The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water is a live-action/animated hybrid movie based on the popular Nickelodeon TV series SpongeBob SquarePants, and a stand-alone sequelnote to 2004's The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, released on February 6th, 2015. It was directed by Paul Tibbitt, with screenplay by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger (of Kung Fu Panda fame) based on a story written by Tibbitt and show creator Stephen Hillenburg. The live-action portion of the film is directed by Mike Mitchell of Sky High (2005) fame, and worked on the show in early season 4.
The story is about the Krabby Patty secret recipe being stolen by Burger Beard the Pirate (Antonio Banderas), causing Bikini Bottom to enter a Mad Max-esque post-apocalyptic wasteland. SpongeBob and friends come ashore and become superheroes in order to defeat Burger Beard and retrieve the Krabby Patty secret recipe.
Like the first movie, the final act mixes animation and live-action, with the characters going to the surface. However, instead of remaining in their 2D forms, the characters become CGI.
It is the first film released under Paramount's current in-house animation division Paramount Animationnote , the first theatrical animated movie tied to a Nicktoon since 2006's Barnyard, which spawned a spin-off series, and the first sequel based on a Nicktoon other than Rugrats.
- Absurdly Ineffective Barricade: When Plankton attacks the Krusty Krab with a Humongous Mecha, Mr. Krabs orders SpongeBob to bar the office door. SpongeBob puts up a flimsy chair against the door, which of course is completely useless when the robot busts the door down moments later.
- Actionized Sequel: The amount of action is increased compared to The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie thanks to Bikini Bottom becoming an Apunkalypse and the superhero climax.
- Actor Allusion: Mr. Krabs in his superhero form, at one point, apprehends Burger-Beard by firing one of his robot claws and pinning him against a wall. Long Feng could do something similar.
- Actually a Doombot: How Plankton initially fooled everyone to steal the formula yet again.
- Affectionate Parody: One of Pirate movies, the post-apocalyptic genre, and the Superhero blockbuster.
- All for Nothing: Subverted. SpongeBob and Plankton's attempt to retrieve the Krabby Patty secret formula with teamwork fails completely. The situation is only salvaged when SpongeBob smells a Krabby Patty coming from the surface. This seems to render the teamwork plot pointless... until the very end where Plankton takes his teamwork lessons to heart and helps the heroes defeat Burger Beard.
- Animation Bump: Traditionally-animated characters have more fluid techniques, and even the background designs are more impressive than those from the show.
- The Apunkalypse: Bikini Bottom inexplicably turns into this as an apparent side-effect to Burger Beard's scheme.
- Arc Words: "The end".
- Artistic License Space: When Jupiter and Saturn crash into each other, they appear to be made of solid rock. Jupiter and Saturn are gas giants. Then again, this is a movie about a talking sponge who becomes a superhero to fight a pirate who stole a burger recipe, so...
- Ascended Extra: Sandy Cheeks and Squidward Tentacles, who were both Demoted to Extra in the previous movie (the former especially), are now getting top billing.
- Audience Surrogate:
SpongeBob: What are you doing?
- The seagulls when they question Burger Beard's narration of the movie.
- Other characters like Squidward and Plankton have minor instances of this. At one point Squidward is shocked that they can just tear off their apocalypse attire and the clothing they always wear is right underneath it. In another scene, Patrick is destroying his own house when SpongeBob and Plankton show up.
Patrick: "Vandalizing stuff.
Plankton: "Isn't that your house?"
- Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: Some "mild rude humor" such as a scene with a woman in a bikini laying on the beach, SpongeBob accidentally mooning Patrick, a censored curse word, and some trippy, drug-induced sequences (including a direct 2001 reference) seem to have been added for the PG rating.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Burger Beard, as the climax progresses. Even complete with a maniacal cackle.
- Bait-and-Switch Time Skip: Spongebob and Plankton travel into the future, only to see that without the Krabby Patty, Bikini Bottom has become a wasteland and Patrick has grown a long, white beard. They have this exchange:Patrick: Finally! The Great Krabby Patty Famine is over!SpongeBob: Great Krabby Patty Famine? Oh, what year is this?Patrick: It's Thursday.
- Big Bad: Burger Beard is the main villain of the film.
- Big Damn Heroes: Plankton/Plank-Ton comes in to save the other heroes, stops Burger Beard by lifting his ship, and then powers up SpongeBob/Invicibubble's bubbles to create a bubble wave that defeats Burger Beard.
- Big Damn Movie: Bikini Bottom is turned into a hellish apunkalypse, the Big Bad is able to rewrite reality at his will, and the entire thing is generally played more seriously than a regular episode (though it's a lot more lighthearted than the first movie).
