Alex Yarde braves uncharted waters in his spoilery review of The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water
Release Date: February 6th 2015
In a world without Krabby Patties madness reigns! SpongeBob SquarePants fans rejoice!
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water is an all-new 3-D adventure featuring the world’s favorite sea dwelling invertebrate & friends come ashore to our world for his most super heroic adventure yet. I’ve been a SpongeBob SquarePants fan for 15 years and I’m glad to report it’s still crazy like a fox, this film was a unique treat!
Based on the highest rated series in Nickelodeon history and a decade spanning international phenomenon, director Paul Tibbetts says, “It’s everything you want in a movie. We’ve taken familiar characters and pushed them in completely new directions.” He’s correct, it’s equal part road movie, superhero movie and post apocalyptic movie and it’s all delivered in state of the art 3-D! The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water has the feeling that after years of working within the constraints of television, Paramount & Nickelodeon in their infinite wisdom gave Tippit and the creative team carte blanche to explore new creative possibilities for the series classic characters. No idea was too crazy; they were given the latitude to make it happen and it paid off big time.
As the movie begins, legendary Pirate Burger Beard (a live action Antonio Banderas) explores a tropical island in search of a fabled tome. After an amusing opening sequence he reads a tale of Spongebob’s undersea home Bikini Bottom to a chatty group of talking seagulls on the deck of his tiny Pirate ship. Life in bikini bottom couldn’t be better for eternal optimist SpongeBob (Tom Kenny) his job as fry cook at the Krusty Krab supplies him with an unlimited supply of Krabby Patties. Bikini Bottom loves the legendary sandwiches and they are the cornerstone of the Bikini Bottom undersea economy. The Krusty Krab is the only restaurant on land or sea that sells them and has become an institution of the diverse species of Bikini Bottom by zealously keeping the formula a closely guarded secret.
No one knows the secret formula not even crustacean capitalist and owner of the Krusty Krab Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown). Suddenly, the recipe disappears! Smash cut to THE APOCALYPSE!!! Bikini Bottom instantly devolves into hilariously realized leather clad, barbarian ruled, fiery (I know it ‘s underwater go with it), Mad Max style hellscape! Plankton (Mr. Lawrence) the greedy, conniving proprietor of rival restaurant “Chum Bucket” is suspected of stealing the recipe but SpongeBob knows better, he also knows Plankton is the only one with the resources to help solve this mystery. So, for first time ever SpongeBob and Plankton join forces to track down the real culprit.
Here is a great “Midnight Run” juxtaposition. Some of the wittiest dialogue in the film is between these two archenemies forced to depend on each other because they have to. After escaping an angry mob Defiant Ones style SpongeBob then enlists his motley crew of friends on his quest, brainless starfish Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke), sardonic Squidward, (Rodger Bumpass) & scientist squirrel Sandy (Carolyn Lawrence). On a sidesplitting trip through time and space they set forth on an epic journey that takes them further than they have ever gone before from the observation deck of a super evolved space faring porpoise, to the recesses of the sugarcoated insides of SpongeBob’s brain and finally OUR WORLD!
The brilliant major third act set piece of the film, through a series of events series that could only happen in a SpongeBob movie, involves SpongeBob and his friends battling Burger Beard on the streets of a modern city taking on Mystery Men type superhero personas inspired by each characters personal interest.
SpongeBob becomes “Incredibubble” because he loves blowing bubbles. Patrick loves ice cream so his telekinetic powers summon it at will. Squidward plays the clarinet so he becomes a Music based hero appropriately named “Sour Note”, inventor Plankton pilots a huge Gundam like mecha and Mr. Krab’s channels Iron Man with awesome armored abilities. All the principle voice actors wear their unique TV alter egos like hands in well worn in gloves at this point. The filmmakers do a great job capturing the spirit and emotions of these characters with their new powers and witty battlefield banter.
Some of the most impressive visual effects work I’ve seen in an animated feature were brought to bear. Australian visual effect powerhouse ILOURA (Ted) is a company to watch in their field. The SpongeBob TV show has always had an element of animation and live-action but I’ve never seen anything on this level. I was blown away by some of the shots in this film. ILOURA was great integrating all the elements and making these characters seem like they share the same world. It’s a radically different visual experience than fans have ever seen before there was great care into making the 2-D characters 3-D versions.
The live action is firmly anchored by Antonio Banderas’ Pirate Burger Beard. Banderas as Burger Beard has loads of charisma and charm. Mr. Banderas has always been a versatile actor and he really brings to life this eccentric character. As in the Spy Kids series, he is very physical has a great comedic sensibility and almost a Buster Keaton level of commitment to physical comedy.
The residents of Bikini Bottom are on their own planet with its own rules arguably along with the filmmakers. The creative team achieves something extraordinary here. It’s cleverly jam packed with pop-culture and film references, for example, there is a long piece of music taken from Sergio Leones’ The Good The Bad and The Ugly, that fits the scene it’s in perfectly, yet there’s never anything so topical that might date this film. Bikini Bottom exists in a bubble and that’s what I think keeps endearingly naive SpongeBob and his wacky friends adventures timeless and allows for so much creative freedom.
Bottom line: My kids loved it. I loved it and I dare say that SpongeBob connoisseurs will enjoy it more and more with repeated viewings. And as an entry level for newcomers there are plenty unanswered questions. Is the Krabby Patty a metaphor for any coveted consumer widget? Is the collapse of Bikini Bottom shrewd commentary on rampant consumerism run amok? Are superpowers only a manifestation of our true selves? Who would win in a rap battle between a super evolved space porpoise and a talking seagull? (That one scene brought the house down.) I think I need a second viewing; there are many layers to this entertaining onion I’m sure I’ve missed.
Paul Tibbit from Paramount animation and Nickelodeon Movies directed The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, with live-action directed by Mike Mitchell executive produced by Stephen Hillenburg. The SpongeBob movie Sponge Out of Water is based on the series SpongeBob SquarePants created by Hillenburg, with the story by Hillenberg and Paul Tibit and screenplay by Jonathan Aibel & Glenn Burger. The music is by John Debney.
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