The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

I like SpongeBob SquarePants, but a little of him goes a long way with me. Then again, I'm the parent of a six-year-old who will happily watch all-day marathons of the cartoon, even though they're comprised of the same episodes he's seen a million times. (In fact, he's watching the show as I write this.) The ubiquity of the character would test any parent's endurance after a while. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water runs a little less than 90 minutes, minus the end credits. It's the perfect length to enjoy without feeling perturbed. Bonus: the movie is really, really funny.

In a live-action intro, Antonio Banderas plays a pirate named Burger Beard who is in possession of a special book. Whatever is written inside this book magically comes true. Burger Beard uses it to steal the formula for Krabby Patties, those delightful treats that the residents of Bikini Bottom can't get enough of. SpongeBob and his friends Patrick, Mr. Krabs, Sandy, and Squidward attempt to track the pirate down to take it back.

There are two draws to Sponge Out of Water. The first is that, in the last 30 minutes, the characters come onto dry land and are rendered via computer animation for the first time. The other is that the movie is presented in 3D. Both of these things work very well, representing the ability to put a new, original spin on a well-known franchise. SpongeBob and Patrick came out of the ocean in the 2004 SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, but it was still done via traditional hand-drawn animation. In their new CGI form, the characters are capable of interacting with the real world in ways they never have before. A long sequence in which they transform into superheroes and chase Burger Beard throughout a coastal town is especially clever.

The 3D is more pronounced in the second half than in the first, but the film finds some magnificent uses for it. There are several delightfully trippy time-travel sequences that send the characters down psychedelic tunnels. On land, the battle against Burger Beard involves all kinds of things popping off the screen or flying through the air. Director Paul Tibbitt finds many creative uses for the 3D that add an extra layer of fun.

SpongeBob has always had a distinctly wacky, offbeat sense of humor. I didn't think it was possible for the franchise to take its brand of comedy to the next level, but Sponge Out of Water does just that. The concept and decision to use 3D have freed the filmmakers up to push their ideas further and to strive for new levels of silliness. There are many big laughs to be found here, for both adults and children. Be prepared: scenes involving a space dolphin are especially hilarious.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water finds a reason to come off the TV and onto the movie screen. I don't think the film will raise my tolerance level for large doses of the childlike creature, but more than fifteen years since his debut, he feels fresh once again.

( 1/2 out of four)

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water is rated PG for mild action and rude humor. The running time is 1 hour and 33 minutes.

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