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Blu-ray Review: The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run

February 4, 2021

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run is the third feature length adventure for the cartoon sea sponge, and also the first fully computer generated one. The result is something that, while far from being the best SpongeBob movie (which is still the 2004 original), still serves as an amusing enough adventure that offers a fairly enjoyable diversion if you like the characters.

The plot revolves around the bond between SpongeBob (Tom Kenny) and his beloved pet snail Gary. When Gary is kidnapped by Plankton (Mr. Lawrence) and given to the vain King Poseidon (Matt Berry), who uses snail slime as facial moisturizer, SpongeBob sets out on road trip with his best buddy Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke) to rescue his pet from the Lost City of Atlantic City.

This basic road trip structure allows the film to offer constant action, a barrage of gags, as well as the random weirdness that we can expect from SpongeBob. This includes the scene-stealing presence of Keanu Reeves as a wise sage named Sage who appears as a disembodied head in a rolling tumbleweed, and a sequence in a saloon populated by flesh-eating cowboy pirate zombies. We are also treated to some fun cameos, and there is an amusing Vegas-inspired montage in the Lost City of Atlantic City. Much of this is easily entertaining, but the plot itself also feels a little too disjointed at times.

Directed by Tim Hill, one of the developers of the show and a writer on the original movie, Sponge on the Run ends up serving as a prelude to the new spinoff series Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years, which is set to premiere next month. It’s worth noting that, while the film is dedicated to SpongeBob’s late creator Stephen Hillenburg, he was incidentally against the idea of doing a spinoff.

We get several flashbacks to when the characters first met at summer camp as children, and these sequences feel somewhat shoe-horned into the plot, with a tone and feel that doesn’t quite match the rest of it. This causes Sponge on the Run to end up feeling stuck between being a standalone adventure and an unofficial pilot for the new show, and I’m also not sure if these new backstories even fit with the already established canon of the original series.

The animation here is mostly decent and has an interesting depth to it that is somewhere between 2D and 3D, but the visuals also look a bit rushed at times, and the new computer generated designs of some of the characters does take a bit of getting used to. Visually, I would say that the the film actually looks a little closer to the stop-motion holiday specials than it does the 2D show, which does allow it to stand apart from the previous two movies.

While I think the film’s parts are ultimately better than the whole, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run is still an enjoyable enough film to watch, despite its shortcomings. The film does do a fairly nice job of paying tribute to the earnest friendship between SpongeBob and Patrick, and the basic heart of the story, about the bond between SpongeBob and his pet Gary, is also pretty sweet.

Finally, it’s also interesting to note that Sponge on the Run is arriving on Blu-ray in Canada this week, a full month before it will premiere in the United States on the Paramount+ streaming service. It already received a limited theatrical run in Canada last year, after the pandemic completely upended its release plans, allowing us to get the film first. The fact that we received a new SpongeBob movie first might not be the biggest thing to brag about, but hey, at least it’s something.

Bonus Features (Blu-ray):

The Blu-ray comes with a selection of bonus features, which are divided into sections. A digital copy is also included in the package.

I’m Urchin You to Leave Mini-Movie (4 minutes, 50 seconds): A new short set at Camp Coral with younger versions of SpongeBob, Patrick and Squidward (Rodger Bumpass). Not sure if it will be part of the show, or just something created for the disc.

Campfire Songs (10 minutes, 43 seconds)

“Agua” Music Video by Tainy & J. Balvin (3 minutes, 2 seconds)

“How We Do” Lyric Video by Snoop Dogg and Monsta X (1 minute, 24 seconds)

“Krabby Step” Lyric Video by Tyda, Swae Lee & Lil Mosey (3 minutes, 27 seconds)

“Agua” Lyric Video by Tainy & J. Balvin (2 minutes, 49 seconds)

Campfire Stories (4 minutes, 19 seconds)

Deleted Storyboard: Wake Up (3 minutes, 9 seconds)

Deleted Storyboard: Sumo Ninja (1 minutes, 13 seconds)

Camp Coral Buddies (7 minutes, 29 seconds)

The Ballad of SpongeBob and Patrick! (5 minutes, 1 seconds): The best of the bonus features, this featurette looks at the development of the film and how the friendship between SpongeBob and Patrick informs the series.

I Heart Camp Coral by SpongeBob SquarePants (2 minutes, 28 seconds): SpongeBob narrates this brief look through a scrapbook from his Camp Coral days.

Camp Arts and Crafts (17 minutes, 28 seconds)

Drawing the Cutest Camper Ever (9 minutes, 19 seconds): Artist Perry Maple teaches us how to draw young SpongeBob from the film’s flashbacks.

Drawing the Cutest Snail Ever (6 minutes, 4 seconds): Maple teaches us how to draw young Gary the Snail.

The Amazing Stages of Animation (2 minutes, 12 seconds): Fagerbakke narrates this brief rundown of the different stages of animation (storyboards, layout, animation, texture & lighting).

But Wait… There’s S’mores!

The Wonders of the Patty Mobile (2 minutes, 6 seconds): A fake commercial for the upgraded Patty Wagon, narrated by Sandy Cheeks (Carolyn Lawrence).

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run is a Paramount Home Entertainment release. It’s 91 minutes and rated G.

Street Date: February 2nd, 2021

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