Puns, slapstick and an inconsequential plot

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (G)


Rarely has a character so endeared itself to children in recent years than SpongeBob Squarepants but I’m dubious that this movie will copper-fasten his appeal.

It moves at a fast and furious pace throughout and is directed by Paul Tibbitt (who also co-wrote it) as if he’s running for a train but it’s far too cluttered with arcane subplots and stop-go asides to give it any kind of definition. I also found it difficult to empathise with the convoluted predicaments or eccentricities.

The plot basically concerns the theft of a food formula from the Krusty Krab and the efforts of SpongeBob and his nemesis Plankton to retrieve it. Right off I would have told the makers that this plotline was a mistake. You’re tempted to say: Who cares?

The other main problem is that the animation (brilliant and all as it is in 3D) is mixed in with ‘real’ footage. This ploy works in some films but here it’s forced and contrived.

Antonio Banderas plays the villain of the piece. He resembles a refugee from Pirates of the Caribbean. He gives it his all but in my view he’s in the wrong movie. There’s too much perspiration and not enough inspiration.

Many of the jokes in the film revolve around food. In many ways it’s like a hymn to gluttony – not a very good idea in an age plagued with obesity, especially among the young.

Medical experts frequently tell us that this era is one in which children will pre-decease their parents due to this problem and its attendant diseases, like diabetes. The last thing we should be doing is ‘feeding’ into such a lifestyle.


There are many comments and scenarios involving grown-up lingo. I can’t see the point of using words like ‘post-apocalypse’ in a children’s film. Okay, so they’re trying to rope in us adults too, but could they not find a subtler way to do it?

I watched it at a screening with about a hundred children present. Sad to say, the only laughter I heard was from a fortysomething sitting opposite me. I think the poor man was trying his best to enthuse a bored son. The other children present seemed stunned into silence by the zany pacing.

It’s edifying to see the sophistication of the modern child being pandered to by frenetic films like this but we should also realise that children still are children, no matter how clued in they are to technology. I’ve often been amused to be at a film like this to notice that the best laugh from the audience comes when a character bonks his head off a low roof, or slips on a banana skin.

Instead of such old-fashioned staples, here we get British seagulls, an overplayed ‘Teamwork’ theme (with one mediocre song) and a lot of would-be smart-alecky verbiage that will probably be lost on the average child. The script and screenplay involved no less than five people. The great director Billy Wilder used to say that the more people involved in a script, the worse it usually turns out to be. I agree with him.

The film worried me from the first scene, which seemed a bit tasteless for a family film featuring a skeleton falling about the place.

We witness things like Plankton going inside Spongebob’s head to sample one of his dreams  and a lot of guff about time travel which lost me. 

Who thinks up these oddall concepts? I have this vision of a bunch of super-trendy whizzkids in LA who probably know a lot about animation but precious little about child psychology. Thanks but no thanks.