UK Release Date: 27th March 2015
Runtime: 93 minutes
Director: Paul Tibbitt, Mike Mitchell
Writer: Glenn Berger, Jonathan Aibel
Starring: Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Clancy Brown, Antonio Banderas, Mr Lawrence, Matt Berry, Alan Carr, Rodger Bumpass, Carolyn Lawrence
Synopsis: SpongeBob and his friends go on a crazy journey, through time and above the surface, as they attempt to find the stolen Krabby Patty formula.
To anyone familiar with children’s television, SpongeBob SquarePants is a hugely recognisable face. The character has already reached the big screen once, in 2004, and now returns with an ambitious sequel that combines the TV series’ trademark animation with live action sequences set above the sea. For kids, and slightly bigger kids, this is a real treat.
SpongeBob (Tom Kenny) enjoys his life in Bikini Bottom with his friend Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke), making Krabby Patties for Mr Krabs (Clancy Brown) and thwarting Plankton’s (Mr Lawrence) attempts to steal the secret recipe. One day, though, the formula goes missing and SpongeBob must team with his nemesis to get it back as the trail leads to evil pirate Burger Beard (Antonio Banderas).
In the midst of rather conventional children’s films, such as Home, the anarchic thrills of Sponge Out of Water are a welcome change. This is a film that is prepared to try absolutely everything to make its audience laugh, from Christmas Cracker wordplay to mind-bending surrealism. It’s got plenty for children to enjoy, but also manages to entertain the adults without resorting to gratuitous innuendo.
| "The Krabby Patty is what ties us all together! Without it, there will be a complete breakdown of social order."
At the centre of it all is SpongeBob, who remains an excellent comic creation despite being essentially a generic comedy idiot. His interplay with arch-rival Plankton is one of the highlights of Sponge Out of Water, as this is not a combination that gets much time in the TV show. Whether they’re trading lame puns or travelling through time, they are a consistently entertaining double act.
Sponge Out of Water feels like a film made by people who know their audience. They combine the standard kiddie movie tropes with some outright trippy sequences. There’s a trip inside SpongeBob’s mind that nods hilariously to The Shining and a side-splitting interaction with a space dolphin voiced by the incomparable Matt Berry that feels like it could’ve been ripped from the pages of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Publicity material for the film has largely focused on the third act, in which SpongeBob and his friends realise that they must travel above the sea in order to regain the missing formula. It is when this segment of the film starts that Sponge Out of Water loses its momentum and becomes something considerably more generic, nodding predictably towards the current superhero movie trend.
| "You know what this needs? Some interpretive dance."
There seems little point, though, in picking at Sponge Out of Water’s single fatal flaw as the rest of the film is a brisk, euphoric journey through a deranged and hilarious cartoon world. By the time the end credits begin and Matt Berry’s dolphin squares up to a seagull voiced by Alan Carr in a rap battle, the memory of those live action scenes has been completely banished.
This is as good a television adaptation as the world of film is likely to produce this year.
Pop or Poop?
Packed with a gag rate to rival Monty Python and plenty to appeal to all age groups, Sponge Out of Water is a genuinely impressive film.
It loses its way rather dramatically when it ventures into the world of live action, but that seems unimportant when there’s such a rich well of comedy at the heart of the film’s script.
It’s kooky and weird enough to please adults without alienating its core audience of kids. That, alone, warrants a huge, fishy thumbs up.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.