It’s been 11 long years since Spongebob last made his appearance on the big screen and in that time little has changed in Bikini Bottom. Spongebob is still working at the Krusty Krab, Mr Krabs is still chasing every last dollar and Plankton is still trying to steal the secret recipe of the Krabby Patty. Spongebob: Sponge out of Water makes no attempt to further the story or enhance the characters, instead it just sticks to the basics and is all the better because of it.
The film starts with Antonio Banderas’ (Spy Kids) pirate Burgerbeard stealing an ancient book within which is the film’s tale. Spongebob is working another ordinary day at the Krusty Krab when Plankton shows up in attempt to steal the secret formula, only his plan is foiled – not by Spongebob or Mr Krabs but rather by the formula simply disappearing into thin air. Moments later Bikini Bottom has descended into a Mad Max inspired post apocalyptic state and Spongebob has to form an unlikely alliance with Plankton in order to find the formula and return order to Bikini Bottom.
That is as broad as can be without revealing too much of the film’s plot. The film sees the pair travel through space and time, encounter a Dolphin guarding the galaxy and as you may have seen in the trailer- end up above the sea’s surface. If all this sounds a little wacky that’s because it is. Sponge out of Water sees Spongebob return to his surreal best.
The main selling point of the movie has been the time the gang spend out of the water and whilst this is amusing it doesn’t make up as much of the film as you may think, in fact it is only really the last 20 minutes. The sequence is fun and has a few smart visual gigs and also riffs on the current superhero blockbuster trend. That being said the film is undeniably stronger when it is under the water – the animation is as innovate and as bonkers as it has always been; the film even manages to sneak in clever visual nods to the works of Stanley Kubrick and Sergio Leonne, the latter being a particular highlight.
Banderas is also fully up for the role – embracing the pantomime nature of his character and camping it up to the max whilst the voice work is as consistent as it has always been.
Sponge out of Water isn’t going to find Spongebob any new admirers – the film is classic Spongebob through and through and aside from a brief bit of exposition at the start of the film it never caters for people who haven’t watched the show. In short, if you like Spongebob you’ll love this, if you don’t you’re better off staying away.
On the whole Spongebob: Sponge out of Water is a pure delight – the manic, Monty Python inspired comedy never lets up and the visually innovative animation will delight both adults and children alike. Those who have never been fans of Bikini Bottom’s favourite son will no doubt find the film nonsensical and irritating but those who have always loved Spongebob’s crazy, surreal antics will think this is gold.