The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water

2015, PG, 93 min. Directed by Paul Tibbitt. Voices by Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Clancy Brown, Mr. Lawrence, Carolyn Lawrence, Matt Berry. Starring Antonio Banderas.

REVIEWED By William Goss, Fri., Feb. 13, 2015

In a computer-generated sea of carefully obscured traumas and tidy life lessons, one sentient sponge dares not to take animated matters so seriously. Arriving a full decade after its big-screen predecessor, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water returns to the hand-drawn depths of Bikini Bottom and maintains the anarchic charms of both that film and the Nickelodeon series that introduced the world to the wide-eyed, high-pitched likes of SpongeBob SquarePants.

Ever the devoted grill jockey at the Krusty Krab, SpongeBob (voiced by Tom Kenny) is once again enlisted by owner Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown) to protect the restaurant’s secret Krabby Patty recipe from megalomaniacal rival Plankton (Mr. Lawrence). Once the recipe vanishes into thin air, SpongeBob and Plankton team up to clear their names and save Bikini Bottom’s burger-mad residents from their own feral impulses.

More so than 2004’s The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, Paul Tibbitt’s follow-up feels like a loose assembly of three episodes involving end times, time travel, and superheroics, all improbably framed by the above-water misdeeds of dastardly pirate Burger Beard (Antonio Banderas, incredibly game as the lone live-action star). However, it’s tough to hold a lack of narrative ambition against any ’toon so eager to lob bit after bit of psychedelic surrealism at its audience, be they wee tykes or stoned adults.

Whether the jokes bank on familiar genre tropes (the insta-Apocalypse arrives complete with leather gear for all), cultural nostalgia (Schoolhouse Rock!, anyone?), torture implements (the most effective of which being SpongeBob’s inane laugh), or an old-fashioned drop of the pants, the cumulative effect is akin to mainlining Pixy Stix. There are puns aplenty and no shortage of trippy visuals, whether characters venture into SpongeBob’s cotton candy-addled brain or into the farthest reaches of space to meet a cosmic dolphin (Matt Berry) as prone to firing off blowhole lasers as he is to dropping dope rhymes.

It’s high-brow, low-brow, and just about every brow in between, replete with meta winkiness and manic energy. The sponge does lose some steam once he and his cohorts venture onto land and transform themselves into CGI superheroes in an effort to satisfy both mainstream appeal and toy manufacturers. Still, there’s something to be said for a family film that only pays the most sarcastic lip service to the power of teamwork, being far too busy working itself into a lather of laughs to care much about messages.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Antonio Banderas Films
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
Indy's final adventure remembers the whip, forgets the charm

Richard Whittaker, June 30, 2023

Official Competition
Cruz and Banderas reunite in this scathing comedy about ego and filmmaking

Kimberley Jones, July 1, 2022

More by William Goss
Love & Mercy
Paul Dano anchors an ambitious vision of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson

June 5, 2015

They're here … again. But why?

May 29, 2015


The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water, Paul Tibbitt, Antonio Banderas

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle