Thursday, 9 April 2015

Spongebob Squarepants; Sponge Out of Water

This was one of those deal where we ironically announced that we were going to see Spongebob instead of Fast and Furious 7 because we wanted to see something more mature. 

Turns out that Sponge out of Water isn’t a kid’s movie. Sure, there were kids at it - I think we might have been the only adults not chaperoning some tiny people - but I never saw an animated movie make less of an effort to talk to its alleged audience. This wasn’t the usual deal of a kid’s movie with plenty of pop culture references to keep the adults from falling asleep; this was by, for and about adult stoners. Adult stoners with a tiny attention span; Sponge out of Water is not so much a coherent narrative as a whole bunch of short bits that get thrown up on the screen one after the other. John grumbled that there wasn’t enough plot for a real kids’ movie; I think with small enough kids it mightn’t matter that nothing lasts more than a few minutes.

Which is not to say it’s not fun; it’s just not what we expected; not even what the trailer promised. If you go on the trailer, you expect Antonio Banderas to be a strong part of the movie all the way through; the reality is that he’s there at the beginning, setting up the story (well, setting up A story which promptly gets ignored for most of the movie), and he’s there at the end once the characters finally get onto dry land, but he’s pretty much absent for most of the action. The two big players are Spongebob and Plankton; Banderas’ Burger Beard is just a sideshow. 

If you dial your coherence expectations down a bit, it’s a lot of fun; there are all kinds of clever bits along the way. Best single sight gag is Spongebob and Patrick going out of their minds on candy floss “You could run around the world on this much sugar!” they yell, and then they cut to Spongebob and Patrick running around every landmark you can imagine until the camera pulls out and you can see that all the backgrounds have been Scotty and Squidward flipping through the postcards on a rack. I was thinking “simple genius” and then I remembered that it was all CGI and stop frame animation and it was probably anything BUT simple. There’s a great extended setpiece as Plankton attacks the Krusty Krab, and lots of other fun little bits scattered through. Yet it all felt like one of those movies they made so often in the 70s when they strung a load of sketches together until they had it up to movie length, and then hit print.

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