Mini Movie Reviews: Good Night, and Good Luck and The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie

Good Night, and Good Luck (Widescreen DVD) @ Amazon.comGood Night, and Good Luck (2005)

Starring David Strathairn, George Clooney, Patricia Clarkson, Frank Langella, Jeff Daniels, Robert Downey Jr., Tate Donovan and Dr. Alec Holland.

Directed by George Clooney.

Good Night, and Good Luck is another one of those movies that I meant to see in the theater and was almost surprised to find on the shelves at Blockbuster. That shouldn’t be construed as commentary on the quality of the film, but rather on how quickly time seems to be passing for me lately.

For a movie that is so dialog-driven, Good Night, and Good Luck moves along with surprising speed. Though the story takes place over a couple of months, the conflict between Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) and Senator Joseph McCarthy seems to escalate very quickly, and there’s always a sense of urgency when Murrow, Fred Friendly (George Clooney) and company are putting together one of their segments.

The pacing makes for a short film, too; Good Night, and Good Luck clocks in at about 97 minutes, not counting the end credits. Despite the abbreviated length, there’s a lot packed into the movie, including a sub-plot involving Joe and Shirley Wershba’s (Robert Downey Jr. and Patricia Clarkson) illicit marriage and another showing the effect that McCarthy’s witch-hunt had on news anchor Don Hollenbeck (Ray Wise).

Good Night, and Good Luck is a compelling look back at a time when government officials were reaching beyond the limits of their power to ferret out alleged enemies of the state, and when citizens who voiced concern over the situation were often declared to be in league with those enemies. It’s a sharp, well-performed piece that resonates very strongly today, and anyone who disagrees is clearly a Communist.

The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie

The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie (2004)

Starring Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Roger Bumpass, Mr. Lawrence, Carolyn Lawrence, Scarlett Johansson, Jeffrey Tambor, Alec Baldwin, David Hasselhoff, Jill Talley, Mary Jo Catlett, Kristopher Logan and The Kurgan.

Directed by Stephen Hillenburg.

If you’re asking yourself why in the name of all things absorbent, porous and yellow I would rent and watch The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie, the answer is simple: David Hasselhoff.

Okay that’s not entirely true. The real reason is that Chris Miller gave me a homework assignment. “Go,” he said. “Find something that one might not normally consider mythic, and make it so.”

I’m paraphrasing, but that was pretty much the gist of it. Mick Bradley, Chris Miller, Rae Lamond and myself were supposed to — for once in our lives — stop thinking about the works of Joss Whedon, J.R.R. Tolkien and George Lucas and search for mythic elements elsewhere. On Wednesday, we’ll all (well, all but Mick, who has unfortunately had to bow out) get together, present our findings, and engage in a lively and informative discussion which will become episode 23 (or 2.3) of The Round Table. Enough about that for the time being; back to SpongeBob.

I thoroughly enjoy SpongeBob Squarepants in general, and the movie was no exception. For some reason (probably the same reason I like Ren & Stimpy) I find the goofy, childish humor really appealing. This should not come as a surprise to anyone who has spent more than five minutes in a room with me.

The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie has the same goofy spirit of the television show, but adds David Hasselhoff. Really, whatever else could be said about making SpongeBob bigger and better for a theatrical release, it all comes down to Hasselhoff. If you don’t believe me, consider this: the filmmakers built a thirteen-foot, seven hundred pound Hasselhoff replica to use when filming some scenes where it simply wasn’t possible to include too much Hasselhoff.

That’s putting a lot of stock in Hasselhoff, and what I’m about to say next may seem like sacrilege given what I’ve just asserted. See, the most amazing, life-altering aspect of The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie for me wasn’t Hasselhoff (I promise that will be the last time I use his name in this review), it was Eugene Krabs or—as SpongeBob calls him—Mister Krabs. How is this possible? Well, until the end credits rolled, I didn’t realize that Mister Krabs is voiced by none other than Clancy Brown. I was stunned that I hadn’t recognized his voice, and shocked to hear Mister Krabs’ words coming out of Clancy Brown’s mouth.

I recognized Alec Baldwin as Dennis and Jeffrey Tambor as King Neptune almost immediately, and though I couldn’t place Scarlett Johannson as Princess Mindy I wasn’t terribly surprised to see her name in the credits. Of course, I pegged Bill Fagerbakke as Patrick the very first time I heard his voice on Nickelodeon. But Clancy Brown… how could I have missed that? I mean, come on, I recognized William Fichtner as the unseen marriage counselor in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, didn’t I? What the hell is wrong with me?

Anyway, it’s a fun movie. And Clancy Brown is in it. If you’ll excuse me, I’m pretty sure I have to turn in my credentials until the board can review my case and determine whether or not I should be allowed to continue calling myself a geek.