Are ya ready, kids? Your favorite animated sponge has reached another milestone with his second theatrical release. Can you believe it, kids?
What can you say about SpongeBob? He made history invading the mainstream back in the ‘90s, becoming a cultural phenomenon, and continues going stronger than ever today with his new movie. Like it or not, he has a presence that has stood the test of time and will continue to do so for years to come. Inarguably, it’s been a landmark series for Nickelodeon. What brings people back to these cartoons is the witty adult humor and inane dialogue, which are especially prominent in the episodes created before the first movie. Knowing this, Sponge Out of Water is practically fan service to those who have been watching since the beginning.
Not surprisingly, this new installment is not a direct sequel to the 2004 original movie, so don’t expect to see SpongeBob managing the second Krusty Krab—it’s not even there. Yes, in the strange world of Bikini Bottom, continuity only runs so deep. It practically only existed in the early episodes to establish main characters like Squidward and the main premise, but there has been scarce plot development over the course of the series. In fairness, it’s never really needed to do so because it’s zany enough to make up its own rules and logic that vary drastically from episode to episode, which rarely, if ever, interweave with one another. And you know what? It’s completely self-aware of that fact and this movie constantly keeps proving it as you sit there just accepting what’s going on.
So what’s the story this time? Well, it’s pretty much nothing you haven’t heard before if you know the show. Plankton’s after the Krabby Patty secret formula…again… and attempts to steal it…again. That rehashed plot would have been my only gripe with the movie, but that’s not until I saw what they did with it. Through a set of bizarre circumstances (and any definition of weird will not do this movie justice, by the by), SpongeBob must team up with Plankton in order to save Bikini Bottom from its apocalyptic state. Under the sea, no Krabby Patties = mass hysteria—go figure. The film has the duo traveling through time, traveling to the surface, and battling Burgerbeard, played by Antonio Banderas, who also wants the formula for his own restaurant. The other mainstays are present for the adventure, too, but they seem downplayed until the end of the film, unfortunately.
What is especially important to remember is that what you are watching a cartoon. Not that that’ll be hard to remember given the talking sponge, but, in this movie especially, if things don’t make sense, which they won’t close to all the time, you have to take it as it comes and laugh along –even if it comes in the form of a galactic dolphin with god-like powers that watches the universe. If you can’t do that, I can’t recommend this film to you serious cads. The tone is light-hearted, goofy, totally tongue-in-cheek, and, if I may, an experience all its own.
If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ll notice that the animation in the live-action scenes is CG and realistic. Don’t let that ward you off, traditionalists of 2D—it’s a lot of fun to look at and only lasts for so long. But FORGET that ridiculous argument, I would be REMISS if I didn’t mention how psychedelic some of the scenes are. The time traveling scenes are wonderful highlights with kaleidoscope-like hallucinogenic images accompanied by a catchy song by N.E.R.D. that make the viewers feel like they’re tripping out. It’s so beautiful and crazy that you can’t help but sit there, dazed, confused, and giggling. Moments like that are scattered throughout and have you asking yourself, “What the hell am I watching?!” Not to worry, though. Ironically, they are the best parts of the movie that are meant to be embraced and enjoyed no matter how eccentric they seem. Admittedly though, I was scratching my head at the end wondering how most of that made it into the final product with the writers in mind.
So is it any good? It’s a resounding yes from me, but then again, I’m a fairly avid fan. It’s definitely not for everyone, so if you’re a newcomer or unfortunate parent, the movie will serve as a very odd introduction to the show. As for you older fans, even if you haven’t seen SpongeBob in a while and can still appreciate the old classics, like “Wormy” and “Bubblestand,” then this is for you. Consider this an invitation to revisit the show once again. The humor is smart and spot-on and feels like a refreshing throwback to how it originally was: subliminal and hilarious (look for the Easter eggs and cameos!) Like I said, it’s clear that this movie was made for the fans that are able to truly appreciate SpongeBob Squarepants for what it is. That’s not to say kids can’t have fun with it, too. It’s just that they won’t understand nearly as much as the adult audience will because most of the material isn’t geared towards them. How’s this for an explanation? They will see craziness but the adult audience will see craziness that makes sense and doesn’t at the same time. But even that doesn’t really matter, because by the end everybody is so confused to the point of not caring how weird it is and just in awe at the mere simplicity and humor of its chaotic world. So if nautical nonsense be something you wish, Sponge Out of Water delivers.
—Remember: that is a rating coming from a SpongeBob veteran. A general critic’s perspective coupled with their unfamiliarity with the source material, insensitivity to feel any engagement with talking, animated, sea-dwelling characters, and inability to value an atypical children’s movie, would likely rate it far lower. For those willing to give it a watch, remember to use your ♪ imaginations!