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The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

Year: 2015
Production Co: Nickelodeon
Studio: Paramount
Director: Paul Tibbitt
Producer: Paul Tibbitt/Mary Parent
Writer: Glenn Berger/Jonathan Aibel/Stephen Hillenburg/Paul Tibbitt
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Tom Kenny, Bill Faberbakke, Rodger Bumpass

The Spongebob universe contains a quality that used to be standard operating procedure for animated entertainment (see the outrageously ridiculous violence in the Looney Tunes series) but which has gradually bled out of the field in recent generations as CGI thrills and product tie-ins of every description have become the new forces driving the genre.

The healthy sense of 'zany' and 'madcap' actually contributes to The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water being funny, and it's only when judged against most family entertainment you realise how seldom the rest of them really make you laugh.

Of course there are overarching moral themes of forgiveness and teamwork and all the usual stuff, but it's all held together by absurdist characters and more funny lines than plenty of so-called comedies. Even Antonio Banderas is up for looking like an idiot as the pirate/food truck operator and narrator.

Hell comes to Bikini Bottom when the coveted Krabby Patty recipe is stolen from Spongebob's restaurant. The rampaging mob wants to lynch Plankton, the restaurateur from across the street who stole it, but Spongebob is the only other witness who saw what happened when the recipe simply vanished into thin air.

It was actually the pirate Burger Beard (Banderas) who stole it, reading the story of Bikini Bottom in a magical book where he can make the story come true as he sees fit, intending to come ashore and offer his own Krabby Patty burgers.

It's up to Spongebob and the gang to come up to the surface – where the film changes from the old style 2D animation of Bikini Bottom to slick, modern 3D CGI – and get the recipe back.

If you're not familiar with the Spongebob aesthetic, you'll be slightly amazed – the visual gags are at times so off the wall they're like something Salvador Dali would dream up. And with the script relishing any opportunity to set up some profundity only to stick a pin in it, the laughs will carry you the rest of the way.

This is 2015's first family animated comedy for anyone who hates family animated comedies.

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