Funnily enough, things don't start off too bad. We get introduced to the main gang: Spongebob, Patrick, Mr Krabs, Sandy, Squidward and Plankton engaging in their typical everyday routine, and there are a few grin-worthy moments. The new CGI animation takes some getting used to, but overall it isn't a huge problem.
The downward spiral begins when Sandy invents a new robot, which acts as the plot point for a turn of events as Gary, Spongebob's pet snail, gets mollusc-napped. This unfunny bucket of bolts constantly talks nonsense, punctuated by random utterances of 'You're Fired'. Whether this is meant to be a spoof of soon-to-be-ex president Donald Trump in his Apprentice days who can say, but the perpetually unamusing antics of this creation provide a low bar for what is to follow.
Spongebob and Patrick go off to rescue their snail friend, and there is a completely pointless diversion into an old western set with a cameo from Snoop Dogg and an extended role from Keanu Reeves as a rolling ball of hay. Apparently, he's meant to be some sort of 'sage', but his lame platitudes and attempts at wit provide no break from the non-stop idiocy that surrounds him. How they managed to get him in this film I don't know: maybe his kid was a huge fan of the cartoon and they blackmailed him with that. The things we do for our children...
Oh yes, back to the 'story', as it is. Apparently sending Spongebob off to rescue Gary was another of Plankton's hare-brained schemes, so he could steal the secret formula. After seeing how broken-up Mr Krabs is at the loss of his best fry cook though, the small villain decides to GASP grow a conscience and 'fess up. So now the rest of Spongebob's buddies are on a mission to rescue the yellow one, who's got himself captured by a vain sea king. The old king is the one who wanted Gary you see, on account of the snail's slime having age-rejuvenating properties, and... yes, I felt a tiny bit stupider just typing that out.
Not half as stupid though, as the random flashbacks we get of Spongebob meeting and helping the rest of his pals in 'Kamp Krusty', destined to be a future spin-off of the series very soon. That's right... the film's only reason for existing (apart from maybe as a novel torture device) is to introduce us to this crappy cash-in, along with the other two that are planned: one with Patrick, and one with Squidward. Yikes. That's a lot of terrible cartoons to avoid. How will I cope?!
The fact they had to wait until after the creator died to make these is disgusting enough, but then we get to the WORST part of the film by far. Yes, while these sappy flashbacks are unveiling, we get each citizen of Bikini Bottom weeping to an attentive crowd about how much they LOVE Spongebob and how they can't live without him. Yes, even Squidward and Mr Krabs. Now, I don't mind the occasional mild hint in the show that these two characters care about him, but oh no... this movie goes FULL ON about how much they adore him despite all their previous actions and statements to the contrary. GAG. Some of the recent seasons have been accused of being too mean... this completely flips the switch and becomes a sugary-sweet ordeal which'll have you reaching for the sick bucket before it's all over.
Then we get an equally saccharine music number I had to mute before it was over, followed by yet ANOTHER moral about 'it doesn't matter what you look like, it's what's inside that counts'. (Gee, how many million times have we heard THAT old chestnut) before a cheesy ending that oddly enough, rips off the conclusion of the We Bare Bears TV movie. That WBB film officially wrapped up that particular show... if only the same could be said for this utter travesty.
Where has the hilarious and smart cartoon of my youth gone? Squeezed of all it's life that's what, over too many seasons for nothing but financial reasons. And with three more uninspired pieces of trash on the horizon to further tarnish its legacy, it looks like the flogging of the dead seahorse will continue for quite a while.
Well, you can count me out. I'll stick to the first few seasons and the previous two movies, all of which were MUCH better than this. And they weren't trying to sell us a pup on the side, either. Sponge On The Run? Run away from it. As fast as you can. Trust me on this. 3/10