LIGHT SPOILERS FOLLOW
It was around the 60-minute mark of Sponge Out of Water when I realized that the sponge hadn’t gone out of water. What a relief, because even though I have been anticipating this recent Spongebob movie for some time now, the stills of the now classic characters sporting surprising buff features threw me off. I laughed during the trailer, but couldn’t help but feel awkward when seeing the characters all juiced up on superhero steroids. But the deceptive posters are misleading, because when the 60-minute mark does come (or somewhere around 60 minutes), they come out of water, but only for fifteen or twenty minutes. The bulk of this new Spongebob movie takes place in our comfort zone, below sea level, in the peaceful colony of Bikini Bottom. The tale that ensues is a fun one filled with funny jokes: goofy ones for kids and edgy ones for adults.
Much like the first theatrical adaptation of the animated series back in 2004 (let that sink in for a minute or two), this new movie begins with a set of live action characters, or should I say, character. Antonio Banderas is Burger-Beard, a pirate who finds a book with a cover that is imprinted with the iconic silhouette of the Krabby Patty secret formula. He doesn’t do so easily, though, as he has to encounter a scary skeleton to acquire it. Burger-Beard wants the formula for his own purposes, and his role is better realized later on.
Under the water, someone else wants the secret formula, and I’m sure it’s no surprise to you to learn that it’s the little green plankton named, well, Plankton. He wants the Krabby Patty formula so that he can be successful with his own restaurant, The Chum Bucket, a taboo organization that gets no business because of the horrendous food quality. Don’t bring that up to him, though. “Is that really necessary?” he says on more than one occasion when someone talks smack about his diner. Poor chump.
But you don’t need me to tell you that Plankton is out to steal the Krabby Patty secret formula. We’ve gone through this same adventure for the past sixteen years (again, let that sink in for a few minutes). So what’s different about it this time? Well, Plankton actually gets it, but when he does, the unthinkable happens. An unprecedented apocalyptic societal breakdown occurs, causing everyone to lose their minds and causing random fires and boat crashes. “Welcome to the apocalypse,” Mr. Krabs says while wearing a leather suit with a spiked collar. “I hope you like leather.” This is one of the many hilariously edgy jokes that are uttered throughout the movie.
What the movie really becomes about is the teaming up of Spongebob and Plankton to build a time machine (yes, a time machine) to go back and try to un-steal the recipe. Oh, and it’s also a mind trip. I’ve never done drugs in my life, but I feel like I can safely say that The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water is the equivalent of getting high on some kind of strong substance. If you’re saying, “Really? How weird could it be?” Let me give you a taste. The two go into the future and discover a talking dolphin who is ruling over the universe, and has been for thousands of years. In a later sequence, Spongebob and Patrick get high on a sugar rush and appear to run around the entire world, laughing with eyes bulging. It’s almost like ecstasy. Oh yeah, and whenever Plankton and Spongebob are being transported through time, they are always flying toward the camera with the trippy song ‘Squeeze Me’ by N.E.R.D playing in the background. With that, this new Spongebob movie is a mind trip. A stoner movie even.
It certainly helps that the producers of the first few seasons have returned for this one, thus allowing for edgier jokes that are sure to fly over the little ones’ heads. But the bulk of the laughs from the adult crowd aren’t earned from adult-oriented jokes as much as the crazy, trippy style of some of the sequences. Remember in Ted when John and Ted were sitting on the couch smoking their bong and watching Spongebob, without any care in the world? Well, this movie is a worthy substitute that would fit right into that situation.
Keep in mind, this is a Spongebob movie. If you don’t like Spongebob, don’t see it. It’s that simple. For those of us that do like the little square guy, it’s loads of fun. Just like in the show, the live action sequences with the pirate don’t mesh too well with the underwater stuff, but when the two are combined in the third act for the heavily advertised sequence, it does. The animation, all CGI, looks bright and visually attractive. I could’ve gone without the pirate (said every kid ever), but at least Antonio Banderas seems to be having some fun with it. It’s not perfect. It’s not profound. It’s Spongebob, and it’s awesome. If you’ve never tripped out on acid, here’s a good, clean, harmless substitute. “Yeahhhhhh, here we go now.”
Rated PG for mild action and rude humor
Starring Tom Kenny, Clancy Brown, Rodger Bumpass, Bill Fagerbakke, Mr. Lawrence, Carolyn Lawrence, Antonio Banderas
Written by Glenn Berger and Jonathan Aibel
Directed by Paul Tibbitt and Mike Mitchell