The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water
Enjoyable, all-ages nautical nonsense.
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? SpongeBob SquarePants. Who stars in a movie that’s as much fun for the young-at-heart as it is for the young-in-years? And perhaps even more so? SpongeBob SquarePants.
Yes, that absorbent, yellow and porous fellow is back for his second big-screen outing, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. And yes, it really is entertainment for all ages.
Here, the titular Bikini Bottom dweller and fast food fry cook (voiced by Tom Kenny) faces a familiar situation oft-seen in the TV series: stopping villainous rival restaurant owner, the pint-sized Plankton (Doug Lawrence), from stealing the secret formula behind the Krusty Krab's krabby patties everyone can't get enough of. Alas, more sinister shenanigans are also afoot thanks to the scheming of pirate Burger Beard (Antonio Banderas), who has his own plans for the recipe, as well as a magical, future-changing book.
In its nine television seasons to date, SpongeBob has always tread that fine line between bright and bizarre, silly and surreal, innocent and absurd, and engaging audiences young and old. The first film based on the series, 2004's The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, did the same; however, the latest feature hoists the happy zaniness up another level. Perhaps it is the pedigree of the folks behind the scenes, sharing stints on Rocko's Modern Life and The Ren & Stimpy Show on their resumes. Perhaps it’s the combination of a big heart, an overwhelming sense of openness and a truly offbeat sense of humour.
Perhaps, in this instance, it's also the inclusion of a rapping, time-travelling dolphin overlord called Bubbles, voiced by Matt Berry from Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, The Mighty Boosh, The IT Crowd and Toast of London. If it sounds so out-there that it just might be hilarious, you'll probably find it in the film, including a town turning apocalyptic in the absence of their favourite snack, a war waged with condiments dressed up as a tribute to Mad Max and a superhero whose special skill manifests in controlling ice cream. Think stoner comedy with no mind-altering substances required.
Expect 3D antics of the most cheerful kind, interweaving joyful slapstick gags — often based around Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke), SpongeBob's starfish best friend — with pop culture references to The Shining and Sergio Leone that are certain to go over kids' heads. And, unlike most similar offerings, such meta musings feel genuine — and genuinely aimed at adults — amid the madcap mania.
Living up to the Sponge Out of Water part of its name later in the game, a foray above ground and into live action doesn't fare anywhere near as well as the animated material, coming off unsurprisingly constrained in contrast to the freewheeling underwater revelry — but that's a minor complaint. For fans, spending more time with SpongeBob is always a treat. For the uninitiated, prepare for a cartoon trip that's the very definition of enjoyable, all-ages nautical nonsense.