- Big "SHUT UP!": Squidward does this when he comes in to complain to Mr. Krabs:Squidward: MR. KRABS! SpongeBob, zip it!
[SpongeBob promptly stops laughing]
Plankton: [exhausted] Thank you, Squidward...
- Black Comedy:
- Just before the time travel sequences, Plankton and SpongeBob sneak back into Bikini Bottom to save Karen. She was being tortured by the denizens of the town because they thought she had the Krabby Patty secret formula. Plankton and SpongeBob need Karen to operate the time machine they had built, and remove her monitor from her robotic body. SpongeBob acts like he's Squicked out about it, saying "I've never carried a head before". Plankton responds "Don't worry, you'll get used to it," implying he's cut off and carried actual heads around before. Since Karen is a computer, this doesn't harm her, but she does state that powering the time machine is going to take up all her processing power.
- The scene with a fish in the hospital eating a patty. Dr. Gilliam declares that he'll be gone in a week, and his wife mourns the imminent loss while eating a patty herself.
- Bowel-Breaking Bricks: Squidward inks himself when SpongeBob and his friends are sent to the Pelican island, which is portrayed as something like a potty accident. Squidward explains why that happened:"It happens when I'm nervous."
- Breaking the Fourth Wall:
- When the background characters refuse to go the surface.Random Fish: All secondary characters come with me.
- Also at the end of the film when Squidward acknowledges the music playing in the background.Squidward: That music must mean things are back to normal.
- When the background characters refuse to go the surface.
- Brick Joke: In one scene, as a reference to the series episode "No Nose Knows", Patrick bemoans the fact that he has legs, but no feet, and mentions how all his friends have feet as well. Later in the movie, one of the first things Patrick does after becoming a superhero is noticing he has feet.
- Bridal Carry: A gender-flipped version in the scene when the gang are on dry land and are crossing the road trying to avoid the bicyclists and skaters and Sandy carries Squidward in her arms to safety.
- Bubble Gun: SpongeBob/Invincibubble shoots, well, bubbles.
- Bullet Seed: Sandy (in her superhero mode) spits peanuts out at Burger Beard.
- SpongeBob teaching Plankton the concept of teamwork, with Plankton being unable to even pronounce the word is certain to remind some viewers of SpongeBob SquarePants episodes like "F.U.N" and "Single Cell Anniversary" where SpongeBob had trouble teaching Plankton the concepts of fun, friendship, and love.
- The scene where Patrick complains about his friends having feet while he doesn't could certainly be a Call-Back to the episode "No Nose Knows", where Patrick is envious of his friends' noses because he doesn't have one.
- The fact that he actually does gain and then lose a pair of feet could be further reference to the episode, though he honestly doesn't take it nearly as badly the second time around.
- There are many references to past episodes, such as Patrick declaring "Finland" from "Frankendoodle", Squidward's interpretive dance from "Culture Shock", the dolphin chirping censor from "Sailor Mouth", and the first use of the famed "My leg!" gag since "Krusty Krushers". This is probably due to Stephen Hillenburg's return, and the pre-movie Easter eggs continue to appear in post-sequel episodes.
- The Cameo:
- EpicLloyd and NicePeter from Epic Rap Battles of History show up as surfers in line to get Krabby Patties at Burger Beard's stand.
- Besides writing the song "Teamwork", Kate Micucci and Rikki Lindhome of the duo Garfunkel and Oats make brief appearances as The Shining-esque popsicles inside SpongeBob's brain.
- Slash was originally going to make a cameo as a street musician towards the end of the film, as promised by the trailers. His scene was cut from the final movie.
- The seagulls are all voiced by voice acting veterans including Eric Bauza, Tim Conway (also the voice of Barnacle Boy on the original series), Eddie Deezen, Rob Paulsen, Kevin Michael Richardson, April Stewart, Cree Summer, Billy West, Carlos Alazraqui (who also voiced various miscellaneous characters on the show), and Nolan North.
- Bubble Bass shows up at the beginning during a Krusty Krab scene. He had only appeared four times in the show before the movie came out.
- Flats the Flounder, who disappeared after the season three episode "The Bully," is shown dancing with the others during the end credits.
- Captain Colorbeard: Burger Beard the pirate.
- Cassandra Truth: Nobody believes SpongeBob's claims that Plankton didn't steal the formula. Fortunately, the scent of the currently-being-cooked-by-Burger Beard patties vindicates SpongeBob's claim.
- Character Development: Plankton, who becomes sort of an anti-hero, due to working with SpongeBob throughout a majority of the movie. At the very end though, he's back to his old, scheming self.
