When Nickelodeon put out a trailer for the sequel to The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, I was both shocked and scared—though the trailer did illicit a few soft laughs. Especially facing the fact that it appeared the majority of the film would actually take place on land, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water did not at all impress me at first glance, nor did I have any desire to see it.
However, after much internal debate and the realization that my inner SpongeBob fan would never let me miss out on this (probable) last opportunity to see the little guy’s hilarious escapades on the big screen, I geared up, with high hopes and low expectations, to see everybody’s favorite sponge get back his treasured Krabby Patty secret formula. To my surprise and great relief, not only did Out of Water outperform its weak trailer, it delivered a stunning 2D-3D experience that could bring any disgruntled fan to his knees, cringing with laughter.
Out of Water spends most of the film in or around Bikini Bottom, SpongeBob’s hometown. Although the film opens with the dastardly Burger-Beard the Pirate (Antonio Banderas) treasure-hunting on the show’s reputable little island, it quickly descends to the depths of the abyss, where Plankton, as usual, is trying his best to nab the secret formula from his rival, Mr. Krabbs. The formula vanishes, much to everyone’s surprise, and SpongeBob and the gang must hunt down and rescue the secret formula.
Their journey eventually takes them up to the surface, but much less time is actually spent on land than the film’s titles and previews suggest. This is much to the film’s advantage, as most of the onshore gags and sequences have been exposed and worn-out through the film’s previews. Although the landlubber scenes look gorgeous and provide many “unaware” or “out-of-place” gimmicks for the group to traverse across, the film’s strength really lies in the original home of our favorite sea-creatures, Bikini Bottom.
Bikini Bottom actually looks amazing in this film. Our heroes are meticulously and impressively crafted in their scenes on land, and the environments deep in the depths of the sea are equally well-designed and implemented. One of the first shots that really stood out to me was an assortment of condiments and toppings for the delectable Krabby Patty, beautifully layered through the film’s 3D design. This is one of the best 3D experiences that I have had in a movie theater, arguably the best. There are some stranger segments of the film, filled with multitudes of lavish colors that fully utilize the 3D technology available to help draw out impressive palettes.
Speaking of strange scenes, there is a lot more than SpongeBob and his pals at play in this movie. Intergalactic security, talking seagulls, and the inner workings of our favorite sponge’s brain (a scene which might actually have disturbed me if I were still a little kid) are all brought into fruition. These scenes detracted from the film and did not feel like they fit in with the atmosphere of the rest of the film or the traditional SpongeBob universe, but I guess anything is really up for grabs when dealing with a talking sponge. Parts of these seemingly unrelated characters and scenes are actually used as major plot points of the film and, for any conscientious viewer, take a lot away from the drive of the narrative as a whole.
But, face it: seeing a SpongeBob movie, an audience should suspend its disbelief and go along for the ride. If a viewer can go along with a lot of what this movie puts down, ridiculous as it may be, they can really enjoy the film as a whole. Speaking on this point of ridiculousness, this film is rather punny overall, which is a big shift in humor, generally, for these characters. This shift does not detract from the characters’ appeal at all though and it is impressive how well this film holds the main cast to their natural demeanors and appeal. Aside from Plankton, whose character arch, though substantive, is rather different from his usual maliciousness, the primary characters all still hold onto what audiences love most about them.
SpongeBob has been around for a long time at this point and, though the show might have lost some of its original fan-base over the years, (we all have to grow up at some point) Out of Water does a fantastic job reviving an audience’s inner sponginess. It might not be anywhere near receiving the Best Picture award for next year, but Out of Water reminds us of one our favorite childhood companions and emulates the originality and atmosphere in which the show prospers.
Featured Image Courtesy of Paramount Pictures