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The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run
Review by Rich Cline |
dir-scr Tim Hill
prd Ryan Harris
voices Tom Kenny, Awkwafina, Matt Berry, Clancy Brown, Rodger Bumpass, Bill Fagerbakke, Tiffany Haddish, Carolyn Lawrence, Mr Lawrence, Reggie Watts
with Keanu Reeves, Danny Trejo, Snoop Dogg
release US 14.Aug.20, UK 6.Nov.20
20/US Paramount 1h31
Is it streaming?
This supremely ridiculous franchise is back in big-screen mode for another epic adventure, again using strikingly rendered 3D digital animation. Targeting gamers and stoners as usual, this relentlessly childish movie would be unwatchable if it weren't for the dopily endearing characters and a steady stream of snappy gags. Although with virtually no subtext, the film feels stretched out almost to the breaking point, never more than mindlessly enjoyable.
Living happily under the sea in Bikini Bottom with his pet snail Gary, SpongeBob (Kenny) and his knucklehead starfish pal Patrick (Fagerbakke) delight in pestering their octopus neighbour Squidward (Bumpass), who works with SpongeBob at Krusty Krab. But oceanic ruler Poseidon (Berry) needs a snail to keep his green skin soft, and Gary's last one in the sea. When he's snail-napped, SpongeBob and Patrick travel to The Lost City of Atlantic City to rescue him. After being distracted by the casinos, they're captures by Poseidon. And now they need their friends to rescue them.
All of this mayhem was set in motion by the usual subplot, as the evil Plankton (Mr Lawrence) sends SpongeBob on his quest so he can steal Mr Krabs' (Brown) secret formula. Along the way, there are a few sideroads, including several musical numbers and a live-action Wild West dream sequence involving a wise sage (Reeves) and a zombie dance crew led by the Gambler (Dogg) and ruled by El Diablo (Trejo). There's even a series of flashbacks to the gang when they first met each other as kids.
With its rubbery textures, the animation bursts with colour, and the animators add witty, elaborately expressive faces to the characters. So the voice cast has a lot of fun making this nutty group of critters consistently sparky. The attention to detail in both the imagery and the script is hilarious, packing the fast-paces scenes with more micro-jokes than you can catch. Although this makes the more emotional moments feel cornier than expected.
It's a surprisingly simple movie, with only the odd pop culture reference and fewer puns in the dialog. The themes are also the usual suspects, from a shout-out about how important friends are to learning that the courage is already inside us. More interesting is a subtle comment on how we're not really living our best life if we're not being authentic. This is certainly something writer-director Hill could have dug into just a little bit to make this more than just a bit of engagingly silly fluff. tt4823776
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© 2020 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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