- Chekhov's Gun: One of the seagulls rips off a page of the magic book and drops it into the ocean...which ends up on top of Sandy's treedome. Later, when the gang are stranded on an island by Burger Beard, SpongeBob uses the page to transform the gang into superheroes.
- Close-Enough Timeline: Intentionally invoked in the end, when SpongeBob returns Bikini Bottom to normal (with the exception of Squidward rocking the Heroic Build under his shirt).
- Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are: Said by Plankton while he's looking for Burger Beard.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Parodied. After the Secret Formula has literally vanished and Mr. Krabs doesn't believe Plankton about it, he tapes him to his desk and tells a knock-knock joke. ("Jimmy." "Jimmy who?" "Jimmy BACK MY FORMULA, PLANKTON!") SpongeBob's ensuing laughter after he gets the joke (with Krabs wearing ear protectors) is what gets Plankton screaming.
- Continuity Nod:
- During the "Thank Gosh It's Monday" music video created for the Day of Positivity, the spatula that SpongeBob used in the show's pilot episode can be seen, and the seaweed mustaches from the first movie can be seen in a framed picture on the wall (though that is a little odd, considering that the first movie takes place at the end of the show's timeline, while this film is said to be a prequel to the first one, although the scene does not appear in the movie, solidifying its prequel status).
- During the credits, Squidward does the dance from his act in "Culture Shock".
- During the part where Plankton attacks the Krusty Krab with a pickle-firing tank causing Patrick to slam into a wall, he mutters "Finland...", which he similarly yelled in "Frankendoodle" when hit with a bowling ball.
- Similarly, when Sandy orders from the Krusty Krab, she mentions "Hold the mayo," a reference to "Planet of the Jellyfish" where she mentions her dislike of mayo.
- One of SpongeBob's ways of stopping Plankton is with the reefblower from season 1.
- Several one shot characters, like Flats the Flounder, appear in the background at various times.
- Mr. Krabs' superhero form resembles the robot Krabs Plankton built in "Imitation Krabs".
- Spongebobs superhero form is basically his muscular form from The Fry Cook Games in a superhero outfit.
- During the rap battle between Bubbles and the seagulls, one of the seagulls uses a curse word, which is censored with a dolphin noise sound effect in a similar fashion to "Sailor Mouth".
- The Krusty Krab's drive-thru system seems to have improved from the hole in the wall and tin can phone they had in the Season 8 episode "Drive Thru".
- Plankton having trouble comprehending the idea of "teamwork" is similar to his difficulty understanding fun in "F.U.N."
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: Mr. Krabs tortures Plankton by... getting SpongeBob to laugh at a knock-knock joke. Hard.
- Cool Loser: In spite of the fact that he's an outcast that was clearly Born in the Wrong Century, Burger Beard owns an awesome-looking pirate ship, which is pimped-out with wheels and a ton of cannons on it.
- Creative Closing Credits: The credits depict stylized versions of the characters in a conga line, with various tiki heads appearing in the background.
- Creator Cameo:
- Series creator Stephen Hillenburg has a vocal cameo in the film as the voice of a live-action baby who says, "SpongeBob!"
- Showrunner Paul Tibbitt voices Kyle the seagull.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Played with with Burger Beard. The first thing he does once he gets the magical book is steal the Krabby Patty recipe so he can make money off of it rather than just make himself rich. Possibly justified by the fact that it is implied that the book is limited to influencing what has already been written in it, meaning Burger Beard can't do anything directly for himself with it.
- Darker and Edgier: While it's not as dark as the first movie, this movie still has its moments compared to the show. A major example being that the Bikini Bottom Apocalypse is actually played rather seriously, especially in the sacrifice scene.
- Dem Bones: At the beginning, Burger Beard finds the book he covets on an island full of traps, in the hands of a skeleton sitting in the middle of the jungle. However, when the book is taken, the skeleton promptly animates and defies the pirate in Good Old Fisticuffs.
- Department of Redundancy Department: When Plankton is trying to tell Mr. Krabs that the formula literally disappeared, Mr. Krabs answers with: "Why should I believe YOU, you lying liar?!"
- Deuteragonist: Behind SpongeBob, Plankton's role in the film greatly outweighs that of the other characters, and he even winds up becoming the Big Damn Hero in the end, no strings attached!
- Diabolus ex Machina: Because Burger Beard is able to rewrite reality to his will, he obtains the secret formula, empties the Patty Vault, and turns Bikini Bottom into a dystopia. He later strands the heroes on Pelican Island with the same method.
- Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: The seagulls begin singing the theme song, but Burger Beard stops them.
- Didn't Think This Through: Mr. Krabs' No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup rule regarding the Krabby Patty Secret Formula. He apparently never considered the possibility of the only copy in existence actually being stolen... or in this case, suddenly disappearing on him.
- Downer Ending: Subverted, Burger Beard tries to invoke this at first, but the sea gulls threaten to poop on him if he doesnt continue the story.
- Dreamworks Face: The posters for the film have SpongeBob doing it as the Invincibubble.
- Dude, Not Funny!: Plankton remarks, after he and SpongeBob were exiled from Bikini Bottom, that they could rename Bikini Bottom to "Dirty Bottom". SpongeBob's reaction is "...that's kind of gross, Plankton."
- Easily Forgiven: SpongeBob seems to take the whole town turning against him, his best friend ratting him out, and everybody trying to sacrifice him pretty well by the end of the film.
- Edible Ammunition:
- Burger Beard uses a blunderbuss loaded with butter.
- At the beginning, Plankton and the Krusty Krab battle each other with, among other things, a potato-firing machine gun and a pickle-launching tank.
- Sandy in her superhero form shoves nuts in her mouth and spits them out like bullets.
- Parodied with Patrick/Mr. Superawesomeness and his ice cream powers. At first he uses them as a wave attack against Burger Beard, and SpongeBob/Invincibubble says that he should never have doubted Patrick's power, only for it to backfire and all the ice cream to hit Patrick.
- 11th-Hour Superpower: The protagonists gain their superhero alter-egos in the last 20 minutes of the film. For a 13th hour example, when SpongeBob uses the book to press the Reset Button, he adds a slight caveat that gives Squidward the Heroic Build.
- Enemy Mine: When the Krabby Patty secret formula disappears — and Plankton is not responsible — SpongeBob decides the best thing to do is team up with Plankton to get it back. This is despite the fact Plankton is the villain of the series.
- Even Evil Has Standards: A subversion considering that Plankton was a superhero called Plank-TON at the time. He gives the secret formula to Sir Pinch-A-Lot (Mr. Krabs) so that everything would be back to normal.
- Everyone Has Standards: Squidasaurus is appalled that the Bikini Bottomites try to sacrifice SpongeBob.Squidasaurus: And I thought my friends were primitive.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Not only does Plankton struggle to understand the concept of teamwork, he can't even pronounce it properly ("Te-am work? Tie-am? Time bomb... work?"). He also believes that SpongeBob helping him is really a front for a plot to steal the formula for himself, and is shocked to learn he really doesn't know it.
- Exit, Pursued by a Bear: No, he doesn't die, but Plankton exits the film pursued by a snail.
- Fake-Out Fade-Out: Burger Beard reads a story about the Krusty Krab to the seagulls after obtaining the Reality-Writing Book. Fake credits start rolling after he concludes the story with a premature Downer Ending, until a seagull interrupts and complains that it can't end like that.
- Framing Device: Subverted. The main plot is initially presented as a story, in a book, read by a pirate, to a bunch of seagulls. When one of the pages of the book falls into the ocean and lands on Sandy's treedome, it becomes clear that the pirate is somehow narrating events in the present. Then the pirate - Burger Beard - is revealed to be the Big Bad who stole the Krabby Patty secret formula.
- Freak Out: SpongeBob briefly loses it when Plankton tells him that it's his fault that they failed to get the secret formula back and throws insult after insult at him. This, coupled with the dystopia surrounding him, causes him to start screaming, kicking a trash can, collapsing to the floor, and start mixing garbage with recycling. He snaps out of it, and realizes that he's just become a savage like everybody else.
- Funny Background Event:
- Squidasaurus Rex struggling to eat a Krabby Patty.
- A small fish chasing two muscular fish with a pitchfork during the news report.
- Future Me Scares Me: After SpongeBob and Plankton travel back in time to the point when Plankton is about to steal the secret formula, Past SpongeBob is horrified when he sees himself aiding Plankton in stealing the formula; he doesn't know that he is actually taking it to save Bikini Bottom.
- Gainax Ending: After the plot has concluded, the talking seagulls begin to reprise their version of the SpongeBob theme, in a stylistic Flash animation. However, Bubbles reappears and expresses his disdain for the song, which inexplicably leads into a rap battle between them.
- Gilligan Cut: This little gem:Mr. Krabs: [acting like crazy] The Krabby Patty is what ties us all together! Without it, there will be a complete breakdown of social order! A war of all against all! Dark times are ahead! Dark times indeed!
Squidward: Seriously? Aren't you overreacting a bit?
[cut to Bikini Bottom in flaming ruins and everyone dressed in punk attire]
- Gratuitous Rap: The rap battle between Bubbles and the Seagulls, done by the guys behind Epic Rap Battles of History.
- Halfway Plot Switch: When the Krabby Patty formula disappears, the plot is initially about SpongeBob and Plankton teaming up to find it while Bikini Bottom goes crazy. They fail, but then SpongeBob smells Krabby Patties being made on the surface. This leads to a new plot where SpongeBob and company explore the surface world to find the Krabby Patty formula and stop the Big Bad. The original plot isn't completely abandoned, as Plankton takes his teamwork lesson to heart and defeats the Big Bad.
- Hating on Monday: Inverted to an intense degree in the "Thank Gosh It's Monday" music video. Everyone in Bikini Bottom (except for Squidward and maybe Plankton and Karen) actually loves Monday. Mostly because it's the day the Krusty Krab reopens after being closed on Sunday.
- Head Blast:
- Bubbles can fire red laser beams from the blowhole on his head.
- SpongeBob's superhero form comes with a mask that can fire bubbles from the bubble lower stick mounted on it.
- HeelFace Revolving Door:
- Plankton goes from being a villain to hero and back to villain.
- Patrick goes from hero, uh, own house vandal to willing teammate to angry mob supporter and back to hero.
- HeelFace Turn: Bubbles goes from trying to kill SpongeBob and Plankton to helping them stop Burger Beard.
- Heroic Sacrifice:
- SpongeBob offers himself for sacrifice to the Sandwich Gods.
- Karen uses up all her processing power to help SpongeBob and Plankton go back in time to set things right.
- I Choose to Stay: Parodied at the end. After the villain is defeated, Squidward wants to stay on land in his Sour Note form, because, in his words, "I am a god!" However, SpongeBob writes on the magical page for everything to be back to the way it was at the start of the film. With the modification of giving Squidward "rock-hard abs".
- "I Know What We Can Do" Cut: SpongeBob and the gang have a little trouble walking on a sidewalk because of people roller-skating and riding bikes.SpongeBob: Now what?!
Squidward: We're never gonna make it!
[SpongeBob notices a bike; cut to the gang riding it]
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Parodied. Mr. Krabs tortures Plankton for info... by making him listen to SpongeBob's laugh.
- Left the Background Music On: SpongeBob and Plankton are sneaking into the Chum Bucket to get Karen, and have to get the key to Karen's cell. Plankton starts tiptoeing and we think it's a regular cartoony tiptoeing sounds. But then he stops and we see that it's just SpongeBob standing there playing a tiny piano.Plankton: Would you stop playing that tiny piano?
SpongeBob: [hides piano behind his back] Sorry.
- Level Ate: The film has Plankton entering SpongeBob's brain, a Sugar Bowl that contains stuff like lollipop trees and living ice cream cones spraying chocolate syrup on each other.
- Lighter and Softer: The film is still somewhat dark, due to Bikini Bottom becoming an apunkalypse for a good chunk of the film, but otherwise it's not as serious as The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie's surprisingly disturbing dystopia.
- Literal-Minded: SpongeBob says hypothetically that the only way that he and Plankton could possibly fix the scrape they've gotten themselves into is go back in time and stop the events that happened in the first place. Plankton tells him to "hold that thought". He proceeds to grab the thought bubble over his head and hold it like a balloon.
- Loud of War: Sour Note's clarinet creates powerful sonic waves from its bad playing. It manages to keep the book away from Burger Beard in a Last Ditch Move.
- Low-Speed Chase:
- When Gary, king of snails, sics his snails on SpongeBob and Plankton, the former flees in a panic from his house... before realizing that they have little chance to catch him up, being mollusks.
- At the end of the movie, Plankton on a fake Gary snail-bot flees from the real Gary... very slowly. And letting out a scream every few seconds. They're still at it at the very end of credits.
- MacGuffin Guardian: Beyond traps, the magic book that Burger Beard is seeking is also protected by its previous owner, in the form of an animated skeleton.
- Meaningful Echo: When Plankton is fighting with SpongeBob over the formula bottle, we hear this:Plankton: Come on, SpongeBob! Join me! And we'll be rich and powerful! Until I eventually betray you... Uhh... JOIN ME!
SpongeBob: No! Never! I'm on Team Krabs for life!
[later at the climax, when he is a superhero and prepares to take the formula from Burger Beard]
Burger Beard: Come on, team up with me! We'll be rich and powerful! Huh?
Plankton: No, thanks. I'm already part of a teamwork.
