Ever since the day that ‘SpongeBob Squarepants’ first debuted on television, it has received a bad rap. From the outside, it looks like nothing more than a purely 100 percent stupid kids show – which isn’t unwarranted – but the adults who have actually stopped to watch the show with their kids know that there’s quite a bit more to it than just that purely stupid façade. Like it’s tiny, squishy, quirky central character, there’s a good heart and intelligence hidden beneath the surface of the series, including a great amount of comedy that extends beyond the slapstick silly comedic taste of the children to whom the show primarily panders.
Eleven years ago, Paramount gave us the first ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ movie – and it was hilarious. The difference between that movie and ‘Sponge Out of Water’ is that this tale isn’t just a 90-minute episode. Instead, the stakes are raised. The ante has been upped. As movies are meant to do, this one takes place on a grand scale that affects more than just the single main character and starfish sidekick; the fate of everyone in Bikini Bottom is at stake.
‘Sponge Out of Water’ opens with a live-action sequence that introduces us to series’ narrator, Burger Beard, played by Antonio Banderas. This grungy pirate runs a solo operation. On a small ship, he and his crew of talking and singing CG seagulls have finally found themselves at the small island that we see in the opening of each ‘SpongeBob’ episode. Burger Beard heads for the shore and finds a ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’-esque guarded pirate treasure: a large bound book that has an image of the Krabby Patty super secret special recipe emblazoned on the cover. After stealing the book from a living skeleton and getting back to his boat, Burger Beard begins reading the tail within, which takes us down to the animated Bikini Bottom that we would expect to see any ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ episode.
Our Bikini Bottom story begins by throwing us straight into the middle of the story (although an included deleted scene gives us a proper introduction to the characters and what’s about to happen). Plankton is about to commence his most in-depth and promising mission yet to steal the Krabby Patty formula from Mr. Krabs, once and for all. Just when it’s about to happen, something magical takes place that keeps Plankton from stealing the recipe – but it also sends the fate of bikini bottom spiraling out of control. The recipe has mysteriously disappeared from existence in front of Plankton and SpongeBob. Believing that SpongeBob has been in cahoots with Plankton all along, Krabs and Bikini Bottom head out after the two of them with the belief that they stole the recipe for themselves. While every character that we know snaps into a post-apocalyptic mode within burning Bikini Bottom, SpongeBob and Plankton are forced to forge a two-man team to save the day. To do so will require them to trust one another, travel through a little bit of time and seek help from those who they least expect to offer it.
‘Sponge Out of Water’ is a homerun. Sure, it helps to be a SpongeBob fan to have the desire to want to see it, but you don’t have to know the franchise in order to enjoy it. I can easily see ‘Sponge Out of Water’ creating fans out of those who previously avoided it. Not only is it consistently hilarious, the climax, which places the central characters in CG form into the live-action real world, is creative, fun and full of delightful action.
I have always heard of (but never actually read) studies that claim that ‘SpongeBob Squarepants’ kills brain cells. Even if that’s the case, ‘Sponge Out of Water’ is totally worth it. If the decision to watch it truly sends brain cells on a suicide mission, then it’s absolutely worth while.