The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, 2015.
Directed by Paul Tibbitt.
Starring Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Mr. Lawrence, Jill Talley, Dee Bradley Baker, Clancy Brown, Carolyn Lawrence, Mary Jo Catlett and Antonio Banderas.
When a diabolical pirate above the sea steals the secret Krabby Patty formula, SpongeBob and his nemesis Plankton must team up in order to get it back.
“Sponge Out of Water”: a suitably teasing sub-titled for the second (and hugely overdue) sequel to 2004’s SpongeBob Squarepants Movie, which promises more nautical shenanigans in and around Bikini Bottom with the titular sponge and his marine friends. Why it took so long for a sequel to appear in the first place despite its $140 million worldwide gross is a mystery the size of SpongeBob’s crabby-patty recipe, but back into the ocean we go, though be sure to take some ibuprofen with you, as Sponge Out of Water is arguably this year’s most mind-bending and kaleidoscopic of cinema trips.
We join SpongeBob at his jovial best, moseying on down to The Krusty Krab to begin his fun-filled day of serving Bikini Bottom with their favourite fast-food, the Crabby-Patty, fending off more of the evil Plankton’s dastardly schemes (with some crazy air assaults) to steal famous recipe for his own. But as they trade blows (or is that bubbles?), a devious pirate named Burger Beard steals the recipe himself sails away into the sunset. Played with the auto-pilot switched firmly planted in “sport mode” by Antonio Banderas, his performance is one that makes you wonder a) how the talented actor has had to resort to such things to get work and b) that his lame impression of Johnny-Depp-as-Jack-Sparrow may answer the first question.
Bikini Bottom descends into a warzone reminiscent of Mad Max, with black leather pierced with silver points and lip-piercings the preferred fashion accessories. Squarepants and Plankton are blamed, and decide to team-up to find the recipe, though not before a small case of time displacement, paradoxes, time-travel and multi-verse theories are thrust upon them on their journey to save their beloved home. Yep, if you thought Spongebob was strange before, you haven’t seen anything yet.
SpongeBob 2 is the kind of cartoon you’d imagine watching had you spent an hour or two with Batman villain The Scarecrow by way of the weird Transformers-hybrid “Battling Seizue Robots” that gave The Simpsons psychotropic fits in an 1999 episode. It’s a smorgasbord of wild, unconfined animation lunacy the likes of which you would expect in Monty Python (or any Terry Gilliam film for that matter) rather than a cartoon aimed at 5-to-7-year olds.
In fact, so definitively stimulating is the film that in many screenings, a deftly eerie silence has filled them rather than the usual hullabaloo that can come with a young audience. No need to acknowledge the “still time for a sugary snack” advert before the trailers here, as the stimulus that flows out of the film is so high that even adults will feel the kind of induced-hypnotic state more familiar with A Clockwork Orange than an innocent sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea.
That said, this isn’t an experience avoid, far from it: so far-fetched, outrageous but infectiously enthusiastic is Sponge Out of Water that it is undeniably fun, and what it lacks in cohesion and structure, it certainly makes up for in exuberance and whimsy which carries it through some of the more crazy elements, especially when the gang inexplicably become full-sized superheroes to take down Burger Beard in the real world. Relax though, as by that point so many peculiarities have taken place, your head ignores convention or realism and just goes with it.
While it won’t win any awards for structure nor subtlety, Sponge Out of Water is the maddest of mad rides you and/or your family will take this year. If you like crazy, no-holds barred imagination in your cartoons, this is the one for you. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★