Nickelodeon's popular animated series about the adventures of a sentient sea sponge and his friends, SpongeBob SquarePants, is still going strong, with the title character now a permanent fixture in the minds and hearts of kids across America. The first animated feature, 2004's The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, proved surprisingly successful - and now, eleven years later, SpongeBob returns to the big screen in The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.
The Sponge Out of Water Super Bowl trailer, which you can watch above, is a condensed version of the previous spots, as it leaves out the larger storyline involving Antonio Banderas hamming it up as Burger-Beard - a pirate set on stealing the secret formula for the Krabby Patty - in favor of the more kid-friendly jokes and gags in store.
This SpongeBob entry is notable for the shift from the cartoon's traditional 2D animation to computer-generated characters interacting with the real world once they emerge from the sea. Sponge Out of Water will also feature a super-powered upgrade to SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward and company and will be screened in 3D.
Seeing as how 2015 will deliver two original Pixar films (Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur), not to mention other noteworthy animated features (Peanuts), can an eleven-years-late SpongeBob Movie prove itself as a standout?
Fans of the cartoon may be heartened to have Paul Tibbitt as director, with fellow SpongeBob veteran Stephen Hillenburg sharing the movie's story credit. However, the credited screenwriters are Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger - and while they wrote the Kung Fu Panda series, they are also responsible for two of the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies. Those are two very different animated franchises.
It's likely that Sponge Out of Water will be aimed at a very young audience, and we might not see as much of the first SpongeBob movie's abject weirdness (like the inclusion of David Hasselhoff). Still, the unsinkable good nature of SpongeBob is one of the show's most appealing traits. It may not be as popular as it was ten years ago, but the mix of 2D and 3D/live-action - along with the attempt to jump onto the superhero bandwagon - might be enough entertain adults along with their kids.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water will open in U.S. theaters on February 6, 2015.