This review may be a little biased – I’ve not only written a
book on the history of Spongebob, but I’m one of the series biggest fans. That
said, I’m here to tell you that the new Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water is
a dazzling blast of eye-candy and hilarious fun for all. What more can you
really ask from a cartoon feature?
And “cartoon” is the operative word here. I’ve always felt Spongebob
Squarepants – the TV show and the character – is the connective thread between
the classic Hollywood “rubber-hose” cartoon stars of the 1930s to the present
day CGI puppets that have become the new normal. And this movie proves it, by
combining all kinds of animation techniques and art styles into a very
Spongebob’s popularity has never waned since debuting in
1999, and show has maintained a consistently high level of quality – despite
the hiatus of creator Steve Hillenberg after the release of the previous
theatrical feature in 2004. Hillenberg is now back (on story and as exec
producer) and it shows.
The story, in a nutshell, is essentially a race to return
the secret Krabby Patty formula to
Bikini Bottom before all Hell breaks loose. Technically it already has – Mad
Max style – which leads Spongebob (Tom Kenny) and the essential characters from
the series (Patrick, Mr. Krabs, Squidward, Sandy and yes, Plankton (who practically
steals the show, voiced by Mr. Lawrence)) to team up to confront a zany
pirate-turned-food truck entrepreneur (Antonio Banderas as “Burger Beard”) – who
has stolen the recipe and sets up a hamburger stand on a nearby beach (shot in
Though the movie’s advertising plays up the CGI versions of
the characters, at least half the film takes place under the sea, in
traditional hand drawn character animation that couldn’t be funnier.
Exaggerated cartoon art at its finest – in 3D, and its really cool looking.
What a delight to see a true cartoon on the big screen again.
As for the rest of the story – Spoiler alert: The characters
create a time machine to rewrite history, but somehow end up in the far future
where a Marvel-esque cosmic “Watcher” (a dolphin named “Bubbles”, animated in
stop motion by Screen Novelties) endows them with the ability to breath above
water and become the super heroes you see in the trailers and posters all over
Along the way, there is a rousing musical number about “Team
Work”, and a hilarious visit (by Plankton) into Spongebob’s candy-coated brain
– a place inhabited by ice cream creatures, balloon men and donut damsels. Other highlights include some outstanding time
machine visual effects that are right up there with 2001 (or Interstellar), and
a superhero battle royale that compares favorably to The Avengers.
It’s wacky. It’s crazy. It’s exactly what it should be. Way more than a sequel to the excellent previous feature and light years beyond
an expanded TV episode. Director Paul Tibbitt and live action director Mike
Mitchell set just the right, light tone for the large pre-sold audience of Spongebob
fans and anyone else, never taking itself or the characters too seriously. Should
you see the film in a theater? Hell yeah! It’s for anyone who wants to laugh and
a have great time at the movies. I highly recommend it.