Nickelodeon's popular cartoon show SpongeBob SquarePants has been running since 1999. SpongeBob has been around long enough that kids and teenagers have grown up watching him. There was a theatrical movie released in 2004, and now eleven years later another has been made. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (2015) champions some hilarious puns and gags while sporting a variety of very interesting art styles.
Up to his old tricks again, Krusty Krab rival Plankton (Mr. Lawrence) launches an attack against the fast food establishment to steal the Krabby Patty secret formula. Krusty Krab proprietor, Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown) and employees Squidward (Roger Bumpass) and SpongeBob (Tom Kenny) defend the restaurant with the help of SpongeBob's friends Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke) and Sandy (Carolyn Lawrence). But during the skirmish, the Krabby Patty secret formula vanishes. The residents of the underwater city of Bikini Bottom go crazy without Krabby Patties sending them in to a Mad Max style apocalypse. They believe that SpongeBob and Plankton were working together to steal the secret formula. The two are forced to team up and build a time machine to get the secret formula back before it disappears and end up in some weird places along the way including a time parallax were they meet a dolphin time wizard named Bubbles (Matt Berry). SpongeBob and Plankton's plan to save the secret formula fails, and all of Bikini Bottom wants to destroy SpongeBob. But when Mr. Krabs and SpongeBob smell Krabby Patties being cooked, the gang and stowaway Plankton, follow the sent to the water's surface where the dastardly pirate Burger Beard (Antonio Banderas) is selling Krabby Patties to families at the beach. With plenty of tricks up his sleeve, Burger Beard is a formidable opponent. Can SpongeBob recover the Krabby Patty secret formula and bring peace and Krabby Patties back to Bikini Bottom?
The story here is all over the place. The SpongeBob cartoons work great in eleven or twenty two minute stories. The writers don't seem adept in telling a story with these characters for longer than that time frame. It's as if the story in Sponge Out of Water were several 11 minute chunks of vaguely related story mashed together without any breaks. It starts off like many of the cartoons do with Plankton trying to steal the secret formula, then there's an "episode" that comically resembles a Mad Max parody, then another with wacky time travel antics. It's almost as if they had worked in pauses in the story for commercial breaks, but didn't actually have commercial breaks. This made the story rather disjointed and lacking in unifying theme. However, this is SpongeBob we're talking about, and it simply isn't interested in telling an complex or deep story; it's a bunch of silly nautical nonsense for the sake of being entertaining, silly nautical nonsense. And Sponge Out of Water does that really well.
The jokes, puns, and gags were brilliantly implemented. I laughed a whole lot at this movie. Some of the jokes were just plain stupid, but I still couldn't help laughing at them. Many of the goofy physical jokes were the same kind you'd see on the TV show. Most are so wacky and silly that describing them in words would sound ridiculous to say the least. Well, they are ridiculous, but without the rapid fire visuals, they would be weakened by a descriptive examples here.
In the cartoon show, any time characters go above water they are suddenly no longer animated. This is occasionally depicted as an ordinary kitchen sponge on a stick used as a puppet. A major part of this movie's advertisements was showing 3D CGI renderings of the characters interacting with a physical world after they go to the surface. Incidentally, this was only done in the latter fourth of the movie. But it was really well done! Even when interacting with live actors and physical props and sets, the character animation and how they interacted with the world around them was impressive. Earlier scenes such as the times when SpongeBob and Plankton are traveling between time periods featured some very trippy animation. The movie was available in 3D, and I imagine some of those borderline acid trips looked incredible in 3D.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water was pretty much what I expected it to be. A weak, disorderly story with lots of laughs. The jokes and puns were great, the cartoon physics (even in the "real world") were a hoot, and the wacky characters were fun. I got a kick out of it, but was growing bored with the disorganized story itself. The animation was better than it had reason to be; hosting a variety of 2D cell animation styles, some abstract animation, and some great CGI work. This is a good movie to watch with kids, though if you're not already a fan of SpongeBob, you probably won't enjoy it all that much. Kids will eat this up, though. I don't think it's quite worth the cost of a movie ticket. You may want to buy a copy if you have youngsters in the house, otherwise it's a renter.