Sponge on the Run (2020) Review
Updated: Oct 18, 2021
EVERYBODY’S favourite absorbent yellow friend returns in The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, the third feature film for the animation icon.
Sponge on the Run is dedicated to the show’s creator, Stephen Hillenburg, who passed away on November 26, 2018, at the age of 57 following a long battle with ALS.
Originally set to be released in May earlier this year, Tim Hill’s Sponge on the Run was indefinitely delayed due to the subsequent closing of cinemas nation-wide as a result of coronavirus, causing the animated feature to be released exclusively on streaming services at the beginning of November.
But has the change from movie theatre to home theatre benefited SpongeBob’s latest adventure, or has it left our absorbent friend all dried up?
After his pet snail, Gary, has been snail-napped, SpongeBob and his best friend Patrick travel to the Lost City of Atlantic City to reclaim his beloved pet from the egotistical King Poseidon.
Gary going missing is not a new plot device for the cartoon, but Sponge on the Run adds thin layers to the story by showing how SpongeBob met his life-long friend through flashbacks to his time spent at Camp Coral when he was a child.
SpongeBob’s constant flashbacks to Camp Coral are used to further establish relationships between other characters in the movie, including how he met Patrick, Sandy, Mr Krabs and Squidward.
Squidward’s introduction to our yellow protagonist was one of the highlights in the movie as it shows that while he may not care for SpongeBob as a friend, Squidward still respects and loves him as a person.
SpongeBob and Patrick encounter several surprising faces throughout their journey to Atlantic City, with the most prominent appearance being Keanu Reeves as a tumbleweed guru.
Reeves’ performance as a sage made of literal sage was a fantastic addition to the world of SpongeBob. His continuous quips to both discourage and encourage SpongeBob and Patrick always lands, particularly towards the film’s climax where our protagonists inevitably learn their lesson and triumph over Poseidon, who was also a welcome addition to the film.
Sponge on the Run’s animation feels completely distinct and achieves that perfect mix of 2-D animation from 2004’s SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, and 3-D animation from 2015’s Sponge Out of Water.
The film borrows cell-shaded elements and combines it with bright and colourful CGI to create a form of animation that allows for more expressive characters and environments which never feels out of place in the world of Bikini Bottom.
Although I was looking forward to checking out my favourite childhood show return to the big screen, Sponge on the Run is one of the few movies that has benefited from being released on streaming services this year.
Sponge on the Run features tremendous comedy, heart-warming moments between unexpected characters, and phenomenal vocal performances given by new actors and original cast members.
SpongeBob’s latest feature film isn’t a masterpiece by any means, but if you want a movie that lovingly pays tribute to Stephen Hillenburg and will keep you entertained for 90 minutes.