The 1999 Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards is notable for several reasons. Some of us might remember it for the night Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore (“The Wedding Singer”) swept the “favorite actor/actress” category. Others might remember the powerhouse performance of Britney Spears, live from Universal CityWalk in Orlando. However, the most notable, famous, and impactful event from that year’s show didn’t even happen until after host Rosie O’Donnell said her goodbyes and the final tank of slime was dropped. I am of course talking about the premiere of SpongeBob Squarepants.
By Joseph Spencer
Spongebob has gone on to air continuously for over 20 years and has inspired theme park attractions, spin-off series, and even an honest to god Broadway Musical. Most notable though, are its three feature films, the newest of which, “The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run” premieres on the new streaming service Paramount+ on March 4, 2021. Like its two predecessors, as well as the series on which it’s based, “Sponge on the Run” is a madcap, absurd adventure that will be fun for adults who grew up on the series and children who are still discovering it to this day.
“The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run”, has a pretty basic premise: Spongebob’s pet snail Gary is kidnapped by the vain King Poseidon (voiced with devilish glee by “What We Do In The Shadows” star Matt Berry), who needs his slime to keep himself looking young and handsome. It’s up to Spongebob and his best friend Patrick to track him down and save Gary. The duo’s adventures take them first to an old west ghost town, where they meet the mystical tumbleweed, Sage. Sage is played by a celebrity, whose involvement in this film was a surprise that I dare not spoil for you, but trust me when I say that it is a delightful cameo. Sage helps the duo in their quest and reveals to them that Gary is being kept at Poseidon’s Palace, in the “lost city of Atlantic City”. What follows is a romp through a city clearly based on Las Vegas in the early to mid-1990s, complete with roller coasters, gambling, and Ricky Martin songs.
There are two notable things about “Sponge on the Run”, with the first being the fact that this is the first of the Spongebob films to be animated entirely via computer graphics rather than the usual 2D, hand-drawn look we’re all used to. Overall, the change in animation style works really well and gives the movie a kind of claymation vibe, which is more in line with the holiday special “It’s a SpongeBob Christmas!” than any other episode in the series. The other thing to keep in mind is this film is meant to serve as a pseudo pilot for the upcoming Paramount+ series “Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years“, which serves as a prequel series for the characters and their time at the aforementioned Kamp Koral (which, strangely, is spelled “Camp Coral” in the film, but I digress). This bit of story-synergy isn’t really too obtrusive in the narrative of “Sponge on the Run” until late in its third act, when the constant flashbacks to the series drag what should be the climax to a dead halt.
Ultimately, “The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run” is a fun movie, that borders on the absurd. It will never be mistaken for high art, but sometimes, you just want to laugh while Spongebob and Patrick cavort around “The Lost City of Atlantic City”, while “Livin’ La Vida Loca” plays in the background, and frankly, that’s enough.
“The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run” premieres on Paramount+ on March, 4 2021. The first six episodes of “Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years” will also be available that same day on the network. The movie is rated PG and there is a short after-credits scene.
In The Parks:
You can meet Spongebob, Patrick, Squidward and more fishy friends, and see their parade float at Universal Studios Florida. You can also see Gary in the Spongebob Storepants in the park. Some of the characters also meet guests at Universal Studios Hollywood.
Paramount+ is inviting SoCal SpongeBob fans to a drive-through experience and exclusive drive-in screening of the all-new movie “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run” on Feb. 27 and Feb. 28, 2021, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Here’s a look: