“Patrick, what are you doing?” asks SpongeBob SquarePants. Patrick Star responds, “Vandalizing stuff.” Plankton asks Patrick, “Isn’t that your house?”
It goes without saying that I, like numerous others, am familiar with Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants. However, I’d hardly say that I’m a regular viewer (I’ve only stumbled across one or two episodes on TV). This did not prevent me from seeing 2004’s The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, which I saw at the Museum of the Moving Image 10 years ago. I enjoyed it very much, as did many others. It seemed that a sequel was likely, but it surprisingly took more than a decade to appear. I recently saw The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water in 3D, and it was a very enjoyable (and surprisingly trippy) experience. It’s one of those self-contained sequels where seeing the first film isn’t necessary, but its simplistic plot “forced” distributor Paramount to engage in a largely misdirecting (or misrepresenting) marketing campaign.
2015’s The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water centers on a walking, talking sponge named SpongeBob SquarePants, who lives in a pineapple under the sea. SpongeBob faces off at the Krusty Krab fast food restaurant against Plankton, who schemes to steal Mr. Krabs’ secret Krabby Patty formula. When the secret formula mysteriously vanishes, SpongeBob and Plankton are forced to team up to find it while their undersea town of Bikini Bottom descends into chaos. A series of misadventures leads them leads them to a confrontation on the surface world with the pirate Burger Beard. Director Paul Tibbitt keeps the spirit of the series alive in SpongeBob’s second cinematic outing. The screenplay by Glenn Berger and Jonathan Aibel (from a story by creator Stephen Hillenburg and director Tibbitt) contains a number of hilarious gags as well as some surprising film references (such as The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior). Kudos to Berger and Aibel for maintaining the gags (the encounter with Bubbles, the magical dolphin who oversees the cosmos, was a little trippy, and thankfully had a payoff).
The original cast is brought back again: Tom Kenny (as SpongeBob), Bill Fagerbakke (as Patrick), Rodger Bumpass (as Squidward), Clancy Brown (as Mr. Krabs), Mr. Lawrence (as Plankton), Carolyn Lawrence (as Sandy), and Jill Talley (as Karen). Additional voices include Tim Conway, Kevin Michael Richardson, Eddie Deezen, Tom Wilson, Billy West, Dee Bradley Baker, Carlos Alazraqui, Riki Lindhome, and Kate Micucci. A live action Antonio Banderas also stars as Burger Beard. An inspiring choice, Banderas is a real hoot as Burger Beard, bringing a good dose of slapstick villainy without going too over-the-top (playing the character straight just made him funnier). Most of the film is the traditional animation that dominated the series and the first film (only the last act becomes a mix of live action and computer animation). Phil Meheux’s cinematography is top-notch, and John Debney contributes a terrific score that mixes comedy and action. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water is a fun return to the world of SpongeBob, and can be quite trippy for adults (this may actually be the first stoner children’s comedy).