- Medium Blending: All the underwater scenes are done in traditional animation like the show (and is given the cinematic budget like the first movie), while all the scenes on land are in live action with the SpongeBob cast done in CGI, unlike the last movie. Also, Bubbles is stop-motion, and the rap battle at the end is Flash.
- Megaton Punch: The skeleton guarding the book uppercuts Burger Beard hard enough that he flies out of the island. He's lucky, however, in that he lands straight on his own boat.
- The Movie: Like The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie before it, it's a movie tied to SpongeBob SquarePants.
- Musicalis Interruptus: In the beginning of the movie, the talking seagulls begin singing the Theme Song, but Burger Beard stops them and threatens to burn them, showing the same thing happened to his parrots. It happens again before the credits. Bubbles interrupts the theme song and expresses his hatred of it and, apropos of nothing, goes into a rap battle with one of the seagulls.
- Mythology Gag: Squidward's Interpretive Dance during the credits is the same one he used in the Krusty Krab talent show.
- Naked People Are Funny: It is pointed out that Plankton is naked when Past SpongeBob asks why he's naked. Plankton explains that he goes nude because they don't make clothes his size.
- Never Trust a Trailer:
- If you assumed the movie was going to be about SpongeBob and his friends going to land for a majority of the film, they don't go on land until the last 20 minutes, including credits. The majority of the animation in film is actually hand-drawn, with plenty of Medium Blending. The trailer also promised a cameo by Slash as a street musician, which ended up being cut from the film.
- The trailer makes it look as if Burger Beard is the one who attacks the Krusty Krab. In the actual film, it's Plankton. The Bikini Bottom gang don't even know who Burger Beard is until they reach land, which again doesn't happen until the last 20 minutes.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: When SpongeBob and Plankton watch the cosmos for Bubbles, Jupiter ends up crashing into Saturn. This causes Bubbles to get fired and become aggressive toward the duo. However, it's subverted later, when Bubbles reveals that he hated his job; he rewards the heroes by granting them the ability to breathe above water.
- Non-Standard Character Design: All of the CGI models of the characters in their superhero forms look like their cartoon counterparts... except for Sandy Cheeks, who looks like an actual squirrel.
- No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Apparently, Mr. Krabs made a rule that only one copy of the Krabby Patty formula could exist and that no one was allowed to memorize it. The cause of the plot comes when that one copy disappears right when more patties need to be made.
- Not Me This Time: Plankton is in the midst of stealing the Krabby Patty formula when it suddenly disappears in his hands. When Mr. Krabs arrives and sees the formula gone, he naturally assumes Plankton did it and has him arrested. Only SpongeBob, the only other witness to the disappearance, believes Plankton's innocence, and breaks him out so they can work together to get it back.
- Not Now, Kiddo:
- SpongeBob tries to tell Mr. Krabs and others that Plankton didn't steal the formula this time, but they don't even bother listening to him.
- While Plankton is bemoaning the fact that he lost the Krabby Patty formula right when it was in his grasp, Karen tries to tell him that Mr. Krabs is leading an angry mob outside the Chum Bucket. By the time he pays attention, the mob had gotten inside and surrounded him.
- Ow, My Body Part!:
- Out of Focus: Downplayed with Patrick, who is still fairly prominent (especially during the superhero climax) but is primarily comic relief and not the Deuteragonist like he was in the first movie - Plankton takes that role instead.
- Parental Bonus: There's a reference to The Shining when Plankton entered SpongeBob's mind and met two popsicles.
- Pass the Popcorn: As SpongeBob and his friends chase Burger Beard down the street, the seagulls watch them go while eating popcorn. While this happens, one seagull yells to Burger Beard, "That's what you get!"
- A Pirate 400 Years Too Late: Burger Beard clearly doesn't belong in the movie's modern United States coast town setting. In fact, his pirate ship has wheels on it and doubles as a food truck.
- Precision F-Strike: Not anywhere in the actual movie, but in the credits, N.E.R.D's "Sandy Squirrel" has this lyric in the song:Ooh, medicine girl, medicine girl
I'm so heavily in a hell of a world
- Read the Fine Print: A rare moment where this is mentioned to the one who wrote it. When Mr. Krabs mentions that SpongeBob should have the Krabby Patty formula memorized by now, SpongeBob reminds him that the employee handbook says no one is allowed to commit the formula to memories, dreams, or needlepoint.Mr. Krabs: Curse you, Fine Print!
- Reality-Writing Book: The magic book. Anything written on it or it's pages immediately happens. The story is already written in, but the characters can change it on the fly.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Plankton delivers one to SpongeBob after they fail to recover the formula, claiming that SpongeBob is the worst teammate ever and it's his fault everything went wrong.
