‘SpongeBob: Sponge Out of Water’ worth the wait

When it comes to film sequels, the longer the gap between installments usually entails poor results in the newest entry.

Some examples of poor long-gap sequels include “Another 48 Hours” and “Escape From L.A.,” while some examples of the better sequels include “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” and “Live Free or Die Hard.”

Paramount Pictures’ and Nickelodeon Movies’ latest release, “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” joins the ranks of the better sequels made after a long gap of time. The first “SpongeBob” movie was released back in Nov. of 2004, and after its major commercial and critical success, a sequel was rumored for years until Paramount officially announced its production in Feb. of 2012, with the original release date slated for 2014, almost ten years after the original.

After having the film’s release date pushed back, audiences can rejoice as “SpongeBob” has finally arrived in theaters as of Feb. 5. The follow-up to its hilarious predecessor is an even funnier, clever, and more brightly animated film that is sure to wow audiences of all ages, both fans and non-fans of the show.

In his latest adventure, SpongeBob must face up against an evil pirate named Burger-Beard, played by the talented Antonio Banderas, after he steals the secret Krabby Patty formula from the title character.

In order to get it back, SpongeBob and his cohorts Patrick, Squidward, Mr. Krabs, Sandy and even Plankton must go up to the surface in order to face the money-hungry pirate for a big, and wild, climactic battle.

The plot itself is surprisingly original for both a kids’ film and a sequel. While a few elements feel a little familiar, the film as a whole gives some original ideas and plot elements to keep both kids and their older siblings/parents entertained.

One of the best elements of the film is the return of Stephen Hillenburg to the world of “SpongeBob.” Hillenburg was its show-runner up until 2004, after the release of the first film, wanting the show to end so as to not have it decline in quality. After Hillenburg’s resignation, co-writer Paul Tibbitt became the show’s primary show-runner and writer. Ironically, many viewers have complained that the show has gone down in quality in recent years since Hillenburg’s departure.

Paul Hillenburg agreed to help co-write the film with current show-runner, Paul Tibbitt. Bringing back Hillenburg was a smart idea, as it helped to bring back the original spark and personalities of the characters that were missing from the newer episodes of the show.

With the return of Hillenburg came the return of some of the show’s original characters missing from both the original film and the newer episodes, including Pearl, Mrs. Puff, Flatts the Flounder, Bubble Bass, and Fred Rechid (better known as the fish that yells “MY LEG!”), among others.

The film’s animation is also fantastic, the 2D animation throughout reviving nostalgic memories of the original show, and the 3D animation bringing the show into the more modern style.

In addition to the film’s fantastic original voice cast, the inclusion of Antonio Banderas in the live action portions of the film is a smart, funny, and well-cast idea. He does a fine job of being a wacky pirate who’s both villainous and fairly clumsy at the same time.

The movie also has a few original songs sung by the characters, keeping in style with the predecessor and show. The best song is right before the credits — a rap battle between Bubbles the Talking Dolphin and the seagulls who follow Burger-Beard plays over the iconic SpongeBob theme song.

Overall, “Sponge Out of Water” is the best animated sequel since Disney/Pixar’s “Monster University.” It brings the same zany energy, colors, and humor from the show and first film, and makes it just as good, if not better, than its predecessor. No matter what age you are, there is no such thing as being too old to enjoy some good old-fashioned SpongeBob.

Update: Revisions were made.