The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water Review: Nautical Nonsense

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Confession: I’m a pretty big fan of Spongebob Squarepants. The early seasons up to and including the first theatrical effort in 2004, The Spongebob Squarepants Movie, are like a kid- and adult-friendly mash-up of The Simpsons and Looney Tunes.

But like it’s more adult cousin on FOX, Spongebob eventually started losing its charm. The jokes became more obvious and childish, losing the appeal as a show that could unite the family in the TV room and have everyone laughing.

Being a major theatrical release, Sponge Out of Water almost has to try and appeal to the audience that fell in love with these characters over a decade ago. The end result is a mixed bag of overly obvious jokes with the occasional winner that harkens back to the glory days sprinkled in.

At one point, the titular sponge has a mental breakdown where he mixes garbage and recycling, to the horror of on-lookers. This got a big laugh out of me. It’s the perfect mix of cartoon madness to keep the kids happy, with adults being the only ones that will truly get the joke. This is the formula that made Spongebob such a winner to begin with.

Speaking of formulas, the film’s plot revolves around the manic Burger-Beard (Antonio Banderas being weird and often quite hilarious) trying to steal the coveted Krabby Patty formula from Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown). When the formula mysteriously disappears, the movie becomes a surprisingly effective parody of  Mad Max. It’s up to Spongebob (Tom Kenny) to save the day.

This movie is just absolutely mindless, but sometimes it feels like it’s trying too hard to be that. It doesn’t have the synergy to let this unique tone land like the last film and the early seasons of the show do. By the time the characters actually get out of water, the humor caves in on itself and we get bland jokes and a half-baked Avengers parody (the Mad Max material worked much better, surprising for a “kid’s movie”).

But there are still moments of comic genius and “what the heck am I watching?” weirdness to keep this movie afloat and true enough to the show’s yesteryears. If you cut all the crap out and shrink the runtime a lot, you’d have the best Spongebob episode in years. Alas, it was not meant to be. Grade: C+

By Matt Dougherty

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