Review: The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

PLOT:When the secret recipe for the fabulous Krabby Patty mysteriously vanishes, it is up to SpongeBob and an unlikely alliance to save the day.

As someone who is only casually aware of the animated Nickelodeon character SpongeBob SquarePants, I wasn’t sure what to expect from his latest cinematic adventure. Yet once a swashbuckling Antonio Banderas arrives (in non-animated form) as a character named “Burger-Beard” who chats with singing birds, I was on-board. Director Paul Tibbitt has created a fresh and zany animated/live action mix that can be endearing to most audiences in the mood for goofy material. And even when he brings SpongeBob and pals onto shore, it still manages to keep the occasionally obnoxious charm of the yellow sponge to life. It may not necessarily have the magic of something like THE LEGO MOVIE, but it offers laughs aplenty throughout.

THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE: SPONGE OUT OF WATER begins with a shifty looking pirate attempting to steal a mysterious book from a very tiny island. The pirate in question is “Burger-Beard” (Banderas) who manages to take the book and set sail with a few birds who want to listen to his story. If you are a fan of the series, you are well aware that Plankton (Mr. Lawrence) is desperate to steal the formula for the life changing Krabby Patty from Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown) who owns the successful restaurant across from him – under the sea. This time around, Plankton almost snatches the recipe, but somehow it mysteriously vanishes from both Plankton and SpongeBob (who works for Mr. Krabs). This leads to Plankton and SpongeBob (Tom Kenny) having to work together to find the missing formula. After all, the little town of Bikini Bottom is a ROAD WARRIOR inspired hell hole without everybody’s favorite burger.

Having not grown up on SpongeBob, this strange world was mostly new to me. Sure there was familiarity with the characters that also include Patrick Star (Bill Fagerbakke) and Squidward Tentacles (Rodger Bumpass), but not much else. Yet that didn’t hinder my enjoyment in the adventures of the odd inhabitants of Bikini Bottom. What was most impressive was the humor. This is a very funny film that only resorts to fart jokes a couple times in an oh so innocent way. Much like SpongeBob himself, there is a cheerful nature in the way the comedy is presented. There is nothing cynical about it. Yet it generally avoids what happens with overly sappy animated flicks, ones that are far too sweet for their own good. At one point, we get inside SpongeBob’s brain to see what goes on and it includes super, duper amounts of sweetness, but it is all told in a sly humorous way. This scene says a lot about the huge heart that this character has.

The sense of fun is pretty infectious, especially if you see this with fans. And if you’ve seen the trailer, you are aware that at one point SpongeBob and pals look a bit like superheroes. To be honest, that was the only point in the preview that I felt might falter. Somehow though, it manages to work in the context of the film rather well, especially the delightfully dopey Patrick. Thankfully once the undersea gang are on land, it doesn’t wear out its welcome. At one point near the end of the film when it seems to be dragging slightly, there is even mention of it. This is very funny stuff. While not every joke or one-liner is a winner, it has an impressive ratio of what works as compared to what doesn’t. And Bandaras is having a blast here so fans of his will be thrilled.

So, shiver me timbers, THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE: SPONGE OUT OF WATER is a treat. This fine flick manages to have enough inside jokes and references to keep the parents laughing. It's a colorful film with a thin plot, but it ably transforms the Nickelodeon cartoon into a enjoyable and frenetic feature length film. While it is impossible to keep up with the outrageous pace it attempts to have, there is more than enough entertainment to keep everybody occupied. It may not be be the smartest animated flick out there, but with all the wildly weird happenings, and impressive 3D effects being flung out at you, it is absolutely entertaining. Simply put, SpongeBob rocks!


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JimmyO is one of’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.