Unfortunately, due to Corona, the third screen adventure of SpongeBob and his friends does not find its way there, but to Netflix. If SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS: A SPONGE TASTIC RESCUE Maybe you’re better off there anyway, we’ll reveal that in our review.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run (USA/KOR 2020)
The plot summary
SpongeBob’s life as a burger maker and (almost) everyone’s favorite in Bikini Bottom goes on smoothly. But his world is turned upside down when his best friend – the pet snail Gary – suddenly disappears. A world collapses for SpongeBob (USA voice: Santiago Ziesmer), but luckily he has his best friend Patrick (Fritz Rott) at his side, who accompanies him on a spectacular mission far from Bikini Bottom to find their pink friend to free the clutches of King Poseidon (Fahri Yardim). Because he has his own plans for Gary…
It is already the third time that the popular cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants has found its way from the afternoon program on Nickelodeon – or in United Kingdom: Super RTL – to the big screen (or Netflix, thanks to Corona). The first feature film from 2004, which was very simply titled “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie” (no one could have guessed back then that there would be more “SpongeBob SquarePants movies”!) still felt like a solid hour and a half Episode of the series, which now has 243 episodes and 465 stories, directors Paul Tibbitt and Mike Mitchell dared to do a lot more eleven years later. In “SpongeBob SquarePants: Sponge Out of the Water” we went – as the film title suggests – out of the two-dimensionally drawn ocean. SpongeBob, Patrick and Co. were able to enjoy three-dimensional CGI images that were allowed to move in the human (= live-action) world for a few selected scenes. An appropriate approach to a series like “SpongeBob SquarePants” that is already known for its anarchic eccentricity and exuberant inventiveness. The third film, “A Sponge-Tastic Rescue,” brings together the strengths of both films, but also the weaknesses of all too obvious cross-promotion – because unfortunately the third “SpongeBob” film often just feels like an overly long teaser for an already announced prequel series .
SpongeBob (Santiago Ziesmer) and his snail Gary are best friends.
That format is called “Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years” and is scheduled to premiere on CBS in 2021. However, the whole thing was done without the involvement of “SpongeBob” creator Stephen Hillenburg, who died unexpectedly in 2018 – and therefore the announcement of a series about the childhood years of the popular “SpongeBob” heroes has been viewed rather critically by fans since its announcement. In “SpongeBob SquarePants: A Sponge-Tastic Adventure” there is already a foretaste of what fans can expect in the coming year. More precisely: a broad test meal instead of an entertaining tasting. The 91 minutes of the film offer several glimpses (ergo: flashbacks) of SpongeBob’s time in Kamp Koral – the kindergarten in Bikini Bottom. As a viewer, you learn for the first time more details about how SpongeBob and his friends actually met. The first meeting between the yellow sponge and his beloved pet snail Gary is particularly touching. But these scenes are, strictly speaking, not necessary in their detail. If they were simply fan service, these scenes could clearly be seen as weak points that slowed down the action, but they could definitely be overcome. For fans of the series, another film adaptation should of course have some added value. But the impression of cross-promotion is inevitable – the corresponding flashbacks simply don’t seem organic enough between the actual plot.
“The third “SpongeBob” cinema adventure “A Sponge-Tastic Rescue” now brings together the strengths of both previous films, but also the weaknesses of all too obvious cross-promotion.”
When SpongeBob and Patrick rattle off all the stages of a typical buddy road movie shortly before starting their rescue odyssey (including an argument between the two main characters because there was another stupid misunderstanding…), the thought immediately comes back to the possibilities a “SpongeBob” film adaptation takes into account its meta-humoristic, anarchic original – but “SpongeBob SquarePants: A Sponge-Tastic Rescue” still ends up following the unwritten rules of the road movie that Sponge and Starfish were previously complaining about. It doesn’t have to be bad – and it isn’t. But this scene illustrates why you constantly have the feeling during the film that director and screenwriter Tim Hill, who, as the writer of various “SpongeBob” series episodes, is very familiar with the original’s equally dry and eccentric humor, is leading with the handbrake on throughout. For a “SpongeBob” movie, the whole “two friends go abroad to save their friend from the clutches of evil” plot is surprisingly straightforward. Creative ricochets such as various guest appearances by well-known Hollywood stars seem almost like a conscious balance to the genre-conform road movie story – one of them, “John Wick” actor Keanu Reeves, was communicated well in advance. As a mixture of future oracle and SpongeBob’s conscience, he guides the two friends through their adventure – of course, Reeves wouldn’t have been needed for that. At the same time, this decision is probably one of the clearest returns to the tonality of the original. Long live chaos!
Patrick (Fritz Rott) and SpongeBob stick together.
In terms of craftsmanship, not much is left of the original. The 2D cartoon look, which today has primarily nostalgic value, is giving way to an elegant, modern CGI look. In terms of detail and recognition value, it is clearly based on the original, so that the mixture of general overhaul and return to the origins should taste good to both long-established fans and new enthusiasts. However, that of the composer legend Hans Zimmer (“Inception”) The score designed for the film, on the other hand, goes down like this – something that you are not used to seeing in Zimmer’s work – but it is a shame. A montage of scenes is more likely to be remembered, for which the makers reflected on the evergreen qualities of the Ricky Martin summer hit “Livin’ la vida loca”. In this we see SpongeBob and Patrick trying out all the advantages of a Las Vegas-like entertainment district – including a trip to the roulette table and wild karaoke excesses. In moments like this, the good mood emanating from the third “SpongeBob” film is downright contagious and makes up for the fact that the previous 3D adventure drags on here and there.
“In terms of craftsmanship, not much is left of the original. The 2D cartoon look, which today has primarily nostalgic value, is giving way to an elegant, modern CGI look.”
“SpongeBob SquarePants: A Sponge-Tastic Rescue” is always fun to watch – unsurprisingly, most of all when the makers focus on the strengths of the original. The third film adaptation also has moments in which the anarchic humor and the dry (voice) performances of the speakers and characters result in a wonderfully bizarre symbiosis and once again make SpongeBob and his friends the kind of cartoon characters that they cannot be found anywhere else different there. That makes it all the more unfortunate that there could have been so much more here.
Conclusion: The third “SpongeBob” movie is a detour to Bikini Bottom that perfectly matches the tone of the original in its best moments, but is quite interchangeable in its weakest moments, which shines in a new, very attractive CGI look.
“SpongeBob SquarePants: A Sponge-Tastic Rescue” is now available to stream on Netflix.