Nickelodeon and Paramount’s latest Spongebob Squarepants cinematic offering, Sponge on the Run, is the absolute worst of the franchise’s movie offerings. Originally planned for big screen release in 2020, those plans were scrapped as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It ended up going straight to streaming before being released to Blu-ray and DVD last month. There is really nothing about this movie that makes it memorable. Its story is the first of its failings and will be discussed shortly. The bonus content that accompanies the movie in its home physical release is just as problematic as the story itself. It will be discussed a little later. The movie’s animation style is also problematic and will also be discussed later. Each item noted shows in its own way what makes this movie so disappointing. All things considered, they are going to make this movie the most forgettable of the Spongebob Squarepants movies to date.
The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run is hopefully going to be the absolute last of the movies from the series that started as a little show that could so many years ago on Nickelodeon. There is nothing redeeming about this movie. The movie’s story is the most glaring of its concerns. The story, at its heart, is just another story about Plankton trying to steal the Krabby Patty formula from Mr. Krabs. It essentially plays out as follows: Plankton’s computer wife, Karen, makes him realize that it has been not Mr. Krabs, but Spongebob who has ultimately prevented Plankton from getting the formula. So in finally realizing and accepting this, he uses King Poseidon’s hunt for snail slime (which he apparently uses to cure facial issues like lines, bags, etc.) and kidnaps Spongebob’s snail pal Gary and takes him to King Poseidon. This leads Spongebob and pal Patrick Star to go on a road trip to find Gary. With Spongebob out of the way, Plankton finally gets the formula, but of course his victory is short-lived. Mr. Krabs, Sandy, and Squidward eventually go in search of Spongebob and have to save him from an untimely end because Spongebob had tried to save Gary from Poseidon’s grasp. That final act (and much of the movie) throws in plenty of promotion for the new CG-based Spongebob Squarepants series, Camp Coral. Keeping all of that in mind, on the one hand, this is just another story about Plankton trying to get the Krabby Patty formula. It has been the basis of so much of the series’ content on television and in the franchise’s other movies. On the other hand, it is also clearly a blatant way for Nickelodeon and Paramount to promote the noted series, which completely ignores canon of the original Spongebob Squarepants television series. Taking all of that into account with the equally unnecessary celebrity cameos (Snoop Dogg, Mickey Rourke, and Keanu Reeves) and the equally unnecessary musical numbers, and what audiences get is a story that felt like it was just tossed together with hope that audiences would overlook it all. Given, this critic’s 8 year-old son is proof that children will definitely overlook all the noted problems, but adults with any common sense will see all the problems and realize just how dumbed down and awful this presentation becomes overall.
The problematic story at the heart of this movie is just part of its failing. The bonus content (or really lack thereof) makes the movie even less enjoyable. Every one of the bonus features in the movie’s home physical release focuses in one way or another on Camp Coral, yet again proving that this movie is ultimately just one big way for Nickelodeon and Paramount to promote that series, which is itself completely forgettable. There are art segments that show how Spongebob is drawn for that series. There is also a feature about Spongebob’s Camp Coral pals, and even a “mini-movie” taken from the series. That those behind this movie’s presentation would even call this feature a “mini-movie” is disappointing. It is a short. Even when it is played, it is called a short on screen. That is a far cry from a mini-movie. Mini-movie hints that it would be about half the time of the movie, which runs approximately 91 minutes. This “mini-movie” runs maybe six or seven minutes. Yet again, this is just so problematic, especially considering that this and the other bonus content clearly is just another blatant marketing means for Camp Coral. It is just more disappointment for this overall presentation. It is still not the last of the problems presented in this presentation. The animation style poses its own problem.
The animation style of Sponge on the Run is full on CG. It just does not look nearly as wonderful as that rough style used in the series’ infancy. Given, it is hardly the first time that the franchise’s creative heads have gone this route. Some of the latest Spongebob TV holiday specials (mainly Halloween and Christmas) have all used their own stop motion/CG hybrid approaches. The result of those approaches is really appealing in its own way, but the approach taken here is just ugly throughout. It shows that some things simply should not go the CG route. That aesthetic element may seem minor on the surface, but the reality is that the look makes it hard in itself to watch. When the difficulty wanting to keep watching that unappealing look is joined with a story that is just as awful and forgettable, and equally forgettable bonus content, the whole becomes a presentation that is absolutely the worst of the Spongebob Squarepants franchise’s cinematic offerings and one of this year’s worst movies, too.
The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run is the absolute worst entry yet in the Spongebob Squarepants cinematic series. It does nothing to help build the legacy of the series, which really stopped being enjoyable after its fifth season. That is proven in large part through its story. The story is just another tale of another of Plankton’s efforts to steal the Krabby Patty formula. On a secondary note, it is also a blatant machine for Nickelodeon and Paramount officials to market the new Spongebob Squarepants series, Camp Coral. That in itself is pathetic. Add in the fact that Camp Coral does not even stick to canon from the original series, and it makes that aspect even more disappointing and worthy of criticism. The bonus content that accompanies the movie in its home physical presentation is even more marketing for Camp Coral, making for even more criticism. It makes it seem even more, that this movie was really just an excuse for Nickelodeon and Paramount officials to market the noted streaming series. The animation style used in the movie rounds out the most important of this movie’s problems. Its aesthetic effect makes it just as difficult to watch this movie as the movie’s content. Each item examined here is important in its way in showing why this movie is so bad. All things considered, they make Sponge on the Run the worst of the Spongebob Squarepants movies yet and one of this year’s worst movies overall.
The Spongebo Movie: Sponge on the Run is available now on DVD and Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. More information on this and all things Spongebob Squarepants is available at:
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