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Review – ‘The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water’

Our favorite yellow, porous and absorbent porifera is back on the big screen.

The yellow, porous and absorbent one is back on the big screen. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water brings everyone’s favorite porifera into the wonderful world of CGI animation—but only for a while.

Don’t let those posters fool you; only about (guestimate) one quarter of the film’s running time features SpongeBob and company on dry land in pixilated form. The majority of the film has the Bikini Bottomers underwater and in 2D, where frankly they seem much more at home.  (Texture-wise, CGI SpongeBob and his friends look almost exactly like PVC figurines of themselves.)

When Mr. Krabs’ secret Krabby Patty formula, long coveted by Plankton vanishes out of the tiny villain’s tiny hands, SpongeBob convinces him that through teamwork (or as a reluctant Plankton calls it, “tee-emwork”) they can regain it and rescue Bikini Bottom from the Mad Max-style dystopia it instantly devolves into the moment the formula disappears. (“Welcome to the apocalypse,” a harness-wearing Mr. Krabs advises Squidward, “I hope ya’ like leather.” “Well actually, I prefer suede,” responds the always glum cephalopod.)

Thanks to a magic, reality-altering storybook, SpongeBob and company transform into muscular, superheroic versions of themselves. (Except for the squirrely Sandy Cheeks who undergoes quite a different transformation, and given the chance would probably date Enchanted’s Pip.) They set out to regain the formula from the movie’s actual villain, the curly red-whiskered Burger Beard. (A hamming-it-up-for-all-he’s-worth Antonio Banderas, having the time of his life.) The movie climaxes with an extended land battle as the heroes pursue Burger-Beard’s four-wheeled pirate ship past “Salty Shoals’” pastel-colored storefronts (portrayed by a repainted Savannah Georgia street).

As with many trips, the journey is more interesting than the destination. (Don’t get me wrong, that showdown is far from boring, with plenty of thrills, chills and goofball heroics.) SpongeBob and Plankton undergo some truly bizarre moments on their way to Salty Shoals, including an insanely feral Sandy, mind-warping time and space travel that puts 2001 to shame, a cosmic dolphin that would’ve made Douglas Adams proud, and at the end a huge hat-tip to one of my favorite YouTube features.

With fifteen years’ worth of Nickelodeon cartoons and two feature films under his belt SpongeBob keeps going strong… just between you and me though, I think he’s super—with or without super powers.

Joe Strike's picture

Joe Strike has written about animation for numerous publications. He is the author of Furry Nation: The True Story of America's Most Misunderstood Subculture.