fact.

More appearance from other characters would probably have improved the movie. The crazy, over-exaggerated underwater friends are what usually make the show so great; they give the silliness some variety instead of being all SpongeBob all the time. Also, many of the adult undertones -- nothing inappropriate, just jokes that are over kids' heads -- were, unfortunately, absent from the film.

On the flip side, an extra-large helping of crazy, high-energy music sequences provide a lot of fun, as does the introduction of humans into the film. David Hasselhoff escorts SpongeBob and Patrick back to Bikini Bottom, and pirates watch the movie with us (they even cry hysterically when SpongeBob appears to have dehydrated into a common household sponge).

Whatever the details, SpongeBob has by no means lost his flair for the silly -- nor his innocence. To the kids who the movie is primarily geared towards, the movie should be a hit. The silliness they see in the TV SpongeBob is definitely matched by the silliness of the movie. For the kids, that's all you need.

SpongeBob is the type of show you either love or hate. The movie is not likely to change this -- but it will just make you appreciate the beauty of a snappy 10 minutes of SpongeBob's antics. For younger kids, 90 minutes means nine times the fun. For us? It's just too much.

Emily Sullivan is a senior at City Honors.

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie

* * 1/2 (out of four)

Rated PG