It is a given now a days that a sequel will not live up to what came before. Only a few franchises can claim that the quality was consistent from picture to picture. This is especially the case when it comes to sequels coming about long after the initial entry. In that case it means the movie was a total cash grab and there are the tiniest of threads to link the other film. While the next entry involving a sponge named Bob, who wears squared pants, might not be labeled as a “cash grab”; The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water completely misses the mark of what made the franchise great.
In this outing we find Spongebob Squarepants desperately searching for the Krabby Patty secret formula while his hometown of Bikini Bottom literally goes to a Mad Max style dystopia. Along the way he gets help from the most unlikely of sources, fights an entrepreneur pirate (played by Antonio Banderas), and for some reason turn into a superhero in a CGI-filled finale. Despite being released in theaters this does not feel like a movie despite the plot’s scope. This feels more like a special, ninety minute episode that’s barely structured. It definitely has a pacing issue because this movie just drags, and drags, and then drags some more.
You get the feeling of this being a long form episode because of how bland the animation is. This is not a terrible looking movie by having the usual timing of the gags, lush colors, and some instances of style. It is such a step down though from what we saw in 2004’s The Spongebob Squarepants Movie. Not only that but this film is loaded with CGI, whether it be the final act or throughout, that looks so fake it takes you out of the movie. This sequel also seems to think that just because one of the biggest scenes in the first film, a live-action climax, was so popular that meant we have to get more of it here. It is a wrong type of mindset to have when the series is known to use live action as little as possible to entertain.
At the end of the day though what makes this movie far inferior is that there is just no heart. While we get a series Director in Paul Tibbitt (with Mike Mitchell directing the live action) and have the creators shaping the story; this is written by people whose has no history with the franchise. Glenn Berger and Jonathan Aibel (of Kung Pu Panda fame) might have an outline of what makes a Spongebob story funny but most of the time the jokes sputter or are incredibly uncomfortable. This series is always known for having jokes for an older audience but some of these in this film are so inappropriate that Tom Kenny, as Spongebob, sums it up with the line: “That was really dirty…”.
It might seem funny to analysis a film called The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water but it is important as parents and fans to read this. While it has its moments and kids might find it entertaining it is ultimately disappointing to see such a drop off from the franchise’s 2004 film. There is no heart in this, the animation & plot feels too generic for a feature, and the new writers do not seem to understand why Spongebob is such a hit for all ages. Again it is a given that sequels usually do not hold a candle to their forerunners. With ten years though you would think Sponge Out of Water would have had more than enough time trying to break that precedent.