The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water review

Pants on fire.

GamesRadar+ Verdict

Next to message-laden, CG-soaked kids’ animations, SpongeBob stands alone. His return is a skittish but winning splash of nonsense: dip in.

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Pants on fire.

Like Ed Norton’s Fight Club fridge, SpongeBob’s first movie since 2004 has little of nutritional value – which is just the point. What it delivers is what it promises: a battery of deliciously daft, fast-firing, self-mocking, flavour-rich gags, flung with such zest you don’t mind if they’re disposable.

The opener sees High-seas rogue Burger Beard (Antonio Banderas, having fun) lifting an antique book from its skeleton guard. The tome relates a Bikini Bottom battle between malign restaurant-owner Plankton (Bill Fagerbakke) and cheery burger-flipper SpongeBob (Tom Kenny) over the perfect patty formula, a battle whose fallout includes the apocalypse, temporal paradox, planetary collisions and a word to chill Plankton’s core: teamwork.

If there’s a message there, Kung Fu Panda writers Glenn Berger and Jonathan Aibel are too canny to cave to it. Instead they wring every drop of goofy, trippy humour from the set-up until the near-anarchic mischief practically overflows.

Even if the visuals aren’t Ghibli/Pixar class, Paul Tibbitt’s resourceful direction marshals 2D surrealism and live-action larks energetically. The CG super-Sponge climax looks dry after the free-flowing 2D stretches, but peaks with a trip inside SpongeBob’s brain, some near-flying ’gulls and the letters of the word “Refunds” landing in your lap. If parents need fun for the kids this Easter, they won’t be asking for any of those.

More info

Theatrical release27 March 2015
Directors"Paul Tibbitt","Mike Mitchell"
Starring (voices)"Antonio Banderas","Tom Kenny","Bill Fagerbakke","Clancy Brown","Mr. Lawrence"
Available platformsMovie
Freelance writer

Kevin Harley is a freelance journalist with bylines at Total Film, Radio Times, The List, and others, specializing in film and music coverage. He can most commonly be found writing movie reviews and previews at GamesRadar+.