As I will be covering the newest SpongeBob film in a separate review I thought it would be worthwhile posting my thoughts on the previous film from 2015. Originally written for the films theatrical release. The Sponge On The Run review is in draft and will be up within a few days.
There was a time when my younger twin brother and sister were obsessed with SpongeBob. Episodes of it recorded off the UK NickToons channel along with episodes of Fairly Odd Parents (who remembers that show) and with my brothers, Top Gear obsession (ironic considering Clarkson finally got what was coming to him for years yesterday as of writing this) clogged to the Sky+ endlessly. As much as I would like to admit that this reviewer was far too cool for something like SpongeBob at the time I watched the first film on DVD (but not necessarily the main series) more times than I care to admit. Ironically, kids that will go and see this new film were likely not even a sperm when the first film was released back in 2004. Before the marketing and trailers for this new film started coming out this reviewer was not even aware that SpongeBob was still being produced and still on the air. The marketing for this new film does not even mention that the previous film exists. Despite that, there was a certain amount of nostalgic value going into the screening of the new film for this reviewer.
The first thing to say regarding the new film’s content is that I was both impressed and disappointed by it in almost equal measure. I was impressed purely because the opening 15 minutes contained two genuinely hilarious extended jokes and at this point, I thought the film could be something truly special and perhaps this year’s big animated surprise (the prize that The Lego Movie took in 2014.) The film never really reaches the comedic highpoints of the opening 15 minutes throughout the rest of its 92 minutes running time. This is not to say there aren’t quite a few chuckles throughout the film’s remaining 70 minutes but there was a noticeable dip in quality from this reviewer’s perspective Some of the plotting feels somewhat stretched to fill the film’s obligation to be 92 minutes and therefore qualify as “feature-length.”
The thing every adult who goes to see the film will probably come out thinking is how much large portions of the film resemble the lucid dreams of a washed-out stoner. This type of staff does result in unquestionably some of the film’s best moments but it is so clear to anyone over the age of 12, that the writers were clearly on something where they dreamt up some of the film’s second act ideas. I will not spoil any of these plot elements or ideas as some of them are incredibly surreal and bizarre. These ideas could only be dreamt up by someone who was in a certain state of mind.
The film’s main live-action segment (if we exclude the hammy but entertaining live-action wraparound story where Antonio Banderas dresses up as a pirate and talks to a load of CG seagulls) is both its strength and its weakness. On the one hand, the subtitle of the film and the marketing would suggest that there is a lot more of the live-action/superhero stuff, then there is. In reality, the live-action segment where the SpongeBob characters enter the real world and become superheroes only takes up the last 20 minutes of the film. The rest is executed in the standard SpongeBob 2-D animation style (complete with nostalgic bubble. scene transitions.) Because the main live-action segment represents only 20 minutes of the actual film you have quite literally seen all the live-action jokes in the film’s marketing. Some of the jokes in the superhero/live-action segment are pretty funny, but this reviewer questions whether he would have laughed at them harder had he not seen them all in the film’s marketing.
Overall though, the film is an entertaining and memorable (for the stoner elements) experience. Without question, the film’s opening 15 minutes are its best, but the film does not suddenly fall off a cliff after this. Some of the plotting does feel a bit stretched and the final live-action segment may alienate some viewers (due to pretty much all l of this segment being featured in the marketing) but this film is still surprisingly entertaining for anyone looking for a nostalgic trip or just an entertainingly trippy experience.