Anarchy Rules with Spongebob.
There’s a lovely anarchic mood to the new SpongeBob movie; but there’s also an underwhelming tinge of familiarity. Kids and carers will love it: it’s big-screen, 3D and often very funny indeed, writes Colin Dibben.
Nickelodeon TV’s hit cartoon character SpongeBob (Kenny) lives with his friends at the bottom of the sea, in a community called Bikini Bottom. SpongeBob works at a fast food outlet called The Krusty Krab, an establishment whose signature dish is the hi-fat, highly addictive Krabby Patty. When the Krabby Patty recipe is stolen, suspicion falls on Plankton (Mr. Lawrence) the proprietor of The Chum Bucket, an unsuccessful competing business. But SpongeBob intuits differently: one page torn from an old leather-bound volume has drifted down through the waves and provides a clue to the identity of the thief.
Idiotically optimistic SpongeBob and his chums build a time machine to retrieve the recipe but that effort goes shell up; so there’s nothing for it but to leave Bikini Bottom and journey to the land above the waves in search of fiendish pirate Burger Beard (Banderas).
The SpongeBob approach reminds me of a more family-oriented Ren & Stimpy: this is cynical humour that embraces its own uncritical inner idiot, thereby both having its cake and eating it. As you’d expect, there are some really good weird and funny moments here as well as life lessons for those that need them.
Highlights include: Bubbles the Talking Dolphin, a Guardian of the Galaxy voiced by Matt Berry in Patrick Stewart mode – he wins the WTF! prize in the movie as he comes from nowhere and is totally wiggy; the Mad Max style post-apocalypse vision of Bikini Bottom without Krabby Patties; Plankton’s trip into the icky-sweet insides of Spongebob’s mind.
On the minus side, there’s Banderas’ interactions with some weakly characterized seagulls; the sequence in which our heroes become three dimensional characters with superhero personae – which goes on way too long; and a feeling that many of the joke targets are a bit familiar, for example sugar rush, teamwork, over-consumption.
But the good humour of the SpongeBob spirit drives all before it – you’d have to be a total hard bastard not to love this movie.
Dir. Paul Tibbitt, US, 2015, 92 mins
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Carolyn Lawrence, Clancy Brown, Mr. Lawrence
Review by Colin Dibben
Rating: Four stars