This second SpongeBob film doesn’t do anything new to justify the trip to the big screen, unlike the South Park and Simpsons films…or the first SpongeBob movie for that matter.
Once again Plankton tries to steal the Krabby Patty formula, in a slightly more dramatic fashion than usual. Then it disappears from thin air and Bikini Bottom becomes a post-apocalyptic zone. SpongeBob believes Plankton is innocent, so he shields him from the backlash. There’s a live action thing going on at the same time where we see that the Krabby Patty formula was actually stolen by some pirate who finds this book that makes any text that is written in it become reality.
If this film was split into a few episodes it would work just fine. None of your favourite faces do anything out of character, there is no jump the shark moment and humour is just as random and light-hearted as always. So it does stay very true to the show. But, even if that was the case, maybe I’m just older, but the jokes aren’t as funny or memorable as the first movie, and there’s no believable character development or any emotional hooks. The live action segments with the pirates and the annoying seagulls are unfunny and feel like filler, as if to show the audience “yo, it’s not just a few episodes stuck together, we have this big thing going on!”
Then later on, SpongeBob and friends become superheroes out of water, which judging by the marketing campaign (and the subtitle!), you’d think was the premise of the entire movie, but nope it’s in the second half. It seems like they were band wagoning on The Avengers or Big Hero 6.
The first movie was great not just because it was funny, but because it led SpongeBob and Patrick on an epic journey to find King Neptune’s crown; not only to restore order, but for SpongeBob to show that he’s more than just a kid. That was the emotional hook. And spoiler alert for that film, but SpongeBob and Patrick end up reaching the surface, and, thinking they are about to die, felt satisfied that they at least found the crown. That always stood out for me. In Sponge out of Water, they again go back to the surface, but they don’t do anything interesting with the superhero concept or the characters.
This movie is not bad, but it does reek of corporate fulfilment. In short, Sponge out of Water feels like the new Simpsons episodes – it’s short on new ideas, repeating the old ones and exists just because it can, not because it should. But maybe that doesn’t even matter, because I’m sure the kids will enjoy it anyway. I just realised the last movie came out 11 years ago, when I was 11 years old, back when I was still the target audience. That is something to keep in mind, SpongeBob may not be for me anymore – it’s for kids, and they could see a lot worse.