Sponge Out Of Water is full of laughs, surprises, and many Krabby Patties

Elizabeth Muratore, Staff Writer

Since 1999, SpongeBob SquarePants has entertained a generation of kids and their parents with nearly two hundred episodes, and now two feature films.  The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water is not a direct sequel to the first movie, but rather a companion piece that shows the familiar gang in a plot unrelated to that of the 2004 film.  It begins by introducing Burger Beard (Antonio Banderas), a pirate determined to find a book that describes the story of the inhabitants of Bikini Bottom as they deal with the horror of a Krabby Patty shortage.  The film spirals into delightful pandemonium from there, as porous yellow hero SpongeBob (Tom Kenny) confronts long-time enemy Plankton (Doug Lawrence) in an attempt to reclaim the Krabby Patty formula, and both learn a thing or two about teamwork.

Sponge Out Of Water has received most of its attention due to its live-action sequences, which, although heavily featured in the trailers, only compose the last twenty minutes of the film.  Though the live-action segments are entertaining and feature SpongeBob, Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke), Squidward (Rodger Bumpass), Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown) and Sandy (Carolyn Lawrence) as magical, three-dimensional superheroes, the movie’s strengths are the familiar two-dimensional antics present in the first hour and ten minutes.

One thing this movie lacks, and what made the first film so enjoyable, is a truly heartfelt storyline that threads throughout the narrative.  There are more than enough jokes to keep the audience laughing, but the essence of triumph and victory for SpongeBob that provided an ending to the first movie that was both uplifting and hilarious is not as present here.  This movie is fun to watch, but it is less about having a great storyline and more about cranking up the jokes-per-minute meter to as high as it can go.

However, isn’t mindless mayhem and creative chaos what SpongeBob is all about?  The first movie may have packed an emotional punch with its near-death experiences for SpongeBob and Patrick, but the show itself relies much more on absurd comedy than heartfelt plots.  If anything, this movie adheres closer to the “formula” for which the TV show has become so successful: endearing characters in ridiculous situations. It also features a number of vaguely psychedelic digressions, including a trip into the far-too-sweet world of SpongeBob’s brain.  For devoted fans who appreciate this nonsensical aspect of SpongeBob, this movie will surely be a treat.

What this movie also does particularly well is give a nod to the many long-time SpongeBob fans.  This is likely due to the return of the show’s creator, Stephen Hillenberg, who left the show after the first movie but was one of the primary writers for this second film.  Sponge Out of Water contains direct references to memorable lines and portions of old SpongeBob episodes that will make the show’s fans either smile nostalgically or laugh excitedly.  The movie also features a number of memorable characters that have not been mentioned on the show in years, in some cases since the release of the first movie.

Though fans may have fond memories of the first movie and the vintage SpongeBob episodes, if they truly appreciate SpongeBob and the crew’s undersea antics, they will enjoy this movie.  The animation here is sharp and done with care, the characters are all true to form, and the movie itself is filled with lovable hijinks, and some amusing talking seagulls.  Sponge Out Of Water gives an added boost to the already beloved SpongeBob franchise and will make anyone who lives in a pineapple under the sea very happy.