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Review

Latest SpongeBob SquarePants film is mildly successful

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February 11, 2015

The titular undersea sponge is back after all these years for his second film adventure, and as a former fan of SpongeBob it leaves me with heavy thoughts as to how good it actually is.

Let’s start off with the plot. SpongeBob SquarePants is a talking sponge under the sea who works his loving job at the Krusty Krab making Krabby Patties: a recipe that is highly guarded. The restaurant is constantly attacked by rival fast food competitor Plankton, whose plan this time may finally put SpongeBob and the restaurant out of business. But the secret recipe is gone.

No one knows how this could happen; other than a pirate by the name of Burger Beard (Antonio Banderas) who has found a magic book that can make whatever is written in it true. He appears to have stolen this recipe for his own evil purpose and it will be up to SpongeBob and his friends Patrick, Squidward, Sandy and Mr. Krabs, and all the teamwork they can muster to bring order back to their little atoll.

I find myself a bit conflicted when reviewing this film because SpongeBob has changed very much since its first years up to 2005. The latter was the year the first film came out, which despite getting some mixed reviews was considered an amiable addition to the television series and was the end for creator Stephen Hillenburg’s era on the show. But like any cash cow it’s not enough for it to come of age and die but to milk it until it’s dry.

As such new producers and writers were put to the series afterwards to continue it and brought it into a new creative direction. Put succinctly, jokes got lazier, plots became more ludicrous and less creatively inspired, and characterizations changed; gone was the man-child sponge many enjoyed and in came the full blown kid that few adults could find interest in.

That kind of infantile direction with SpongeBob is what has put many people off from it today, and this kind of direction follows in the film, but it’s not entirely unsalvageable.

Right off the bat, this movie is weird. It’s the weirdest thing SpongeBob has ever put out and that is saying a lot considering the nonsense they’ve put in later seasons. Futuristic dolphins, psychedelic kiddie-land sequences, and a fourth act in CGI that includes superpowers is only a short list of things the creators do with this film. I admit that this can feel alienating to a lot of people, but in an odd way it’s of one of the saving graces of the film.

Not to say the plot is great, which, like its protagonist, has holes in it, such as a time-travel element that is dropped fast and magic elements that feel thrown in for convenience. All the weird content they throw at you though is almost refreshing considering how little the creators have done with its television series in recent times, and perhaps merely making a film with bigger stakes at play gave a creative boost to the creators; just enough to make this film decent.

In the end, “Sponge Out of Water” is harmless enough for kids to watch, despite it still continuing a standard that I don’t appreciate at Nickelodeon Studios today. The animation is acceptable (especially during the land scenes), the voice-acting still good, and there’s enough humor to get the film by and not make you feel bored, your own personal tastes withstanding. Banderas actually shows some talent by acting just as cartoony as the animated characters, which thankfully makes his parts somewhat enjoyable.

Though I will still groan for the days when SpongeBob was still more than a kid’s show, this film does not dampen my moods too much. There is some method to its zaniness and it manages to be engaging enough, though the fourth act is where it actually gets exciting with action. If you’re craving some harmless animation, then SpongeBob will crave your fix. For those still wishing for the good times, I’d say give this one a pass unless you’re curious.

Ryan Funes is a lover of all things movie, TV, video games and stories and wants to become a television writer someday. In his spare time he enjoys hanging with friends, tapping into his imagination, and watching cartoons of all kinds.