'The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water': What the Critics Are Saying

Back on the big screen for the first time in 11 years, SpongeBob SquarePants and friends travel through time and the "real world" to save their town of Bikini Bottom.

In The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, SpongeBob (Tom Kenny) and his zany comrades battle Burger-Beard the Pirate (Antonio Banderas) in order to retrieve the stolen Krabby Patty secret formula and save Bikini Bottom. 

The sequel to 2004's The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie mixes its classic underwater animation (directed by Paul Tibbitt) with live-action sequences (directed by Mike Mitchell) as SpongeBob travels above water for the first time on the big screen. 

The Paramount Animation and Nickelodeon Movies production is expected to debut in the $35 million to $40 million range during its first weekend at the box office. 



See what top critics are saying about The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. 

The Hollywood Reporter's Michael Rechtshaffen writes, "Although the title and those persistent TV ads might suggest otherwise, only a small fraction of The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water takes place above sea level ... but rather than further expanding those seemingly limitless SpongeBob horizons, the live-action/CG stuff never satisfyingly jibes with the traditional nautical nonsense down below. The two worlds fail to create a cohesive whole in spite of all the inspired non sequiturs provided by the Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger script. Sometimes life at the bottom can be a good thing." 

The Washington Post's Jen Chaney says, "There's something about this project that, despite checking all of the requisite plot and sensibility boxes, doesn't convey as an organic work of SpongeBob-isheness. It feels more like something cooked up by Paramount and Nickelodeon to make sure that SpongeBob ... continues to stay relevant, both with the kids who watch Nickelodeon and the 20-somethings who view SpongeBob as an object of nostalgia. ... It's ultimately a product cranked out to make money and keep our consumer-driven society, much like Bikini Bottom's, chugging along without significant disruption."

USA Today's Claudia Puig notes, "The lovable invertebrate SpongeBob SquarePants hits the big screen again ... but this time he tries a little too hard to make a splash. The narrator of the tale, Banderas' Burger-Beard, turns out to be a key but dastardly part of the story as he fashions a beachfront food truck that looks a bit like a wooden ark, and serves up Krabby Patties. Clearly, Banderas is having a good time as a wacky pirate, but it's too bad that what he's given to do is not terribly clever."



The Guardian's Jordan Hoffman says the film is "90 minutes of sugar shock that requires little exposure to the nearly 15-year old franchise. Sure, there's a semblance of a story (and some winks for longtime fans) but this is primarily an exercise in hyperactivity meant to spark glee in kids and draw chuckles from adults. Moreover, the script is a minefield of puns blasting in every which direction. It isn't just the sheer density of jokes that is impressive, but the diversity. Trippy visual surrealism, like Plankton's POV shots as he's tortured by SpongeBob's laugh ... barking "holding that thought!" and cutting to a literal representation of that action is something not just any animator can pull off." 

Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips writes, "It's passable ... not quite in sync with its own marketing campaign, Sponge Out of Water doesn't deliver SpongeBob and the gang to the 'real,' non-animated world until quite late in the film, which runs a reasonable-sounding 92 minutes. Yet those 92 feel like more than enough. The real-world excursion is plenty busy, but only occasionally clever."