The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water

SpongeBob SquarePants first appeared on TV way back in 1999.

He made his debut on the big screen 2004 and I can distinctly recall nothing about the movie but plenty about my little nephew’s excitement at being taken to it.

That little nephew now has 456 Facebook friends and is playing guitar in a grunge band somewhere in the back lanes of Sydney – and he wouldn’t be caught dead anywhere near SpongeBob’s latest incarnation.

Which begs the question – how does a studio (in this case Nickelodeon Movies) maintain a cartoon character’s relevance to an ever-changing market?

The short answer is it beats me. All I know is that I couldn’t get a seat at the first session that I rolled up for and was astounded to find that, when I did get to see it (in Lismore) it was still drawing good numbers well into its second week.

Unfortunately, this time around I was not accompanied by an enthusiastic grommet, so the experience was less than illuminating.

The secret recipe for SpongeBob’s renowned patties goes missing and SpongeBob and his crew need to leave Bikini Bottom and venture into the ‘real world’, ie, move among real humans rather than animated ones to set matters right.

With rapid dialogue and helter-skelter plot development, the adventure hurtles along at a pace frantic enough for me to wonder if the kids around me were doing any better than I at keeping tabs on all that was going on.

But that might possibly be the secret of this type of cartoon’s appeal, for it is genuinely whacky in the (vaguely remembered) childish sense of the word.

And it is not short of some terrific sight gags, too – I laughed out loud when, at the beach, they attempt to return a giant hairy porpoise (a man sunbathing) back to the water.

The overall effect is, if not quite exhilarating, upbeat enough to lift an adult’s spirits, but it is terribly sobering to see Antonio Banderas acting with cartoon drawings

~ John Campbell

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