Even more fun and absurd than it's ten-year-old predecessor, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water takes a paper thin story and milks it for everything it's worth while serving up ample doses of humor, quirky characters, light sentimentality, and just plain ole' fun along the way.
The film kicks off with Burger Beard (Antonio Banderas), a krusty ole' pirate following his treasure map to secure a legendary book that tells the tale of one SpongeBob Squarepants (Tom Kenny). It's a fun little way to introduce the story and its characters to those who might not actually be familiar, though it's hard to believe that SpongeBob has now been around since 1999. Plankton (Mr. Lawrence) is still launching attack after attack on the Krusty Krab, the restaurant where SpongeBob works serving up the deep sea's famed Krabby Patties, a favorite snack in Bikini Bottom. Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown) steadfastly guards the secret recipe, but after one particular attack fended off by SpongeBob the recipe goes missing.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water exists to get that recipe back and to let children and their parents have a lot of fun while doing it.
In the time since the first SpongeBob movie, technology has changed dramatically and it's clear that co-directors Mike Mitchell and Paul Tibbitt are having a blast with the advanced technology and opportunity to work in 3-D this time around.
Oh, and for the record, this is actually one of those rare films that definitely should be seen in 3-D. Trust me, it's worth it.
The secret to a successful Spongebob movie is really pretty simple - spontaneous and random humor, quick but fun dialogue references, a good heart, and a visual style so upbeat that it's almost impossible to leave the theater not feeling better than when you entered.
As one might expect from a cast that has for the most part lived in these characters for years, the vocal work in The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water is all top notch with newcomer Antonio Banderas, who also happens to be one of the few major celebrities with a significant role, doing a bang up job as Burger Beard. You may notice a few brief cameos along the way, but for the most part this is a film that recognizes the value in focusing on quality vocal work instead of worrying about celebrities to sell the project.
Much as been made, at times cynically, of the decision to move part of the action onto dry land (which was actually done in the 2004 film, too). It works beautifully, especially with advances in CG and in the transitions the characters undergo from beginning to end. It's creative filmmaking that works beautifully.
If you're the type who has always been irritated by SpongeBob, then there's nothing here that's going to change your mind. This is more SpongeBob, bigger and brighter and in 3-D. Personally? I had a blast with it and found myself laughing consistently throughout the film. I have a feeling so will you and your younger children.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic