PLOT: You don’t want to mess with a sponge’s pet. When the legendary Poesidon steals Gary the snail from SpongeBob, the yellow hero and his starfish pal Patrick find themselves on a wild adventure in hopes to save the little fella from the egocentric god of the sea.
REVIEW: Just a simple tale of a sponge in the sea. That’s right, the goofily good-natured oceanic creature is back with THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE: SPONGE ON THE RUN. And for fans of the popular Nickelodeon cartoon character, there’s a good chance you’ll embrace him on his latest adventure. It’s a funny story about good old SpongeBob trying to save Gary, his pet snail, from a particularly vain Poseidon with a real love for snail juice. It’s as weird as it sounds. Albeit, it’s pretty darn enjoyable. Add in a sage that looks like Keanu Reeves, a deadly El Diablo that will remind one of Danny Trejo, with a bit of Snoop Dogg thrown in, and you have a sequel sure to please all of you who know the SpongeBob theme song. You’re thinking of it right now, aren’t you?
SpongeBob (Tom Kelly) loves his pet snail, Gary. It’s a beautiful relationship the two pals share, but one that is put in serious jeopardy. You see, Poseidon (Matt Berry) has a thing for snail juice. He loves it so much he’s willing to steal for it. When SpongeBob arrives home after work to find that Gary is gone, he desperately searches for his beloved pet. With the news that his best pal was taken by the legendary god of the sea, both he and Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke) head out on a magical adventure. Will they save poor Gary before the jerky Poseidon uses him all up? Or will they keep getting sidetracked and arrive too late? Well, I certainly won’t spoil it for you.
Sponge on the Run opens with narration by the film’s writer and director Tim Hill. His introduction brings us deep into the ocean to once again visit SpongeBob, Patrick, Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown), Squidward (Rodger Bumpass), Plankton (Mr. Lawrence), and Sandy (Carolyn Lawrence). One scene that only a true enthusiast can fully appreciate is the morning ritual of SpongeBob and Patrick sending each other an overly exuberant “GOOD MORNING,” driving Squidward insane. As ridiculous as it is, the lighthearted nature of this will remind folks just how annoying, yet shockingly lovable, the relationship between the two can be. And for the most part, the new feature follows a very familiar path.
While the plot is ridiculously simple, the new film offers much of the charm that the series had. As annoying as that crazy sponge can get, it’s such a shockingly adorable character. And one of the most enjoyable features of this installment is how they react to new characters like “Sage.” Keanu Reeves is the perfect fit as the tongue-in-cheek serious and knowing bushy plant. Right in the center of this ball of sage is the face of Keanu. The dialogue between him and the film’s stars is consistently delightful. As well, both Snoop Dogg and Danny Trejo add a whole lot of fun to the mix. However, it is Reeves and his charming relationship with his new dimwit pals that really seals the deal.
As much as this feels like a SpongeBob movie, I wasn’t quite sold on the flashbacks. The new film explores the early friendship between Spongy and Gary, as well as the love he shares with his starfish buddy. While this flick embraces the weird and the wild with random cameos and odd sequences that wouldn’t make sense in any other series, the overtly cute past sequences feel out of place. Perhaps it was simply a way to expand this story into a feature film, and they are used sparingly enough as to not take away from the bold humor that SpongeBob is known for. Sure it’s a cartoon, but do we need them to be that adorable? It’s not the perfect mix, but thankfully those sequences are a small portion of this sequel.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run will please fans of the original series, as well as the previous films. Much of the goofy energy that came before is here in spades. And frankly, the entire relationship between the main character and his pet snail is so damn cute that you’re willing to forgive some of the weaker scenes. The celebrity cameos are a blast – hey, even Awkwafina shows up – and the script by Hill is full of moments that help remind you why so many fans still adore this character. This is an easy recommendation for fans of all things Sponge and Bob. Perhaps next time, however, we’ll have a little less of the cute and cuddly as they do here with the young versions of these crazy sea-dwelling creatures.