- Recycled Title: This movie is a follow up to The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, though all the publicity seems happy to refer to it only as "The SpongeBob Movie" and treat it like it is unprecedented.
- Repeating Ad:
- Dear God, were the ads for this movie everywhere! Stations owned by Viacom aired commercials for the film at least once a break on their shows (except for SpongeBob related ones, since that would be an FCC violation.) It also played on Nick Jr. to the point where parents complained about the advertising of a show aimed at kids older than the target age of the channel.
- The ad also played on CBS at least once every commercial break. (For the record, CBS was not owned by Viacom at the time this film was released, but even then the two shared the same parent company.) It doesn't help matters that, in a manner similar to the episode "Sailor Mouth", the ad shown on the channel had dolphin noises placed at inappropriate times throughout the ad.
- Ads also played on YouTube, usually on videos of children's shows or games, as well as during the DVD release of the film.
- A different ad, which began with "What do you want from little old me?", played on radio stations like WPLJ every other break.
- The ad problem was so immense that people who hated SpongeBob were advised to not watch television, listen to the radio or YouTube until Cinderella came out in mid-March, or for the DVD release, until Inside Out came out.
- Reverse Telescopic Vision: Patrick is holding his binoculars backwards during a WWII-inspired scene.Patrick: I think we have a few minutes before he gets here.
[SpongeBob flips the binoculars around]
Patrick: AAAHH! HE'S RIGHT ON TOP OF US!
- Rewriting Reality: The conflict of the movie is instigated by a magic book that can rewrite reality falling into the hands of the evil pirate Burger Beard. Burger Beard uses the book to make the Krabby Patty secret formula disappear... and then reappear in his possession, off-screen.
- Rodents of Unusual Size: Sandy Cheeks is a rare heroic example. Usually she's an anthropomorphic squirrel no bigger than someone's hand, but in her superhero form "The Rodent", she, as well as being very realistic looking, is about twice the size of a human.
- Roger Rabbit Effect: As with the last movie, there are live-action/animated sequences. However this time, the animation is done with CGI instead of traditional hand-drawn animation whenever real people show up.
- Room Full of Crazy: Sandy's treedome after her Sanity Slippage is plastered with papers reflecting Sandy's belief that the end times are coming.
- Sand In My Eyes: SpongeBob notices Plankton tearing up after having to shut down Karen to build the time machine.SpongeBob: Plankton, are you crying?
Plankton: No, no, no, that's one of the hazards of having a giant eyeball. Stuff always gets in there.
- Sanity Slippage: Everyone in Bikini Bottom loses it after the formula is stolen, becoming savage and selfish. Sandy is a more noticeable example, as her treedome is converted into a Room Full of Crazy, and she keeps prophesying about "The End".
- Say My Name: Mr. Krabs does this while forcing his way into the Krusty KrabMr. Krabs: PLAAAANNNKTOOOOOOON!!
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Patrick has been helping defending Krusty Krab during the food fight, but when Plankton reveals his giant robot...Patrick: I just remembered. I don't work for Mr. Krabs. [gives SpongeBob his helmet and run away]
- The first poster◊ for the movie is an obvious parody of old adverts for Coppertone sunscreen.
- The second poster◊ is a parody of The Avengers, using the characters' superhero alter-egos.
- The apocalyptic Bikini Bottom is an extensive parody of Mad Max. This is fairly timely, considering that Mad Max: Fury Road came out a few months later.
- One recurring background fish wears a blue shirt with shoulderpads, looking somewhat like Kenshiro.
- Bubbles the dolphin is a parody of Uatu the Watcher from the Marvel Universe.
- The firecracker popsicle twins in SpongeBob's dream are clearly a parody of The Shining.
- Mr. Krabs and Plankton become Iron Man and the Hulk, respectively.
- Three poster ads are parodies of Jurassic World, Terminator Genisys, and... Fifty Shades of Grey.
- The visuals during SpongeBob and Plankton's time-traveling are inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey.
- The ending is set up very much like an Epic Rap Battle of History.
- Mr. Krabs/Sir Pinch-A-Lot launching one of his mechanical claws at Burger Beard and trapping him is similar to how Long Feng from Avatar: The Last Airbender fights.
- The scene where Burger Beard looks in his mirror at SpongeBob and his friends charging at him, the mirror reading "OBJECTS APPEARING CLOSER THAN YOU THINK" is similar to the Tyrannosaurus rex chasing a Jurassic Park jeep.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: SpongeBob lets out a high-pitched scream when he opens the freezer, only to find out that all of the Krabby Patties are gone. Krabs follows suit.
