The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water  is the bafflingly relevant sequel to the eleven-year-old The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, both encapsulations of the beloved Nickelodeon cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants. Offering a fun twist on a classic (secret) formula, the sequel pits its colorful heroes against a villain who isn’t Plankton.
One plot with cheese… to go. You’ll be amazed by how story-driven this movie is. Everything, every zany misadventure, every trans-dimensional acid-trip mind-blowing planet-crashing knee-slapper, grows out of a central situation that evolves based on how characters react to it. Isn’t that cool?! Characters actually change and learn! All this feeds the overarching suspicion that the movie is satirizing a genre while simultaneously embodying it.
Wait, you mean “parody,” right? Nope, satire. And subtle at that. The film’s live-action final act is driven by the fast-food tycoon pirate Burger Beard, played by Antonio Banderas (not a single word in that extraordinary sentence was a typo). It’s Banderas’ performance which gives the movie its statement: his overacting antics aren’t too far removed from his animated opponents, but he plays the scenery-chewer… straight. He embraces the low-hanging fruit and takes it seriously. To watch his character is to ponder the fine line between children’s entertainment and bad entertainment, and this kind of dynamic cannot be accidental. Sponge Out of Water is both celebrating and criticizing its own genre, all the while displaying an example of how to do it right.
Forget everything I just said. It’s funny. It’s just really funny. Gather all your friends (Are ya ready, kids?) and have a big bowl of nachos within easy reach, because this is a film with no slow-moving parts, no filler, and very few jokes that miss. The only familiar ground it treads is the jumping-off point into a new and profoundly bizarre territory. If you’ve ever wanted to see a cartoon protozoan vomit a sentient rainbow at the sight of a giant housecat, this movie was made with you in mind. If the sight of a random passerby being crushed by a falling tank (surrounded by French fries and pickles) doesn’t make you laugh, go watch the news.
Five stars for fans of the TV series, but for the non-believers…
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water