First --- full disclosure --- I have never seen an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants on Nickelodeon. And, after seeing this movie, I will never watch one. To the many devoted followers of SpongeBob and his underwater friends, this may come off as snobbish, or even sacrilegious, but, unlike many animated characters, I found nothing remotely funny or redeeming about these cartoon denizens.
The secret recipe has disappeared for the Krabby Patty, the dietary mainstay of Bikini Bottom, where SpongeBob and his companions reside, causing an apocalyptic blow. But SpongeBob (voiced by Tom Kenny) vows to retrieve the missing formula and restore life, as they know it, to Bikini Bottom.
Unbeknownst to the residents of the underwater town, a wicked pirate named Burger Beard, played in live action by Antonio Banderas, has been weaving a tale about SpongeBob and the fate of the Krabby Patty to a gaggle of seagulls on his ship. Does Burger Beard know what happened to the legendary recipe?
Combining animation and live action has been done many times before. But usually the animation sequences are equal in entertainment value to the live. In "Sponge Out of Water", co-writers Paul Tibbitt, who also directs the animation, and Stephen Hillenburg have crafted a rather dark, and decidedly unfunny, story about Bikini Bottom's near demise.
This comes off as potentially frightening for young children, rather than sweet and childish. The live action, directed by Mike Mitchell, with a story focusing on Burger Beard, is a great deal more enjoyable --- and fun.
Much of "Sponge Out of Water" is silly and non-sensical, but children, I'm sure, will be amused. Patrick's (voiced by Bill Fagerbakke) love of ice cream, as evidenced in the trailer, is pretty amusing, along with his desire for cotton candy and any other confectionary they find on land.
SpongeBob can be endearing --- eternally optimistic, for sure. But, as a whole, I found "Sponge Out of Water" totally unlikable, even with the delightful performance by Banderas, who had to work mighty hard against a blue screen --- alone. In one interview, he stated performing as Burger Beard, with the heavy hair and beard, and the solitary acting, was more difficult than portraying Zorro or his character in the "Desperado" franchise.
If your children insist upon seeing this film, hire a babysitter to take them, while you see one of the Oscar-nominated options still in theaters.
Opinion: Wait for DVD
Whoever was responsible for the trailer of this mostly animated movie about the iconic SpongeBob, my hat's off to them. I was fooled into thinking this would be inviting and fun. But I was duped.
Aside from a few clever moments in the opening live action sequences featuring Antonio Banderas (one of Jeanne's favorite actors), "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water" (hereafter known as "Sponge") is a real disappointment. The live action portion also features a group of very amusing talking seagulls which interact with Burger Beard (Banderas). Part of the plot has him reading a library book to the seagulls, and the inside left cover reveals an insert with the names of past borrowers, like Davy Jones (the pirate, not the Monkee), among others. Okay, I surmised --- this is a good start.
But after a few minutes, the movie abruptly switches to full animation, and rather primitive animation, at that. You could practically hear the collective sigh of the audience. As Jeanne always says, it's the writing that's critical in any movie. But screenwriters Glenn Berger and Jonathan Aibel ( Emmy winners for TV's "King of the Hill") missed the boat on both the storyline and jokes. It's one thing to write scripts for a 30-minute TV show (maybe only 22 minutes with commercials), and quite another for a feature length movie.
It may be un-American to diss "Sponge", and I don't have the advantage of having seen the prior SpongeBob film, entitled "The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie" (2004). But I can't recommend this 2015 version for any reason. Nevertheless, parents, if your young ones insist upon going to this film, send them with a chaperone. You can thank me later.
Opinion: Don't Bother!