• Stephen Jones

Is SpongeBob a square? - The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run

If someone calls you a square then it usually infers that you’re a boring, conventional stick in the mud who is reluctant and unwilling to change their ways. Ironically a trait that has become all too common with the pants-wearing sponge. The SpongeBob SquarePants rhetoric has been stale for quite some time now, and if you were hoping for a fresh order in this latest offering- The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run, unfortunately, it may leave you disappointed...


The film follows SpongeBob as he travels to the Lost City of Atlantic City where he tries to retrieve his sea snail- Gary who has been "snailnapped" by King Poseidon. A dramatic, and vain King, Poseidon requires Gary’s slime to rub on his face in order to stay youthful (Nivea for Men not good enough?).

If you're a SpongeBob SquarePants fan, then you have an indication of how the plot will play out for Sponge on the Run. Of course, I’m talking about Plankton and his seemingly diabolical plan to whisk away the Krabby Patty secret formula from under the nose of Eugene Krabs.


The minuscule copepod has drafted up yet another evil plan, becoming number 3087, as Plankton once again attempts to make the Chum Bucket the best eatery in Bikini Bottom and send the Krusty Krab into bankruptcy. Having deja vu? That’s probably because this has been the plot for the majority of the series and franchise as a whole for most of its lifetime.


But, you know what they say? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Watching Plankton go after the secret Krabby Patty formula is expected and always makes for some great moments.


Yet at times, this movie feels like they've sandwiched a bunch of old storyboards together and said- yep, that will get a few laughs. Sponge on the Run is still a family-friendly experience that plays to the strengths of Bikini Bottoms’ well-developed characters, that provide us with those laughs and wacky scenes we expect. But is there anything we haven't seen before?


The new style animation and sheer randomness make Sponge on the Run a blissful watch. But the film doesn't push boundaries and just regurgitates familiar storylines. It does still manage to make it a humorous experience from start to finish. It may be labelled as a kids movie, but Sponge on the Run is chock-filled with underlying adult and sexual humour... If you’re willing to use your imagination.


This is the first film in the franchise to be completely animated in stylised CGI rather than SpongeBob SquarePants’ traditional 2D look. The pay off was spectacular - an extravaganza of colour and light as we see the features of these beloved characters pop out at us like never before. SpongeBob’s holes are now so defined that you can make out smaller craters inside. Squidward’s nose is now more prominent than ever, and Sandy’s cheeks are just as fluffy and squirrel-like as you'd expect.


But the star of this CGI bonanza is the Krabby Patty. The animation gives this sandwich a new lease of life. The pickles are ridged to perfection, the lettuce is crimped, and the patty looks more tantalizing than ever. It’s no wonder Plankton wants to steal the formula. When something looks this good then even the most honourable would find it hard not to pine after the patty.

The stumbling block for this movie, however, is still the plot. I’ve got no doubt that the kids of today will feast on the films’ colourful combinations and countless idiotic Patrick Star moments.


But, hardcore fans of the SpongeBob SquarePants franchise will be disappointed. This is a show that has been our of TV screens since 1999 and Sponge on the Run offered nothing new. It's a stagnant display of old jokes, old motives, and presents us with an old King who is hellbent on keeping his youth and power intact.

The randomness can be overbearing, perfectly shown when flesh-eating cowboy pirate zombies start dancing in a saloon. The scene finishes off by a rap cameo from street legend Snoop Dogg.


Hollywood elite Keanu Reeves even finds himself in the film, as he plays Sage, a ball of tumbleweed that acts as SpongeBob and Patrick's spiritual guide throughout the movie.

The appearances of both Snoop and Reeves are not memorable, as they are too random and feel forced into the film.


Plenty of side-splitting moments can be found with standouts like Squidward blowing up the Krusty Krab griddle or Plankton’s gadgets requiring him to insert coins for them to work. But they, unfortunately, don't compare to what has come before.

In 2005, we were gifted with The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, which saw the porous sponge deal with King Neptune as he tries to recover his majesty’s crown from Shell City. It created so many memorable moments, such as the ‘Now That We’re Men’ song and the unforgettable cameo from a certain David Hasselhoff.


In 2015, we got The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water with the main storyline being a team-up between SpongeBob and Plankton as they try to rescue the Krabby Patty formula from Burger Beard (Antonio Banderas). The sequel gave us a blend of CGI, live-action, and 2D, for a surprisingly fun ride.


The third instalment though doesn’t have any defining moments like its predecessors. The writing for previous movies was much stronger, and that is by no means any disrespect to Tim Hill, Jonathan Aibel, or Glenn Berger who are fantastic wordsmiths.


It is touching that The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run is a dedication to show creator Stephen Hillenburg, who died in 2018. It's testament to the fact that SpongeBob SquarePants has brought so much joy to people from around the world, and it will continue to do so for many years to come.


Sponge on the Run is a journey that plays up to the quirkiness of Hillenburg’s under the sea creatures, if not becoming a cliché to itself. It's great as a family watch, and with a few laughs, just don’t expect anything new on the menu anytime soon...


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