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The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water
3.5/5
dir Paul Tibbitt
prd Mary Parent, Paul Tibbitt
scr Glenn Berger, Jonathan Aibel
with Antonio Banderas, Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Mr Lawrence, Clancy Brown, Matt Berry, Rodger Bumpass, Carolyn Lawrence, Jill Talley, Paul Tibbitt, Mary Jo Catlett, Dee Bradley Baker
release US 6.Feb.15, UK 27.Mar.15
15/US Paramount 1h33
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water
A whole new world: Patrick and SpongeBob (above), Banderas (below) The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

See also:
The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (2004)
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The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water Utterly bonkers, this animated comedy sees SpongeBob SquarePants propelled into the live-action world in strikingly rendered 3D. Everything about this film is ridiculous, from the pun-packed script to the raucous action mayhem. And like the cartoon series, it's likely to entertain adults with its brainy humour while kids giggle at the wackiness.

When the secret recipe for the addictive Krabby Patty is stolen, triggering an apocalypse in the undersea town of Bikini Bottom, the obvious villain is fast-food rival Plankton (Mr Lawrence). But Krabby Burger fry-cook SpongeBob (Kenny) knows Plankton didn't steal it, so he sets out on a quest with his pals: airhead starfish Patrick (Fagerbakke), boss Mr Krabs (Brown), oblivious Squidward (Bumpass) and frantic squirrel Sandy (Carolyn Lawrence). With help from the galactic-guardian dolphin Bubbles (Berry), they'll have to head above the surface to stop crazed pirate Burger Beard (Banderas).

Director Tibbitt seamlessly combines the usual cartoon scenes with lavish digital animation in which this band of misfits gains superpowers (just go with it) to confront the real-life Banderas, hamming it up for all he's worth. There isn't a single plot point that makes sense, as the screenwriters pack the story with deus ex machina elements that inexplicably solve every corner the script writes itself into. This requires the requisite sequences, including several frantic chases building up to an epic showdown.

The movie is so insanely freewheeling that it ignores every rule of animated storytelling to spiral off into absurd silliness. The animators have a field day with all of these crazy story elements, from a photo-booth time machine and the post-apocalyptic Bikini Bottom to a set of superpowers that reveals just how unimaginative and safe Big Hero 6 played it. At several points this overpacked film threatens to tip over into incomprehensible idiocy, but the script is much smarter than it looks.

Along with the hilarious wordplay ("Release the condiments!" "With relish!") and nonstop movie references, Berger and Aibel's screenplay gets so meta that it inverts in on itself. They also pepper the movie with riotously pointed gags (SpongeBob gets so upset at one point that he mixes the garbage with the recycling). And underlying everything is a subtle message about refusing to jump to paranoid conclusions while working together to solve problems. This is a message the grown-ups need just as much as the kids.

cert u themes, violence, innuendo 22.Feb.15

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