‘SpongeBob’ Sequel Does Source Material Justice

SB-2_posterMy childhood remains intact!

“The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” is the second big-screen adaption of everyone’s favorite ocean sponge, following the 2004’s “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie” [realizes it has been 10 years since the last film and slowly stares up into the sky as “Dust in the Wind” begins to play]. Instead of rescuing King Neptune’s crown, SpongeBob (again voiced perfectly by Tom Kenny), Patrick and company must this time retrieve the Krabby Patty secret formula from a pirate (Antonio Banderas). Paul Tibbitt directs.

When they first announced they were making a second SpongeBob movie, I got excited. SpongeBob and Harry Potter are the two staples of my childhood, and the first SpongeBob film remains one of the funniest kid’s films ever made (my humble opinion). However when I began to learn more and more about this sequel, I became worried. The trailer painted it to be almost completely CGI, and I was really concerned the film would be more of the recent kid-pandering, dumbed-down Sponge humor.

However after seeing “Out of Water”, I was happily surprised that about 80% of the film is the classic animation, and the film itself finds the rhythm, tone and references that made the original film and early seasons, hits.

Let’s get one thing straight: this is nothing but one big episode of SpongeBob SquarePants stretched to fit a motion picture runtime. There are so many nods to the classic episodes (like Patrick yelling “Finland!” after getting concussed) that it serves as an homage for long-time fans like myself, but it also has many other references people not familiar to the character will love (I lost track at the amount of Stanley Kubrick jokes in here).

The sign of a truly great child’s film is that it has jokes for all ages, not just kids, and “Out of Water” has just that. Sure, there are the butt jokes or simple things like a character yelling, “your brain is made of cotton candy!” that will have grade-school kids chuckling, but there are quite a few Family Guy-esque jokes in this movie too, including one back-and-forth with SpongeBob and Plankton that had me laughing out loud.

As funny as the film can be, it is just one stretched episode of SpongeBob, and at times it shows. Some scenes run a little long, and while the overarching message is about teamwork, other than that the movie really isn’t *about* anything. It is just SpongeBob and his friends involved in several (kind of trippy) montages while singing songs. At this point, though, what else could you really expect?

The series’ creator Stephen Hillenburg, who left the show at the completion of the first film, returns here to write the story and executively produce, and his presence is felt. The film has the sense of fun and wit about it that have been missing in recent years. Is this as good as the 2004 film? Not by a long shot, no, but it isn’t the train wreck I at one point feared.

If you don’t like SpongeBob then “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” probably won’t convert you, however if you are a fan, old or young, then this is colorful, hyper fun (if you couldn’t tell, I fall into the latter category). If you’re a parent who takes their child to see this, you’ll enjoy yourself. If you’re a 20-something like me who grew up on SpongeBob, then this is a fantastic trip down nostalgia lane. And if you’re a kid who currently watches SpongeBob…well first off, I doubt you’re reading this, and second, go watch the first three seasons; they’re much better than what they air for you guys now.

Critics Rating: 6/10