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Sponge Out of Water Delivers on Fun, But without Much Depth

  • Susan Ellingburg Contributing Writer
  • 2015 5 Feb
<i>Sponge Out of Water</i> Delivers on Fun, But without Much Depth

DVD Release Date: June 2, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: February 6, 2015
Rating: PG (mild action and rude humor)
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Run Time: 93 minutes
Director: Paul Tibbitt
Cast: Tom Kenny, Antonio Banderas, Bill Fagerbakke

Ten years after The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, the multiple award-winning cartoon is back on the big screen with a new adventure. And this time, the sea isn’t big enough to hold him.

The first hint of trouble comes when we spot a shaggy pirate (Antonio Banderas) landing on a small island. After nabbing a treasure Indiana Jones style, the old salt sets sail to achieve world domination with the secret he’s found. Unfortunately for the residents of Bikini Bottom, that secret is bad news for the Krabby Patty.

For those unfamiliar with the SpongeBob universe, here’s a quick primer: SpongeBob SquarePants (voiced by Tom Kenny) is a…well, he’s a sponge…who lives at the bottom of the ocean in the town of Bikini Bottom. SpongeBob works at the Krusty Krab, a local burger joint that serves the locals a much-loved sandwich known as the Krabby Patty. The recipe is so top-secret that SpongeBob, who makes Krabby Patties every day, is forbidden even to remember it.  

When the recipe goes missing there’s only one logical suspect: Plankton (voiced by Mr. Lawrence), who owns the failing eatery across the street and often launches schemes to steal the secret. Only SpongeBob knows the answer is not that simple. He sets out to put things right, enlisting his starfish buddy Patrick (voiced by Bill Fagerbakke), co-worker Squidward (voiced by Rodger Bumpass), squirrel friend Sandy (voiced by Carolyn Lawrence), boss Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown) and even Plankton to help.

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Remember the pirate? Yeah, he’s the bad guy. It’s not one of Banderas’ best performances, but he doesn’t have a lot to work with. His character could have used more oomph from the script but at least he gets to ham it up with the seagulls, who very nearly steal the show. They act as a sort of Greek chorus, commenting on the action, belting out the ubiquitous SpongeBob theme song, and getting in Burger Beard’s way as often as possible.

The first two thirds or so of the film are quite good. Fast-paced and funny, not even the apocalyptic edge to the story seemed to faze small viewers. Unfortunately, once the characters leave the water and go all Avengers in order to fight a superhero-worthy battle on dry land, it all gets a little ho-hum. Thankfully that section is short, surprisingly so given the amount of screen time it gets in the previews.

I could have done without the appearance of the “protectors of the universe” (aka dolphins), references to making sacrifices to “the sandwich gods” and Squidward’s vainglorious assertion that “I’m a god” but the jokes were for the most part genuinely funny. I did feel the amount of flesh—real, not animated—on display was a little much for a kids’ movie, but to be fair, they were at a beach. The 3D experience was underwhelming; my advice would be to go for 2D and put the difference toward popcorn. The story dances around addiction issues (what is in those Krabby Patties that makes everybody crave them so?) but there’s not much of a moral. This one is just for fun—and for the most part, fun is what it is.

CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers):

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  • Drugs/Alcohol: Krabby Patties, while technically a food, are shown to be highly addictive.
  • Language/Profanity: None noted.
  • Sex/Nudity: As mentioned, a number of (live, not animated) people on the beach are wearing typical beach attire. We see Patrick’s (animated) backside. Squidward accidentally plops down on the glistening back of a (live) bikini-clad beauty.
  • Violent/Frightening/Intense: There’s a slightly creepy skeleton on the pirate’s deserted island, a number of battles (some involving heavy artillery loaded with vegetables), a torture scene (SpongeBob’s laughter is the weapon of choice), and a lot of fighting, but it’s all cartoon-y enough that most children will not be disturbed.
  • Spiritual Themes: The minute the Krabby Patty formula goes missing, anarchy reigns and the characters determine that only a sacrifice to the “sandwich gods” will ease their pain. Dolphins are touted as “protectors of the universe.”

Publication date: February 5, 2015