The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water is more acid trip than movie. I expect nautical nonsense from my favorite sea sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea, but this is just ridiculous. The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie couldn’t have come at a better time. Although late creator Stephen Hillenburg meant SpongeBob to end after 3 amazing seasons and a movie, Nickelodeon couldn’t let go of their little SquarePants moneymaker. So series destroyer Paul Tibbitt ran the show into the ground from season 4-9 with so many truly awful episodes that relied on gross imagery, mean spirited humor, and perpetually moronic characters. I held on as long as I could, but I eventually had to give up on my childhood icon. So I wasn’t exactly keen on a sequel 11 years after its downfall. Although nothing can top what came before, I’ll begrudgingly call Sponge Out of Water a return to form. It’s just complete false advertisement since the live-action/computer animated segments are only in about 25 minutes of the movie.
It’s a shame traditional animation is so overshadowed, because everything in Bikini Bottom looks really good. Apart from the main cast, Antonio Banderas is the only major celebrity. He plays the live-action pirate Burger Beard alongside a flock of seagulls voiced by veteran cartoon voice actors. Burger Beard’s villainous scheme is using a magical book to gain the addictive Krabby Patty secret formula in order to make his own patties on the surface. The lack of patties turns everyone to a post-apocalyptic rage against SpongeBob when he chooses to believe Plankton isn’t behind the theft. Despite their militaristic feud, SpongeBob & Plankton learn about teamwork by traveling in a time machine to get the formula back. The trippy feel comes from the multitude of animation styles they end up using. Including SpongeBob’s bizarre sugary brain fantasy and their unusual meeting with a space dolphin.
SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward, Mr. Krabs, and even Sandy only reach the surface when they smell Krabby Patties. The dolphin gives them the ability to breath above water and that’s when they become computer animated. Their antics are still just as zany and strangely risque. Sponge Out of Water becomes a superhero movie at the very end when SpongeBob gives them superpowers by writing in the magical book’s pages. Unlike the episode “Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy V,” everyone’s identity is a lot closer to their personality. SpongeBob is the bubble blowing The Invincibubble, Patrick is the ice cream summoning Mr. Superawesomeness, Squidward is the clarinet playing Sour Note, Mr. Krabs is the robotic Sir Pinch-a-Lot, Sandy is the realistic squirrel The Rodent, and even Plankton becomes the heroic Plank-Ton. It’s a creative final fight that brings everyone together under the Krusty Krab. A fine ending ruined by an out of nowhere epic rap battle of history. Sponge Out of Water is weird, but it works.