The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water (2015)

Sponge Out Of WaterHaving found the novelisation on a desert island, Captain Burger-Beard (Antonio Banderas) rewrites the story so that he might acquire the Krabby Patty recipe from the Krusty Krab. In Bakini Bottom, meanwhile, SpongeBob (Tom Kenny) and Plankton (Mr Lawrence) are blamed for its disappearance from the vault, and as the underwater town — starved of its favourite food — descends into leather-clad chaos they set off in search of the missing recipe. First, they travel forward in time to meet Bubbles (Matt Berry), a magical dolphin tasked with watching over the cosmos, before venturing out of the sea along with Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke), Squidward (Rodger Bumpass), Sandy (Carolyn Lawrence) and Mr Krabs (Clancy Brown), where Burger-Beard awaits, now serving Krabby Patties of his own from his pirate-ship-turned-food-truck.

Despite its deceptively singular title, The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water isn’t the Nikelodeon icon’s first foray into feature film, having previously appeared in 2004’s The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie — most notable for starring David Hasselhoff as a human jet-ski. It could easily stand on its own, however, serving as an introduction to the surreal, nonsense world of Bakini Bottom while also telling a relatively self-contained story that is likely to appeal to franchise novices and fans of the longstanding television show — now on its ninth season — alike. It’s a special film for a number of reasons, not least for combining hand-drawn, computer-generated and stop-motion animation with live-action sequences, and for being one of very few to target individual territories with customised recordings. As with Studio Ghibli there is a UK-only voice cast, with the likes of Alan Carr and Stacey Soloman providing the voices for Burger-Beard’s seagull entourage.

Mostly, however, it’s performed by the same actors who have played the characters since the series premiered back in 1999, and while the seagulls may begin to grate the main cast remain an inexhaustible delight. Kenny in particular delivers his apparently endless parade of one-liners with a practiced hand, such that every one of them feels like an extension of a long-running gag even when most were likely written or improvised for the movie itself. Fagerbakke and Bumpass are just as consistent, and though somewhat sidelined for the second act (if such standard structural language can even be applied to writer-director Paul Tibbitt’s non-conformist creation) they more than make up for their respective absences whenever they are onscreen — the only thing Patrick and Squidward have in common is that they are both the best character. The biggest surprise, however, is franchise newcomer Matt Berry, who makes such a large impression as Bubbles the dolphin that it’s hard to imagine the extant series without him. Although his distinctive tones are familiar to British audiences thanks to his work on sit-coms The IT Crowd and Toast of London, it would be interesting to see what international audiences make of his work. Either way, he fits right in.

It’s doubtful that there has been a funnier animated film since Penguins of Madagascar last year, and the half and hour or so in particular is a veritable riot of food puns and visual humour (the BBFC certificate promises toilet humour, and the film delivers). Prior to the disappearance of the secret formula, Plankton mounts the latest in a long line of assaults on the Krusty Krab in a desperate bid to steal the recipe for his own flagging fast food establishment, The Chum Bucket. As he attacks first in a plane, then a tank, and finally a Planton-shaped robot the jokes become ever more inspired. The more seemingly obvious the gag, the funnier it seems played out, including one very fine example that sees SpongeBob reach for the phone to ask for Mr Krabs’ orders, only for a Krusty Krab customer — Sandy the sub-aquatic Squirrel — to request a Krabby Patty from the drive-through outside. The promotional material has focused on a plot development that sees SpongeBob and company transformed into superheroes, and though it actually only constitutes a small part of the film it is undoubtedly a comedic high-point. For their final confrontation with Burger-Beard they are given power over bubbles, ice cream and sour notes for one of the most hysterical and hilarious set pieces in years.

Like A Town Called Panic or The LEGO Movie, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water‘s genius lies in its certifiable insanity. In fact, given that the film starts with a sentient sponge living in a pineapple under the sea, even before the status-quo has been disrupted and normality compromised, it may even be too much, too fast, too weird. Whereas most animated films pitch a percentage of jokes over the heads of their young audiences for the benefit of adults, Tibbitt sends several out of reach of even their parents. Presumably for any space dolphins watching.

4-Stars

 

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

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