March 4, 2021
Box Office $4.8 million;
Rated ‘PG’ for rude humor, some thematic elements, and mild language.
Voices of Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Clancy Brown, Rodger Bumpass, Carolyn Lawrence, Mr. Lawrence, Matt Berry, Bill Fagerbakke, Reggie Watts, Tiffany Haddish and Awkwafina with Keanu Reeves, Snoop Dogg and Danny Trejo.
This third installment in the movie franchise based on the Nickelodeon series “SpongeBob SquarePants” is available on the new streaming service Paramount+ for its launch and as a premium VOD rental on digital services. (The film was released theatrically during the summer.)
In the CGI-animated adventure with live action elements, SpongeBob’s beloved pet snail Gary goes missing in a plot hatched by Plankton to get the Krabby Patty recipe. In a boat driven by the wacky robot Otto (voice of Awkwafina), SpongeBob and Patrick head to the Lost City of Atlantic City where King Poseidon has Gary held captive. On the journey, the pair meet a spirit guide tumbleweed Sage (Keanu Reeves) in a live-action, land-based dream sequence at a ghost town. Sage tells them they must meet a challenge involving some “flesh-eating cowboy pirate zombies” in the saloon and a devil character (Danny Trejo). The sequence might be a bit frightening for younger kids, but luckily Snoop Dogg shows up to get the zombies dancing and SpongeBob and Patrick escape.
The two pals eventually make their way to the Lost City, where they end up at Poseidon’s Palace after a gambling spree, spot Gary and are jailed trying to reclaim him. Meanwhile, back in Bikini Bottom, Sandy, Mr. Krabs and even Squidward and Plankton begin to miss SpongeBob and set off to spring him. It all culminates in a big production number on the Palace stage led by the master of ceremonies, voiced by Tiffany Haddish.
Ultimately, everyone learns the value of friendship boosted by several summer camp flashbacks that not-coincidentally help introduce the new Paramount+ original series spinoff “Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years.”
While the movie does include some references and music (Kenny G, Weezer, Snoop Dogg, Ricky Martin) that will appeal to the adults, most of the humor is the kind of slapstick visual gags and puns that kids are familiar with from the television series. Still, one can do worse than spend an hour and a half with the innocent and likable SpongeBob and his gang, who can provide a diverting, light-hearted evening for the family.