Animated adventure-comedy The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water‘s dedication to surreal, anti-formulaic humor makes the film a supremely confident extension of the title character’s TV series. Sponge Out of Water playfully reinforces sitcom-style roles and conflicts through a delightfully absurd scenario that builds in its weirdness until climaxing with a talking space-dolphin/singing seagulls rap battle. So while TV SpongeBob’s typical adventures don’t involve photo-booth time-machines and Antonio Banderas in a pirate outfit, Sponge Out of Water is still business as usual for the irrepressibly cheerful, pineapple-dwelling sea-creature.
Banderas’s Burger Beard, a swashbuckler cum amateur fast-food vendor, disrupts life as SpongeBob (Tom Kenny) and his friends know it by stealing the secret formula for Krabby Patties, the mega-popular sandwich that SpongeBob prepares at the Krusty Krab, an underwater burger joint. To save his hometown of Bikini Bottom from a Road Warrior–style apocalypse, SpongeBob teams up with Plankton (Douglas “Mr. Lawrence” Osowski), a pint-sized rival restaurateur.
Until the drawn-out and uninspired live-action finale, Sponge Out of Water earns a lot of laughs by playing up its characters’ stock eccentricities: Pollyannaishly naive SpongeBob explains the concept of teamwork to Plankton through a brief but hysterical musical number, while scheming Plankton vomits up a rainbow after he explores the inside of SpongeBob’s head and discovers that Mr. SquarePants’s brain is made of cotton candy.
By this point, SpongeBob’s creators know how to get the most out of their porous hero, making Sponge Out of Water a nearly perfect supersized entrée for old fans and new.