Ages 11 and under
In-Your-Face Kid’s Comedy
Nine seasons and two movies and billions of dollars in merchandising later, we still can’t get this optimistic sponge out of our minds. We still love the porous protagonist’s contagious laughter and the dimwitted laziness of his sea star friend. We still long for days in our youth when we could venture to Bikini Bottom in our minds to eat a Krabby Patty, catch some jellyfish, annoy Squidward, play karate with an underwater squirrel, and lounge out at Goo Lagoon. Now finally, in The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, these immortal friends of ours come to life in a modern meshing of computer technology and live action, rendered in colors and textures fresh enough for you to almost reach out and touch these icons you’ve come to love.
The result of this sequel to the first SpongeBob movie is a step up from the recent seasons. However, it’s still not as good as those first three seasons. Instead of quotes that we could easily generate relatable memes from, this movie relies too heavily on bland songs and unnecessary pop culture references to duplicate the same charm that made SpongeBob and his friends famous.
The plot of nautical nonsense is treated like an extra-long episode of the show, starting with a pirate’s quest to retrieve a magical book that tells about this Sponge’s story. First, the Krusty Krab and the Chum Bucket engage in a food fight with potatoes and pickles, then all the Krabby Patties disappear along with the secret formula, then Burgerbeard the Pirate, with his trusty book of storytelling, is serving these patties as “Beard Burgers” in his ship/food truck on the beach.
But all the other fish blame Plankton for this thievery, treating him way more like scum than would be socially acceptable. SpongeBob decides to clear Plankton’s name, and find the Krabby Patty formula, by means of time travel, before this cyberpunk post-apocalyptic black leather Bikini Bottom turns them both over as a living sacrifice to restore the patties themselves (yes, you read that right).
All of the crazy psychedelic scenarios of SpongeBob’s quest stems its logic entirely by the jokes, which create both the movie’s greatest strength and greatest drawback. For the most part the jokes land in laughter for audiences young and old, but they at the same time halt any personal connection with anybody. Remember in the older episodes when any moments of stupidity actually developed the drama and character? (Example: Is mayonnaise an instrument?) Here, there’s nothing that quite matches that.
The characters also feel much less human (or would that be “aquatic?”) than they used to be. Patrick gets none of the funniest moments, but instead is just a vessel for overused jokes toward ice cream and sleep. Squidward gets no real time to shine, besides being egotistical. Mr. Krabs never has a chance to express his love for money. Sandy is just crazy here, like she was (is) in the bad phase of the show.
But SpongeBob and Plankton are still plenty memorable, as they get plenty of time together to sing about teamwork (or Te-AM-work as Plankton calls it). It works because unlike the short-on-heart Plankton, SpongeBob is always so optimistic with his bubble blowing and cotton candy imagination. It’s now easy for me to see why he’s lasted in our media as long as he has—after all, he’s the only pure soul left in a real-life world gone nuts over all things trashy.
It’s just too bad that this can’t capture the same energy it had in the years 1999-2004. I mean, all the elements are there for a needed reboot of the series: live action, special effects, a Squidasaurus Rex, but the CGI-filled parts marketed so vigorously don’t actually come up until exactly an hour into the movie. Then it’s just twenty wasted minutes of exploration on the surface world, which causes us to question: why should I care if they get this Krabby Patty formula back from Burgerbeard?
Maybe if the story boarders spent less time making jokes about a Claymation watcher dolphin named “Bubbles” who’s held his bladder for 10,000 years (no, I’m not making this up), and more time delivering what they wanted to do in this film, then the end product would not feel like a ninety-minute commercial for the television series.
The naïve cube has touched all sorts of people in different ways with his optimism, humor, and colorful underwater world. While most people would have seen him as a fun show to watch after school, I as somebody on the autism spectrum actually saw him as a close friend I could make conversations with.
From when I was probably four years old up until I was in middle school I had a habit of running around the room and speaking my thoughts out loud. It was my way of coming up with stories in my head to pass the time, and doing it through kinesthetic movement was how I did it best. My parents may have felt inconvenienced by it, but they always let me do it as they knew it was therapeutic for me.
The kinds of thoughts I would have when doing this would mainly involve characters from my favorite movies or TV shows in my own stories of imagination that I would process in my head. By running around the room, I would think of my own episodes of Blues Clues, an adventure down a volcano for Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends to go on, and Goldilocks and the Three Bears reenacted by SpongeBob characters. I would spend hours doing this type of activity, and for years I would prefer doing this over playing confusing sports games or having to socialize with friends.
Six-Word Lessons for Dads with Autistic Kids, Lesson #38: Beware Some Sports Will Frustrate Him.
Six-Word Lessons for Dads with Autistic Kids, Lesson #40: Recess Isn’t All Fun and Games.
Yet I fortunately grew out of this habit, and the closest thing to it I do now is go on walks (I even go jogging without listening to music, my thoughts are the only background noise I need). But I still verbally express my thoughts to myself, as like others, I can’t process my thoughts unless I hear them.
What I got the most out of running around the room and letting my imagination spin was essentially spending quality time with the friends I made through the television set. I was fully aware that SpongeBob does not exist, but because I had more of an intimate understanding for a cartoon character than I did for actual people, I turned to him more than human beings for somebody to talk to. It’s like how small children would have imaginary friends, only this time, I had an already established personality who I could revisit in front of the TV every night at 8:00.
In turn, a fictional character like SpongeBob understood me better than anyone in my family or school did. It wasn’t like I had to talk about my problems or concerns with others in order for them to understand me, SpongeBob already knew (or at least in my mind he did). Instead of speaking with an unpredictable person distanced from my experience, it was easier for me to spend time with a yellow sponge who always has a smile on his face. Especially when puberty hit me, having a longtime friend with square pants by my side gave me a sense of comfort.
Six-Word Lessons on Growing up Autistic, Lesson #51: There’s Always the Feeling of Loneliness.
I said in my youth that I would never grow out of SpongeBob, and so far, I have stayed true to my word (but don’t worry—I still make room for more adult things in the mix)!
- Don’t shame somebody with autism because they still hold on to a television show or movie from their youth. These fictional characters mean a lot more to them than you will ever realize.
- Use these fictional characters obsessed over by your autistic child as a stepping stone toward real life relationships. Let them know that they can’t always be with this fictional character, and maybe use a physical doll of that character to represent when it’s okay and not okay to bring them up.
- If you’re autistic and struggle to make friends, think about the traits about your favorite TV or movie character. Say for instance, what draws me so much toward SpongeBob? What is it about him that makes me laugh all the time? Answering these questions will help you consider the types of friends you should make.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see reviewed, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
MisterParadigm. Decline of Spongebob. ToonBarn RSS. Wordpress, 24 July 2012. Web. <http://www.toonbarn.com/spongebob/spongebob-squarepants-bereaving-good-years/>.
Rabin, Roni C. "Is SpongeBob SquarePants Bad for Children?" Health and Wellness - Well Blog - NYTimes.com. The New York Times Company, 12 Sept. 2011. Web. <http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/12/is-spongebob-squarepants-bad-for-children/>
"The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water - New Trailer! | February 6, 2015." The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. Web. <http://www.spongebobmovie.com/>.
UKParamountPictures. THE SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS MOVIE: SPONGE OUT OF WATER | Official Teaser Trailer | UK | Paramount. Digital image. YouTube, 31 Jul 2014. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwTf3xiBG28>.