April 5, 2015
The first SpongeBob Movie (2004) was the first time I was formally introduced to the zany undersea world of SpongeBob Squarepants and his crazy friends. The complex plot recounted SpongeBob and Patrick accepting a mission to recover King Neptune's lost crown, while Plankton was hatching a diabolical mind-control plot to take over all of Bikini Bottom. It featured guest voices from Alec Baldwin (as the hitman Dennis) and Scarlett Johansson (as the cute Princess Mindy), and a hilarious cameo by David Hasselhoff (as himself). I loved it as much as my kids did for its quirky sense of humor and memorable one-liners. We would watch it over and over again on home video.
It was with so much anticipation that we watched "Sponge Out of Water," only the second SpongeBob movie for cinematic release in 10 years. Alas, I think we may have set our bar of expectation too high. My kids and I were rather disappointed with how this one turned out.
A pirate named Burger Beard (Antonio Banderas) reads a story written in a magically self-fulfilling book to his seagull audience. It was about the mysterious disappearance of the Secret Formula of the Krabby Patty that caused Bikini Bottom falls into wild apocalyptic disarray. Once the gang discovered the magic that made the formula vanish, SpongeBob and friends use it to launch a super-powered Avengers-like attack to recover that precious piece of paper and restore their beloved Bikini Bottom back to normal.
The trademark SpongeBob sense of wacky silly humor is still there and all, but I cannot help but compare this film with the first film and feel let down. For me, the problem is the very simplistic plot that was stretched out beyond its reasonable limit. Several side plots were employed to prolong the events, like time-traveling via a photo-booth and meeting Bubble the cosmic dolphin, which did not really lead anywhere. The funny parts only elicited smiles and snickers from us, not all-out guffaws we had with the first one. The superhero personas of the Bikini Bottom crew, which was the climactic fun highlight of this sequel, had too short of a screen appearance. The live actor guest star Antonio Banderas was no David Hasselhoff when it comes to self-deprecating humor.
Overall, it was still a good time in the movie house for the whole family. I just wished the ten years that passed between the first movie and this sequel could have given creator Stephen Hillenburg and director Paul Tibbitt to come up with an original story with more sophisticated plotting, rather than this one with a conveniently easy "magical" device that lazily drove it towards the happy ending we all expect. 5/10.