The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run is a cross between The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. Despite the mini revival that SpongeBob SquarePants experienced when late creator Stephen Hillenburg returned to the series, the show was way too zany for me to keep watching it. Watching Nickelodeon’s third theatrical movie was more casual for me since I only watch new episodes that are a big deal. Like the anniversary special for example. Although Sponge on the Run was originally meant to premiere in between season 12, the pandemic pushed it to Paramount+ instead. Since traditional animation was dead in the 2010’s, stylized computer animation was used for the second time in the series.
Though it sometimes looks more like a video game, it’s still a shame that I couldn’t experience it on the big screen. Even though Sponge on the Run is pretty middle of the road for me. Series developer Tim Hill understood SpongeBob, but it’s just not laugh out loud like it used to be. The story feels pretty low stakes and similar to past movies and/or episodes. SpongeBob’s beloved pet snail Gary goes missing just like “Have You Seen this Snail?” SpongeBob & Patrick hit the road in search of a mythical city just like the first movie. The only difference is the destination being Atlantic City and the ruler of the seas being the never before seen King Poseidon. It’s just not as clever when he only takes Gary for his slime.
There’s a truly out of nowhere live-action segment just like Sponge Out of Water. The only celebrity worth mentioning is Keanu Reeves as a bizarre tumbleweed sage. Then there’s the expected stuff like Plankton trying to steal the Krabby Patty formula, but giving up unceremoniously. Plankton’s computer wife Karen tells him to get rid of SpongeBob and the movie is suddenly about Mr. Krabs, Squidward, and Sandy realizing they miss him. SpongeBob & Patrick also fight, but it was all an excuse to set up a childhood prequel spin-off called Kamp Koral (that Hillenburg was totally against). Is Nickelodeon really gonna defile his grave for money? Of course they are! Sponge on the Run looks good and has a sweet message, but it’s just another excuse to keep the nautical nonsense going forever.
Preceded by: The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water