- Sickeningly Sweet: When Plankton crawls into SpongeBob's brain to unlock the secret formula, he finds out its a terribly happy and colorful place. Plankton is so disgusted by this that he pukes rainbows.
- Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer:
- One Japanese TV spot did not feature Squidward in it. This was because his voice actor, Rokurou Naya, had died and they had not yet found a replacement.
- A variant occurs with Sandy — while she does appear in most trailers, her superhero form, the Rodent, does not, presumably to make it more of a shock to the audience. It also wasn't added to the poster until later, after the film was released.
- Spoiler Cover: The DVD cover clearly shows Plankton as Plank-Ton.
- Status Quo Is God: Plankton goes back to his villainous ways at the end. Given that this is a prequel to the first movie, he'd need to.
- The Stinger: Gary the Snail is still pursuing Plankton on his snail-bot after the credits.
- Sugar Bowl: Plankton discovers a cotton candy-filled wonderland inside SpongeBob's brain.
- Super Not-Drowning Skills: Or rather, Super Not-Asphyxiating Skills. The gang seems to function perfectly fine above water in spite of not being able to breathe air (though this does make sense for Sandy and Mr. Krabs — note that the former doesn't seem to be wearing her helmet). It turns out that Bubbles the dolphin granted them these skills as a reward for causing him to lose his job (he never liked his job as the protector of the universe, but he never had the courage to quit, either).
- Tagline: "He's leaving his world behind."
- Take That!: The characters' disturbed reaction to Sandy when she becomes a realistic-looking squirrel might be a shot at how live-action movies unintentionally make beloved cartoon characters look creepy when they're rendered in elaborate CGI.
- Team Hand-Stack: Referenced once relatively early on, and later done when the characters are superheroes. Both times, it's referred to as "hands in the middle".
- Tempting Fate: SpongeBob and the gang don't know how to go to the surface.Squidward: The only way we're going out there is if some Fairy Godmother shows up and helps us breathe air!
[Bubbles the dolphin suddenly appears]
- Throw the Dog a Bone: Squidward wants to stay on land in his Sour Note form, but SpongeBob wants to bring the whole gang back home. He's dismayed to be just an ordinary cashier again, but SpongeBob, via a page from the magical book, made him keep his "rock-hard abs".
- Tiny-Headed Behemoth: Plankton's superhero form takes this trope to its zenith — he's seriously built, but you can barely see his head in some shots.
- Token Evil Teammate: Plankton, being a superhero, is fighting alongside the protagonists in the climax. After they beat Burger Beard, he has the chance to take the formula for himself. He does consider it, but ultimately gives it back to Krabs. Granted once SpongeBob returns the group home, he goes back to his usual villainy but by this point, it's just routine.
- Took a Level in Badass: SpongeBob and his friends come out of the sea and fight against Burger Beard by becoming superheroes.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: The whole town after they run out of Krabby Patties. They don't hesitate to kill SpongeBob after he offers himself as a sacrifice to the "Sandwich Gods".
- Trailers Always Spoil: One of the trailers clearly shows Plankton as Plank-Ton. Even worse, the DVD cover shows it too.
- T. Rexpy: The Squidasaurus rex is a T. rex-like creature with Squidward's head.
- Verbal Weakness: "Refunds" to Mr. Krabs, which causes a negative physical reaction in him.
- Warrior Undead: BurgerBeard has to fight a walking pirate skeleton in order to get the magical book. The skeleton is strong enough to send BurgerBeard flying off the island with a Megaton Punch, but BurgerBeard still gets the book.
- The Watcher: Parodied by Bubbles, the talking dolphin SpongeBob and Plankton encounter while they accidentally time travel to the future. He is a powerful being whose job is to watch the galaxy in case something bad happens, but he's been watching for so long he needs to use the rest room. Possibly also a subversion, as it's implied he's supposed to act if bad things are about to happen. SpongeBob and Plankton don't realize this when they temporarily take over for him...
- Weaponized Music: Sour Note is a weaker version of this: the loud, shrill sound waves from his clarinet are able to send people running, but Burger Beard holds the fort.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: It's never explained what happened to Karen after the time machine was destroyed, although it's safe to say that Plankton rebuilt her after the events of the movie.
- What Have I Become?:
- SpongeBob when he has his breakdown after failing to save the Krabby Patty formula after going back in time and realizing he has descended into savagery like the others.
- At one point, Past SpongeBob says this word-for-word when he sees Future SpongeBob and Future Plankton becoming a team and stealing the formula from Past Plankton.