The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water Review

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The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water ReviewRating: 4 out of 10

Cast:

Antonio Banderas as Burger-Beard
Tom Kenny as SpongeBob SquarePants / Gary the Snail (voice)
Clancy Brown as Mr. Krabs (voice)
Bill Fagerbakke as Patrick Star (voice)
Rodger Bumpass as Squidward Tentacles (voice)
Carolyn Lawrence as Sandy Cheeks (voice)
Mr. Lawrence as Plankton (voice)

Directed by Paul Tibbitt

Summary:

While nice 3-D animation and an energetic Antonio Banderas breathe some life into this film, “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” lacks a coherent story and any laughs for adults. This one is only for kids 10 and under.

Story:

This movie is based on the TV series “SpongeBob SquarePants,” which started in 1999.

In the underwater town of Bikini Bottom, Plankton is up to his old tricks yet again. He has undertaken his latest attempt to steal Mr. Krabs’ formula for the legendary Krabby Patty. However, just as he’s about to successfully get it, the recipe mysteriously disappears. And without the Krabby Patty, Bikini Bottom descends into a leather-clad post-apocalyptic nightmare.

As the only people left with any form of reason, Plankton and SpongeBob team up to try and retrieve the formula. Their journey takes them across space and time as they face off against new foes and friends who have gone mad without their Krabby Patties. But can SpongeBob really trust Plankton?

“The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” is rated PG for mild action and rude humor.

What Worked:

My kids have grown up with SpongeBob SquarePants. It has been on the air their whole lives and was on our TV for many, many years. But I had noticed that they hadn’t watched it lately and had moved on to more Cartoon Network shows like “Adventure Time,” “The Amazing World of Gumball,” and “Teen Titans.” When I asked why, they said that it hadn’t had any new shows on in years and they were sick of re-runs. So when this movie came along, my younger kids were interested in checking it out and returning to Bikini Bottom.

One of the most noteworthy things about “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” is the fact that it’s in 3D. Even though I’ve seen the cartoons for over 15 years, the 3D gave the animation a fresh new feel. For anyone that grew up in the ’70s or ’80s, watching the film feels like seeing it in a Viewmaster. The 2D animation is transformed, given depth, and is a bit more engaging. Towards the end of the film, the characters change into 3D CG animated characters on land and that also gives it a new burst of energy. It’s a new form for the characters and it’s fun to see them portrayed with modern animation techniques much like with the Smurfs.

While the animated characters are fun, the live-action characters are equally entertaining. Antonio Banderas appears as Burger-Beard, the pirate that sets the events of the film in motion. Banderas throws everything he’s got into the role. He includes equal parts Jack Sparrow, Zorro, and Patchy the Pirate and the end result is fun. Banderas looks like he’s having a blast and that energy rubs off on the audience.

The music is also kind of fun with the notably trippy “Squeeze Me” by N.E.R.D. accompanying the time travel sequences and end credits. If you listen carefully, you can hear little samples of the SpongeBob theme in it, and it’s a nice touch. It’s one of the few things you might actually remember about this movie as you leave the theater.

What Didn’t Work:

While “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” does have some fun moments, the script is so weak that it’s painful to watch. It really feels like four short stories were spliced together into a barely coherent movie script. The film opens with the battle between Krabs and Plankton, moves on to the Mad Max parody of Bikini Bottom mid-apocalypse, transitions to a bizarre time travel sequence, then ends with them all going onto the land to fight an Avengers-style superhero battle. SpongeBob is supposed to be weird and random, but this feels rather lazily put together especially when compared to the brilliant scripts they had back in 1999 and 2000. The frustrating thing is that they could have fixed it with relatively minor tweaks to the script. The end result is a movie really only funny to young children.

Most of the advertising is rather misleading as well. Almost every movie trailer and TV commercial shows the 3D CG characters exclusively, so you think the entire movie is in this format. That’s not the case. Only the last 15 or 20 minutes of the movie features the CG animation. Even my youngest son commented on this as we left the theater. It almost feels like the footage was created for a 3D ride at Universal Studios, but that’s not the case.

I have to admit that though I went into this film with an open mind, I quickly found myself counting down the minutes until this was over. Most family films these days try and leave a little something for the adults in the crowd, but this movie only caters to the very youngest SpongeBob fans.

The Bottom Line:

I took two boys who grew up on SpongeBob SquarePants to this movie, and they are now 13 and 10. The 13-year-old did not like it at all while the 10-year-old enjoyed it. I have to side with the 13-year-old on this one. But if you do feel compelled to see it, see it in 3D.