Saturday 4 April 2015

Review: The SpongeBob Movie - Sponge Out Of Water

World of Blackout Film Review

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water Poster

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water (2D)
Cert: U / 93 mins / Dir. Paul Tibbitt & Mike Mitchell / Trailer
WoB Rating: 5/7

The thing is, you see, Nickelodeon released a SpongeBob movie back in 2004, which myself and Mrs Blackout got to see by virtue of having a 9yr old nephew who really wanted to watch it. Today however, he's 21, and Mrs Blackout isn't too bothered, so I just had to bite it and go on my own. Well, whatever.

In the undersea town of Bikini Bottom, the secret formula for Mr Krabs' Krabby Patties mysteriously disappears leading to despair and ruin of apocalyptic proportions. Burger-flipper SpongeBob Squarepants vows to retrieve the formula along with Patrick, Squidward and Sandy Cheeks, but the gang find they have to team up with their arch enemy, Plankton for the mission to be a success…

First things first, Sponge Out Of Water is every bit as gloriously silly as you want/expect/fear it to be (delete as applicable). If you think this movie probably isn't for you, it definitely isn't for you (although that's what trailers are for). The film is two-parts 2D animated adventure, and one-part live-action/CGI*1, with Antonio Banderas playing a pirate/cook, and helming a framing device in the form of a storybook which becomes interactive to the point of meta in the final act.

The film is aimed at a young audience of course, but the script is sharp and fast enough to keep the older ones smiling throughout. As well as the regular swath of double entendres which come bundled with the franchise, we also get a Shining reference and even a brush with Douglas Adams courtesy of an omniscient space-dolphin voiced by Matt 'Mighty Boosh' Berry. The film also features the use of a time-machine which, on balance, might actually be implemented better than anything in Project Almanac, and doesn't even make that big a deal about it.

If you're a fan of animation, daft humour and can handle the borderline-migraine that is Nickelodeon's output, there'll be things in The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water for you to enjoy. I could make a snarky comment about the mix-and-match of 'outdoor' shots which have clearly been filmed on a soundstage, or about the formula-bottle which changes size during the cannonball fight depending on which character's holding it, but it's not really that kind of movie. Oh.


When I arrived at my local to watch Get Hard the other day, the gentleman queuing in front of me was buying tickets for SpongeBob. A chap of early-to-mid fifties with a lad of about eight or nine. I only mention the gentleman's age because I couldn't work out if he was the boy's father or grandfather, it could have been either. That doesn't matter in itself, but the guy clearly wasn't in the target demographic for the SpongeBob movie and appeared to be less than enthusiastic (yet not resentful) about seeing it. What I'm saying is, with his look, demeanour and at 6pm on a Wednesday, he didn't appear to be A Saturday Dad, a mantle which could have explained what happened next.

It was the 'Amount Due' on the till-display which caught my attention. I'm used to queuing for annoying lengths of time at the cinema since there are apparently many people who arrive at that counter with no idea of what they fancy seeing, drinking or eating for the next two hours and have given it no prior thought, but this wait seemed to be connected with the till-display.

The adult and child tickets were a given, obviously. A coffee was placed on the counter along with the medium-sized cup of Coke/Fanta/Whatever. Then the youngster came over and put down his bag of pick-n-mix to be weighed. Then a bag of popcorn appeared and a bag of 'luxury' popcorn. Then a hot dog. For real. Whatever had happened, either these two hadn't eaten all day, or the gentleman just wanted to keep his charge quiet for two hours and had decided to spend £35 on a thing to distract him and plenty of things to keep him from chattering at the same time. Although naturally, if it's peace and quiet you're after, The SpongeBob Movie isn't a great starting point.

£35, though. Thirty five pounds. ($52 for those of you on the other side of the pond). That's around £23 an hour. You could get a half-decent plumber out for that. For just the two of them to watch a movie once, and more substandard food-imitation-products than you can shake a sickback at. This guy had weighed up the mid-week options, and had decided (or been persuaded), than SpongeBob was going to be a £35 movie. It's not. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but it's not worth £35; almost no film is, at least not at a bog-standard, non-premiere showing.

The pair made their way, laden, through to Screen 5 as I got my ticket for a bad Will Ferrell movie in Screen 4 and a coffee. With my Unlimited card covering the showing and giving me a discount, I paid £1.84 on Wednesday evening, although I still suspect I was more ripped off than the guy in front of me in the queue, somehow.

Thirty-five quid.


Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?
It's not, really (see above).

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?
If you've got little ones, it's a buyer. For everyone else, a one-off rental should do.

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
Banderas is comedically fantastic as ever, and SpongeBob is SpongeBob, so yeah.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
In spades.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
I won't.

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Not that I heard, but there is the hawk-screech and an "I have a bad feeling about this" reference.

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
Well, Mr Krabs is voiced by none other than Clancy Brown, Savage Opress in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. But it's also worth noting that Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob himself, also provided his talents for the Star Wars Angry Birds cinematic trailer..
(The Angry Birds franchise was officially licensed (obvs) and went on to feature the voice of Ian 'Palpatine' McDiarmid, so this is a direct-link in my book; Tom Kenny has worked on Star Wars. No, you shut up.)

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Yeah, technically the whole thing is 3D, but I only got to see a 2D showing. I can imagine the live-action sequences look amazing with the CGI characters, but that the 2D animation looks disconcertingly wrong with forced depth. But by all means tell me I'm wrong in the comments.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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