SpongeBob SquarePants belongs to the same genus of entertainers as Soupy Sales, Stan Laurel and Pee Wee Herman. They’re sweet and unpredictable with a surreal streak that transcends silly and borders on high art.
For the uninitiated, SpongeBob (voice of Tom Kenny) is the star of his own wildly popular Nickelodeon show and looks like a bright yellow kitchen sponge with googly eyes and little brown shorts. The animated invertebrate lives in the underwater city of Bikini Bottom where he is a fry cook at Krusty Krab, the most successful restaurant in the sea.
“The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” begins on a usual day in Bikini Bottom. The Krusty Krab is packed with customers enjoying the signature Krabby Patty, a burger so delicious that when the top-secret recipe goes missing, resulting in the Great Krabby Patty Famine, Bikini Bottom is thrown into chaos. “Everything we have ever known has ben destroyed,” says SpongeBob. “Looks like we’ll have to change the name of Bikini Bottom to Dirty Bottom,” replies Plankton (Mr. Lawrence).
To save the town SpongeBob must team with an unlikely ally, rival restaurateur Plankton, to recover the recipe even if it means a trip to the surface.
This is a story involving time travel, human sacrifice, food trucks and a pirate named Burger Beard (Antonio Banderas) with a family friendly message about teamwork wedged in for good measure. It’s a fairly linear tale but told with a sense of anarchy that promises and delivers a mind-bending array of jokes and sea shenanigans.
It doesn’t feel quite as unhinged as 2004’s “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie”— which featured David Hasselhoff’s body hair as a plot point—and gets a little water logged when the characters hit land and turn into CGI creations, but it never loses its sense of silly whether it is above or below sea level.