A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie: Sponge Out of Water stars the most famous talking sponge in popular culture. Like the Nickelodeon cartoon series on which it's based, the movie has occasional insult language ("jerk," "stupid") and exaggerated violence (basically everything Plankton does with weapons -- like guns and cannons -- and the threat of death to SpongeBob, who's offered as a sacrifice at one point). Some of the movie's humor will likely go over young kids' head (like the way everyone in "post-apocalyptic Bikini Bottom" wears Mad Max-like leather costumes, or when one of the gang accidentally lands on a sunbathing woman's back and she murmurs that it feels good), but kids will definitely get the bird poop and blowhole laser gags. SpongeBob isn't known for being educational, but the movie, like most of the shows, does stress the importance of teamwork and friendship.
What's the story?
In SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS: SPONGE OUT OF WATER, a pirate (Antonio Banderas) finds a buried storybook and scroll under the sea. Back on his ship, he tells a flock of seagulls the story of the most beloved treasure in Bikini Bottom -- the Krabby Patty made by SpongeBob SquarePants (Tom Kenny). The story then shifts back undersea, where Plankton (Mr. Lawrence) relentlessly tries to steal the Krusty Krab's top-secret Krabby Patty recipe. He's foiled by SpongeBob, but when the real recipe disappears into thin air, even the world's best Fry Cook can't reproduce it from memory, and mass chaos erupts in Bikini Bottom. While Bikini Bottom residents deal with the catastrophe of life without Krabby Patties, SpongeBob and his friends Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke), Squidward (Rodger Bumpass), Sandy (Carolyn Lawrence), and Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown) head above the surface to find their missing recipe -- which is in the hands of the dreaded pirate.
Is it any good?
SpongeBob fans will love the trippy nature of their favorite underwater talking friends. The show's wild and unpredictable storylines and goofball antics are charming -- if difficult for those who aren't fans to understand or appreciate. The movie, like the show, is a frenzied and "out there" ... in other words, totally what you'd expect from the movie version of the show, except that the "out of water" experiences in the third act aren't nearly as lovable as the underwater scenes. Although the addition of Banderas as the movie's main antagonist is entertaining, it's the back-and-forth between SpongeBob and his archnemesis, Plankton, that's the best part of the story -- not the sight gag of the gang acquiring superpowers and heading to the beach.
Kids (and adults) eager to see their favorite supporting characters like Larry the Lobster, Pearl, Mrs. Puff, and even Gary should know that they're relegated to a brief cameo -- or, in the case of Larry, completely absent. This won't go over well with some fans, but the movie does have plenty of the evilly delicious Plankton, Karen (his hilarious "computer wife"), and the main Krusty Krab crew (plus Patrick, of course). Parents will get a particular kick out of the fact that Bikini Bottom civilization devolves into a post-apocalyptic state after the the Krabby Patty recipe is stolen and the fact that SpongeBob is nearly sacrificed to "the sandwich gods." And, naturally, there's the singing and silliness that makes SpongeBob F.U.N. Just don't expect the movie to supplant your favorite episodes of the series.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the enduring popularity of SpongeBob. Why do you think a sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea is so appealing to kids AND adults?
One criticism of SpongeBob is that it's not educational. Do you think animated shows and movies aimed at kids need to be educational?
There are a lot of SpongeBob-related merchandise and toys; does the movie make you want to get more of them? And do those items -- along with reruns of the show -- make you want to see the movie?
- In theaters: February 6, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: June 2, 2015
- Cast: Clancy Brown, Antonio Banderas, Tom Kenny
- Director: Paul Tibbitt
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Friendship, Ocean creatures, Pirates
- Run time: 93 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild action and rude humor
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.