Let me start off with a couple of asides to this review- Spongebob Squarepants started in 1999 when I was a freshman in college, so I was definitely too old to like it as a child, and I didn’t have a TV at that time to like it as a young adult. So, I kind of missed the Spongebob wave but had a lot of cousins and friends that loved it. Over the years I have caught episodes and even watched the first season in its entirety and really enjoyed it, but I do not have any emotional attachment like those who grew up with it.
The other thing I want to point out is the trailers totally undersell the movie. When I first saw the trailer my eyes rolled and I thought ‘oh boy here is another Smurf movie’. Smurfs is one of my personal worst movies I’ve ever seen. I hate Smurfs because they are crass, unfunny, stupid and full of constant product placement. The trailer makes Spongebob look like it is going to be such a CG live action monstrosity like we’ve gotten over the last few years. And the trailer is WRONG!!!!
Even the title is WRONG!!!!
It should read The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water For 1/3rd of Movie (maybe only 15-20 minutes of the movie!). Yes, believe it or not it is only the last act that the characters are in the human world as 3D characters. The rest looks great in hand drawn animation! It is definitely the most hand drawn animation in a mainstream movie in a long time.
The plot is completely wacko. And it is one that will either entertain you or make you nuts. It’s just so weird it will not please everyone. I’ll do my best to explain it without spoilers but I really did laugh my head off.
Basically we are back at Bikini Bottom with our old absorbent, yellow, and porous friend, Spongebob (voiced by Tom Kenny of course). As any fan of the show knows he works at the Krusty Krab flipping their famous krabby patties to the addicted patrons. His boss is Eugene H Krabs (the great Clancy Brown) who is the type of greedy capitalist who is usually the villain in movies. Their rival Sheldon J Plankton (Doug Lawrence) tries to steal the secret recipe for the krabby patties and is kind of successful but he’s not. There is also a live action pirate mostly narrating played by Antonio Banderas.
Squidward (Rodger Bumpass) works at the restaurant to his chagrin, Sandy (Carolyn Lawrence) the squirrel lives in a dome of air and Spongebob’s best friend Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke) is ruled by his gut.
They then have to go on a crazy journey to find the secret formula which involves time travel, land travel, turning into super heroes, a near sacrifice to the Krabby Patty Gods, a hilarious dolphin and more madness.
There is a cameo voice that was bizarre but hilarious I won’t give away. It is just an anything goes approach to storytelling and I was thoroughly entertained. The script is funny and it kept surprising me along the way.
I loved the animation throughout especially the 2D and made me laugh a lot which is what I look for in a comedy. It’s definitely trippy and strange but I feel like that is appropriate homage to the original show. In fact, I think some of the original team from the show worked on the movie and it shows. It is also quickly paced so you never go more than a few seconds without some kind of gag and it looks great at the same time. Very well done!
I hope that gives you some idea of what the movie is like. One minute you are in the future, next Spongebob is being offered up as a sacrifice, then there are battles with potatoes , a prophetic dolphin, plankton torture, and finally the live action events with Banderas. You will just have to ask yourself if you like things that are strange and off-kelter and if you do than you will enjoy it.
If that sounds like your cup of tea give it a shot . I would love it to be successful because I think it could show Hollywood that kids still like 2D animation. That everything doesn’t have to be CG.
It and Paddington certainly show with a good script and the right creative team anything can be good. Even a time traveling sponge with square pants. :). This is a bright, colorful, fun, and creative movie.
At one point all of the characters are superheroes and that is charming for just long enough and then they are off to the next phase. They get some good jabs at Marvel and other franchises out there.
I think fans of the original show will especially like it. Seems like it hits all the nostalgia buttons while still providing something current in the 3D.
As far as content a guy on twitter told me he banned the show for innuendo so I paid attention and honestly didn’t hear anything like that. There are some definite trippy moments that don’t make complete sense but other than that it is bright, cheerful and has a nice message about teamwork.
To all my parent friends I really don’t think you will have a terrible time at this movie with your kids. There is definitely enough to entertain adults and kids without it being tawdry but just know it is kind of out there.
Overall Grade- B Content Grade- A