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Paramount Studios presents
SpongeBob Squarepants: Sponge for Hire (2004)

"Patrick, go be stupid somewhere else."
- Squidward (Rodger Bumpass)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: November 03, 2004

Stars: Tom Kenny
Other Stars: Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Carolyn Lawrence
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:38m:54s
Release Date: November 02, 2004
UPC: 097368862340
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B B+B+B C+

DVD Review

He's everywhere these days, running on Nickelodeon incessantly and soon to be the star of a theatrical feature film.

He's the nerdy man/boy SpongeBob Squarepants (voiced by Tom Kenny), a lovable sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea with his pet snail named Gary, who acts like a cat. SpongeBob works as a fry cook at The Krusty Krab, under the eye of Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown), an oversized lobster who talks like a second-rate pirate who literally has dollar signs in his eyes. A well-meaning but just plain dumb starfish named Patrick (voiced by Bill Fagerbakke) and a squirrel (fully outfitted for deep sea diving) from Texas named Sandy Cheeks (voiced by Carolyn Lawrence) are SpongeBob's best friends, and for a comedic foil, Squidward Tentacles (voiced by Rodger Bumpass) is a cranky, sarcastic, clarinet-playing squid who lives next door, in some sort of giant Easter Island head.

Paramount started issuing budget-priced themed discs a couple of years back, consisting of eight to ten episodes from the show's three seasons. All was well with the world for the SpongeBob nation until the complete first season was released, which negated the need for some of the subsequent best of titles, and when the complete second season was issued it made these compilations seem even less necessary. This latest disc contains strictly season three material, and it is as if Paramount has finally realized the marketing corner they have painted themselves, or more specifically fans, into.

Marketing gaffes aside, that's not to say Sponge for Hire is not without its share of laughs. The Krusty Krab Training Video episode, presented as a mock training tape for prospective employees (complete with deep-voiced narrator), will actually probably be funnier to any adult who has ever sat through one of those lame orientation videos than it will be to kids. Likewise with Mid-Life Crustacean, where Mr. Krabs frets about getting old, and the humor will have more bite for older viewers than younger.

The show's writing, even over the course of the sporadic third season, still blends traditional cartoon whimsy for kids, with enough layered gags that appeal to adults. The Camping Episode features one of my favorite recurring show premises, which is another of those where Squidward achieves new levels of aggravation, thanks to SpongeBob, and goes for the cheap laugh angle by including a wacky song and a sea bear attack. New Student Starfish mines some classroom chuckles—including SpongeBob's "life/death" speech—and while I'll admit to cracking up a lot during this one, it is obviously more relatable to the target audience.

Krusty Krab Training Video
Season Three
Original Air Date: 05/10/02

Can You Spare a Dime?
Season Three
Original Air Date: 03/08/02

Missing Identity
Season Three
Original Air Date: 01/19/03

Krabby Land
Season Three
Original Air Date: 04/03/04

Wet Painters
Season Three
Original Air Date: 05/10/02

New Student Starfish
Season Three
Original Air Date: 09/20/03

Mid-Life Crustacean
Season Three
Original Air Date: 01/24/03

The Camping Episode
Season Three
Original Air Date: 04/03/04

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: All episodes are presented in their original full-frame aspect ratio, and as with the previous releases, the caliber of the transfer is really quite good. Black levels are rock solid, and colors are exceptionally bright, with no trace of smearing. Some minor shimmer, but it is hardly an issue.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is provided a very lively sounding 2.0 stereo mix, and this release also includes an optional Spanish language track, as well. Character voices sound full and robust, and musical stingers and sound effects have a noticeably pronounced richness to them.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie, All Grown Up: Lucky 13, SpongeBob Squarepants: The Complete Second Season, Duel Masters, Transformers: Energon
4 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The depth and variation of the supplements has kind of stagnated on these compilation discs, and this one features another set of pre-production animations. Offered up in black-and-white pencil sketch storyboard format with no sound effects, music and only rough voice work, are the episodes Krabby Land, Missing Identity, Wet Painters and New Student Starfish.

In addition to the expected handful of Nickelodeon-themed trailers and some Nick Recipes DVD-ROM content (and the invasive Interactual Player), the disc is cut into eight chapters.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

I'm not sure if this merits a purchase considering Season Three will be released eventually, but based strictly on laugh production, Sponge for Hire works.

Yep, funny stuff indeed.


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