The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

(2015) ** Pg
93 min. Paramount Pictures. Director: Paul Tibbitt. Cast: Bill Fagerbakke, Antonio Banderas, Eric Bauza, Tom Kenny, Rodger Bumpass.

/content/films/4768/1.jpgThe sixth season of the long-running show South Park (eighteen seasons and counting) included an episode entitled "Simpsons Already Did It," bemoaning how the venerable animated sitcom The Simpsons (twenty-six seasons and counting) had been everywhere, done everything first. It's a notion that leaps to mind while watching The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, a TV-to-feature-film sequel that, while zany, feels as if its going through tired motions.

SpongeBob SquarePants may only have logged nine seasons and two films to date, but it's been on the cultural landscape since 1999. Over those sixteen years, Stephen Hillenburg's Nickelodeon series has remained popular with tykes even as it slid out of cultural prominence among adult animation fans. Now the sequel to 2004's The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie arrives to flog what feels like a dead (sea)horse. The film's promotion has centered around SpongeBob at last being in 3D, including sequences blending live-action footage and CGI-rendered 3D versions of the familiar 2D models (of one-dimensional characters). Guess what? Simpsons already did it (in 1995's "Treehouse of Horror VI").

More importantly, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water treads water with a plotline that's as old as the gills, and sadly accurate self-reflexive jokes about a protracted running time. Anchored as always by apple-cheeked sea sponge SpongeBob (Tom Kenny), the literally bubbly characters find their most basic plot scenario (fast-food competitor Plankton steals the secret recipe to the Krusty Krab's addictive Krabby Patty) dressed up with hyperbolic plot accessories, like a time machine and a climax shifting from under-the-sea Bikini Bottom to live-action-land Salty Shoals. (Our world holds a troublesome pirate named Burger Beard, played by a live-action, scenery-chewing Antonio Banderas.)

The film is often mildly amusing, with a dedicated zaniness (a food fight that's an excuse for lame puns: "Unleash the condiments!" "With relish"), wildly careening plot (Bikini Bottom dissolves into a "postapoca-watchamacallit"), and an overriding comic optimism (rainbows, lollipops, and needlepoint) playing into a nominal theme—complete with theme song—of teamwork. But really, Sponge Out of Water is about little more than fast food and ice cream, with the same promise of empty calories.

SpongeBob suffers from the same problem as the most indulgent of its psychedelic-comedy forebears: when anything can happen, narrative tension and sustained story interest get sucked out of the room; Sponge Out of Water is so arch as to make it impossible to care a whit about the characters or what will happen to them. In a 22-minute episode, that's one thing, but in a 92-minute movie... In the end, this sequel retains the series' pleasing weirdness, but the concept poop(-deck)ed out some time ago.

Share/bookmark: Digg Facebook Fark Furl Google Bookmarks Newsvine Reddit StumbleUpon Yahoo! My Web Permalink Permalink
Sponsored Links