The sponge is back, more visually and aesthetically stunning than ever. Fifteen years into the game and these aquatic creatures are still alluring in the most dynamic ways possible. “Spongebob Squarepants: Sponge out of Water” is an extremely fun and comical journey through Bikini Bottom that brings plenty of old faces and creatures back into the fray, which will no doubt leave children and adults alike with a goofy grin on their faces. Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of the series, having taken a hiatus from the show after season three, is back to help write the film and give his creative brilliance a chance to shine again. The payoff mostly works and makes viewers wonder why he left the series in the first place. It’s blatantly clear that Hillenburg knows what he’s doing when Spongebob is involved.
“Spongebob Squarepants: Sponge out of Water” has a premise that many will find nostalgic as it begins with a typical afternoon at the staple Krusty Krab, home of the delicious Krabby Patty. Plankton, the archnemesis of the Krusty Krab, decides to stage an elaborate attack on the restaurant to finally seize the secret recipe of the Krabby Patty. His plan is thwarted by the valiant forces of Spongebob and Mr. Krabs after a comedic battle of condiments. Plankton, however, tricks the Krusty crew, but ultimately ends up botching the plan as the secret recipe miraculously vanishes into thin air after a tug-of-war with Spongebob. Soon after, Bikini Bottom descends into a post-apocalyptic zone of terror because of the deprivation of everyone’s favorite snack. It becomes Spongebob and Plankton’s mission — who happen to be cast as the primary suspects for its disappearance — to come up with a reliable team to get the formula back.
Unlike its predecessor, this film does a better job at capturing the aesthetics of the actual show. The issue plaguing the last film was the linear narrative not having those spastic and sporadic moments that people have come to know and love the show for. This movie has it all: Everything from fart jokes to pop culture jokes are thrown into the midst of the chaos. These random inclusions would normally make a film feel jarring structurally, but it works for a series like Spongebob that thrives on random gags and motifs.
The voice acting in this film is stellar. All of the original cast return from the show to voice the characters. Tom Kenny and Doug Lawrence, who voice Spongebob and Plankton, respectively, have electrifying chemistry together and their relationship forged throughout the movie is palpable. From their doo-wopping to their high-pitched yelps of terror, these two veterans are masters of their craft and it shows. Kenny has a strange way of making Spongebob’s voice oddly appealing even despite the constant shrieks and laughter. Lawrence summons all the bass in his chords to deliver a surprising performance for Plankton where he actually shows some character development and has to speak in various uplifting tones.
While the movie’s soundtrack is less than remarkable, it’s important to note that the songs they do sing for the film are incredibly catchy and will definitely get plenty of airplay from children who crave infectious rhyming with doo-wops and imagery. The rap segments toward the end of the film are hilarious and give Spongebob a flare it does not regularly have. Combining pop culture references like this makes this film more multifaceted and prevents it from being strictly for kids.
The main issue permeating the movie’s 90-minute run is the fact that none of it feels conclusive. After the story ends, you know that the character development gained throughout the movie won’t translate onto the actual show, which makes the decisions made in the movie hold less gravity. Being in a separate canon from the actual show leaves a disconnect amongst what is real. The 3-D segments are also only featured for the last 20 minutes of the film, despite the television ads attempting to display almost all of the scenes in 3-D. A good marketing ploy only led to disappointment, as I expected at least half the film to take on that multi-dimensional feel. The 2-D was excellently animated and showed fine quality but wasn’t anything vastly different from the show. The 3-D just felt tacked on to glorify a climactic battle sequence at the end of the movie, but it was welcome nonetheless.
Both the character and series “Spongebob Squarepants” are starting to show their age. But that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t get a few more seasons and movies of actual quality. After giving audiences a source of laughter and excitement for over a decade, he needs to be treasured. This film does that. It takes our heroic sponge and puts him into a grandiose story that will leave those entertained the whole duration of the film. Rest assured that this film won’t only get a rise out of children as plenty of adults, even an older teenager like me, chuckled throughout the movie. Fart jokes, pop culture, random madness and squareness get mixed together for a great recipe.
Rating: 3.5 stars