The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water

spongebob out of water

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water
Rating: PG
Run Time: 93 minutes
Released: 2015
Director: Paul Tibbitt

Cultural Rating: paw

Overall, this film does not engage too deeply with cultural issues of identity. However, the film does offer positive messages regarding teamwork and friendship and broadens the conceptions of masculinity and femininity.

Summary

A pirate steals the coveted Krabby Patty recipe, and an unlikely pair, SpongeBob and Plankton, must team-up in order to find the recipe and restore order in Bikini Bottom.


Ratings

Language: poo

  • Name calling, threatening and demeaning language
  • “Curse you,” “dim bulbs,” “nut jobs,” “idiot,” “moronic,” “jerk”

 Violence: poopoo

  • Warlike scene-guns, cannon, tank, plane crash, explosions
  • Torture imagery and dialogue-“bamboo shoots under nails” and “hot oil”
  • Post-apocalyptic imagery- ruined buildings, fire, pitchforks, homemade weapons (a board with nails in it)
  • Sacrificial ceremony imagery
  • Human and bird skeletons
  • Fighting, punching
  • Booby traps with steel spikes

Sex: poo

  • Minimal sexual content
  • “Sexy” music plays while a woman on a beach is sunbathing
  • A portion of Patrick’s butt is briefly exposed

Drugs and Alcohol: 0 poos

  • No drugs or alcohol

Cultural Analysis

 Pros:

Gender:

  • Sandy, who is coded as a female squirrel (wears a flower on her glass helmet and has long eyelashes) living under the sea, is a prominent character in the film who helps rescue the secret Krabby Patty recipe from the undeserving pirate. Thus, Sandy challenges traditional gender roles regarding femininity as she is active in trying to stop the pirate from getting away.
  • SpongeBob, who is coded as a male sponge (wears a tie), challenges traditional gender roles regarding masculinity as he is sensitive, caring, and enjoys teddy bears, cotton candy, and rainbows. For example, although SpongeBob is the male hero of the film, he openly expresses his love for his best male friend Patrick the starfish.

 Race:

  • When SpongeBob and his friends are above water on the beach, there appears to be people of color in the crowd.

Sexual Orientation: N/A

Disability: N/A

 Body: N/A

Cons:

Gender:

  • Sandy is the only prominent female role in the entire film. Also, when the team must go above water to save the day, all of the male characters are transformed into superhero versions of their underwater selves (prominent muscles and superpowers) while Sandy transforms into a real life squirrel.

 Race:

  • There are no major or minor characters of color.
  • In order to depict a post-apocalyptic Bikini Bottom, the film equates elements of Native Peoples’ cultural heritage as primitive. For example, a scene involving the sacrifice of SpongeBob to the sandwich gods uses what appears to be Mesoamerican architecture and culture. Thus, Native Peoples’ cultures are associated with being uncivilized.
  • The only real evil character is played by Antonio Banderas (a Spanish actor),  however in the movie there is no indication that he is of color.

Sexual Orientation:

Disability:

  • During a scene where Sandy begins to lose her sanity because of the Krabby Patty famine, her overall appearance becomes disheveled. (Sandy’s fur is scruffy and her nails are long and broken.) This can be understood as a common stereotype surrounding mental illnesses in the media as people with a mental illnesses are often depicted as unkempt.

Body:

  • While the team is above water, many human bodies are visible. All female bodies who were a point of focus conform to ideal body types and were sexualized while the male bodies who were a point of focus do not adhere to ideal body types (fat body) and were not sexualized.
  • Patrick is regularly depicted as a fat body who is grotesque throughout the entire film. For example, Patrick’s fatness is used for comedic relief as he requests a “double” Krabby Patty, expresses his love of ice cream (his superpower is the ability to summon ice cream), and unknowingly crushes others with his weight. Further, Patrick’s grotesque body is used as a signifier for intelligence and cleanliness. For example, Patrick is regularly depicted as unaware and stupid (Patrick himself claims that he is “not very smart” and uses binoculars incorrectly), and Plankton, who gets lost in Patrick’s fat body, pulls a copious amount of dirt from Patrick’s bellybutton.

Suggested talking points

  • Krabs is depicted as very greedy as he willingly takes Plankton’s “last penny” away from him to add to his own fortune. This is a commentary on capitalism taken to the extreme where money has more value than alleviating the distress of fellow persons.
  • The film depicts a complex understanding of the morality of torture. Plankton, who usually causes mischief and mayhem in Bikini Bottom, is tortured for information regarding the missing Krabby Patty formula. Plankton, who is innocent in this case, cannot stop the torture because he has nothing to confess. Mr. Krabs assumed Plankton’s guilt and therefore justified torturing an innocent being.
  • Because Patrick’s lack of intelligence is regularly made evident to him (and to the audience), he begins to identify as stupid at one point in the film saying “I’m not very smart.” This is an opportunity to discuss the dangers of bullying and its effects on self-esteem.

Image: Wikimedia.org

Keywords: family, spongebob, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water, movie, one paw, 1 paw, animated, live action,