For the uninitiated who find themselves at "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie," which opens Friday, you need to soak in some background on the eternally optimistic little yellow animated sponge.
"SpongeBob SquarePants," which premiered on cable's Nickelodeon in 1999, is the most watched kids' show in TV history -- and a full third of its audience is adults. SpongeBob (voiced by Tom Kenny) lives in a pineapple under the sea in a town called Bikini Bottom. His ever-faithful companion is Gary, who, despite being a snail, meows like a cat. SpongeBob's best friend is Patrick (the voice of Bill Fagerbakke), a dimwitted but loyal, chubby, pink starfish. Their neighbor is Squidward, a grumpy squid who wants peace and quiet in his life.
"The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie" is a coming-of-age buddy road flick with several musical numbers and even live-action pirates thrown in for good measure.
The plot finds the intrepid hero and Patrick venturing out of Bikini Bottom in a motorized sandwich to the dangerous Shell City to recover Neptune's stolen crown and save Mr. Krab from the ruler's wrath.