But his pants are not actually square…

It takes a kid’s movie to skewer the all-American obsession with fast food. The lined up droves of drooling customers, the sloppy cashier, the gluttonous, greedy owner, and that small diner next door scrounging for scraps against the unrelenting Krabby Patty machine. SpongeBob popped up in 1999, and slowly, has increased his relevancy as an underpaid and comically happy fast food line cook. What luck. There are a lot of fans of this show and the movie itself. From kids to adults, no one can resist singing the ever so catchy Spongebob Squarepants theme song.

Bikini Bottom is an irreverent place. In cinemas, more so. There are stop motion dolphins, 2001-like time travel, superhero sponges, and Antonio Banderas mocking himself as much as this movie. Real world, non-real world (is any of this real world?); Sponge Out of Water goes everywhere. No joke is too stupid. No leap is too large. No fear. Ever.

Mayhem is propelled at a rate to capture the attention span of anyone

Any system with this level of gung-ho attitude will find itself failing. There are cliches and hokey actions everywhere. Occasionally Sponge Out of Water nails one or does the unexpected as SpongeBob searches for the now missing secret recipe to Krabby Patties. Mostly it’s pedestrian. By the time Bikini Bottom’s inhabitants are no longer on the bottom, it’s constant chaos. Mayhem is propelled at a rate to capture the attention span of anyone and so lacking in rules in this world, any tension is voided. The writers can and will make something up to find a solution.

That’s sort of the point though, right? Who would watch SpongeBob if there were rules? For the sake of cinemas, Sponge Out of Water turns the SpongeBob formula into a cyclone of idiocy. Key characters play into their roles, the banality of movies is often the jumping point, and seeing this society – or whatever Bikini Bottom is – fall into a pit of apocalyptic tropes over the lack of fast food is the most wonderful, socially observant means of approaching this content. A bit of SpongeBob resides in us all, mostly in the form of a Big Mac or Whopper. Many Big Macs and many Whoppers.

Trailers mostly provide images of a beach bod SpongeBob and pals in our reality. Note this is only a fraction of the finished film. Most is identical in visual “intensity” to the TV show. Though, as an aside, seeing hand drawn animation live on theater screens is (sadly) a blessing now. Not one to waste an audience, Nickelodon perks up the material with rapid introductory points, explaining the ‘Bob universe for newcomers to suck them into the grips of this “sort of for kids but not really” franchise. From there, it’s splendid entertainment. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Movie]

Searching for the formula @ 56:53

With most of this movie locked to bold, solid colors and strict outlines, the idea of detail is almost wiped. It’s sharp instead. That is just as good. Backgrounds though have notable textures. The style has a dot-by-dot look which on Blu-ray is a joy to see. Familiar images appearing compression-free raises them miles above cable or online streaming.

Connecting points to the real world match the color saturation of Bikini Bottom. It’s almost excessive. The title logos are so red as to almost topple over into a bleed. When the SpongeBob crew breaks free from their underwater home into superhero form, the same saturation applies. Reds and blues reach extreme levels. Coupled with the contrast, this is even crazier to see, pushing the limits of any set. Uncalibrated displays will project images near blinding in intensity.

As for the live action plates, these are also pleasing to the eye in their extreme ways. Flesh tones carry deep tans appropriate to the beach shenanigans. Close-ups of Banderas are sharply resolved. Clarity is never challenged. If it is black levels you seek, they shall be found. The interior of the food truck is full of shadows.

As a 3D presentation, the live action could readily be labeled “essential.” The standard animation? That too actually. Seeing this show sprout from its 2D broadcast into this lovely 3D is joyous. Attention is paid to foreground objects as much as it is to typical conversations. Characters frequently separate into fore/background positions to maximize the level of depth. If they don’t, the various designs and locations they’re standing in provides plenty of opportunity to add depth. Characters themselves have 3D life too, from SpongeBob’s nose to Plankton’s spherical form. They appear alive – or at least as far as their designs let them.

Into our existence? Brilliant. Action exploits the format at each turn. Characters bounce upward into the frame, fly in front of it, and toss objects. Birds swirl about and a pirate ship is launched repeatedly forward into the screen. Is this excess? Yes, all of it. Note this is not cheeky or unnecessary, at least in consideration as to how 3D can be considered necessary. The attempt to maximize depth is legitimately fascinating to see, produced without any cross-talk. [xrr rating=5/5 label=2D-Video] [xrr rating=5/5 label=3D-Video]

Loaded with LFE opportunity, Sponge Out of Water is definitely boomy. Explosions, exploding mayonnaise, doomsday robots; each is spectacular in their weight. The finale unloads a series of cannon balls at full force with flying Bikini Bottom-ians (?) using their uber powers at full low-end strength.

Oddly, the surrounds are drastically underutilized – even non-existent. All of this flying and wrapping around the screen produces menial activity. The 7.1 mixing is wasted. There are instances however. Some water rushing, seagulls squawking, bubbles panning through; these are lonely highlights. This track is anemic in keeping up with the level of action. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]

Over on the 3D disc, there is a finished deleted scene (in 3D, obviously) which stands as the lone extra. It’s a tough cut. This musical sequence is a blast. The 2D side holds 13 more deleted/extended scenes, with a rarity for this disc: A “play all” option. Nothing else is given one. That frustrating streak begins with On the Surface, a six-part making of (sort of) focusing on effects, voice work, and other broad topics. Underwater Awesomeness is more on the educational side of the creatures used in the film. There are three parts here. No play all. Bikini Bottom Boogie offers three song segments… and no play all. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Extras]

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.


Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.

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