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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Movie Review: The SpongeBob Movie – Sponge Out of Water

First appeared on Blogcritics.

sponge 2 It has been eleven years since our stalwart hero, the titular SpongeBob, appeared in a full-length film. That vehicle – The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie – was memorable for throwing our intrepid fry cook and his friend Patrick (voiced by Bill Fagerbakke) into a quest for Neptune’s crown in order to save Mr. Krabs's life. This film included an  hilarious encounter with a scene stealing David Hasselhoff in full Baywatch lifeguard mode.


In this second go around, the Hoff seems to have been otherwise engaged; therefore, a scenery chewing Antonio Banderas has come aboard as Burger Beard, an evil pirate who has the audacity to steal the Krabby Patty formula. SpongeBob (once again the voice of Tom Kenny) is then off on another quest, but this time he has Mr. Krabs’s (Clancy Brown) arch enemy Plankton (Mr. Lawrence) along for the ride to help him defeat the big bad pirate.

sponge 3I could have waited for this to come to Blu-Ray, but my six-year-old had to see it as soon as possible, and I must admit experiencing it in 3D is more rewarding; it also gave him an opportunity to laugh along with all the other kids in the packed theatre at every one of the usual punchlines and expected jokes to come from characters we now know so very well.

As directed by Paul Tibbit and written by series creator Stephen Hillenburg (and several other writers), The SpongeBob Movie – Sponge Out of Water does well all the things that the series does, which means it is sure to please the target audience. We have come to know that SpongeBob will persevere against all odds, and this time he will even convince the always evil Plankton to help him get back the formula (that Plankton is always trying to steal for himself).

If you don’t know SpongeBob and the many characters in his universe, then this may not be for you; however, if you have children who know every salient detail about the series and need to see this film, you won’t be disappointed in taking them. It is certainly easier to watch than some movies that are up for Oscars (like Birdman and Imitation Game). I am not saying that it is a better film than those nominated ones, but rather that it was a less excruciating experience for me (meaning I was not checking my watch every few minutes).

sponge1One issue I do have with this film is using live actors with cartoon characters. Now, I know this has been done before (thinking of Mary Poppins and many others), but there seems to be a breaking of some kind of rule that I cannot locate in the filmmaking handbook. The problem is that based on the TV series, we know that Hillenburg features the human “mouth” of the captain who sings the theme song at the start of every episode. There have also been frequent episodes where Patchy the Pirate (Tom Kenny) has made an appearance as President of the SpongeBob Fan Club. Hillenburg probably deserves a pass for continuing with this tradition, and Banderas is hilarious in his scenes.

sponge 4There isn’t much else to complain about regarding The SpongeBob Movie – Sponge Out of Water, unless we want to talk about the superhero incarnations of Plankton, Krabs, Squidward, Patrick, and SpongeBob that are now available as toys that are continually advertised on TV. It is clever marketing to be sure, and I suppose I should be honest and tell you that I have already added these new items to my son’s ever expanding Bikini Bottom collection.

The truth is that The SpongeBob Movie – Sponge Out of Water is an entertaining family film going experience that kids will enjoy and you won’t hate. After seeing this film it’s not hard to understand why SpongeBob remains the most incredibly popular yellow, absorbent, and porous cartoon character around.

 Photo credits: spongebobwikia.com, imdb.com, usatoday.com

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