The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water (U) ***

Spongebob and friends prepare for action
Spongebob and friends prepare for action
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In the pantheon of animated films about absorbent bathroom products dressed in pleasingly geometric undergarments, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie stands tall.

The 2004 feature film was a guilty pleasure, retaining all of the madcap charm and childish exuberance of the Nickelodeon cartoon series created by Stephen Hillenburg.

More than a decade later, SpongeBob and the residents of the underwater community of Bikini Bottom hit dry land in this deranged sequel, which splices colourful animation and live action.

Familiarity with the TV incarnation certainly helps because at its worst, Glenn Berger and Jonathan Aibel’s script is a psychedelic mess that defies reasoning.

For every trippy interlude, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water also delights with its unabashed exuberance and irreverence, cramming in all of the familiar characters plus a flock of seagulls to squawk the infectious theme tune.

Parents with a low threshold to boundless good cheer should prepare for a very long 93 minutes.

SpongeBob (voiced by Tom Kenny) flips burgers in a diner run by the irrepressible Eugene Krabs (Clancy Brown), where he is custodian of the secret recipe of the Krabby Patty.

Arch rival Plankton (Doug Lawrence) attempts to steal the list of ingredients, but the recipe vanishes into thin air.

In the absence of the famed Krabby Patty, Bikini Bottom teeters on the brink of apocalypse.

‘The sandwich gods are angry at us,’ screams scuba-diving squirrel Sandy (Carolyn Lawrence).

Everyone blames Plankton but SpongeBob knows he is innocent.

It transpires that a greedy pirate called Burger Beard (Antonio Banderas) has stolen the recipe using a magical book, which allows the salty seadog to rewrite history. Plankton joins forces with his computer wife Karen (Jill Talley) to create a time machine to erase Burger Beard’s meddling, but the plan fails.

Unable to restore balance from beneath the waves, SpongeBob, loyal starfish pal Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke), Mr Krabs, Sandy and curmudgeonly Squidward Tentacles (Rodger Bumpass) venture onto dry land to defeat the pilfering pirate.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water doesn’t quite match the pure entertainment of the first film but it comes close. However, a protracted sequence involving a time-travelling dolphin called Bubbles (Matt Berry) is perhaps a hallucinogenic trip too far.

Banderas appears to be having a ball as the hirsute antagonist, who has always dreamt of running his own burger bar.

Vocal performances are as lively as the animation, accompanied by a jaunty soundtrack.