The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run was set for a cinema release this summer before you-know-what affected every movie going. Paramount then struck a deal with Netflix to debut the movie on the streaming platform everywhere except the US, Canada and China.
US fans will have to wait until next year to see the third SpongeBob movie when it gets a PVOD and CBS All Access release. However, UK fans can watch it now on Netflix as it was released today (November 5), just as England goes back into a second lockdown.
At the best of times, movies can be an escape from the world and if you press play on Sponge on the Run, you'll be guaranteed 90 mins of glorious weirdness to make you forget you're living in 2020.
The plot, not that you watch SpongeBob SquarePants for the story, sees Plankton launch another devious plan to steal the Krabby Patty formula which, again, is unwittingly foiled by SpongeBob.
As Karen points out, it's actually always SpongeBob who ruins his plans, not Mr Krabs. Fortunately, an opportunity comes for Plankton to get SpongeBob out of Bikini Bottom when King Poseidon needs a sea snail for his beauty treatments.
SpongeBob's beloved Gary is soon "snailnapped" by the king (how dare he), setting SpongeBob and Patrick on a road trip to The Lost City of Atlantic City to rescue Gary and bring him home.
Really though, this is just the setup for a series of increasingly weird adventures for the delightful duo, which sees them meet Keanu Reeves as Sage ("I'm made out of sage, and I am a sage"), save the souls of flesh-eating cowboy pirate zombies, perform a show number at Atlantic City and battle with Danny Trejo's El Diablo.
Yes, things get as random as you'd expect from a SpongeBob SquarePants outing, but there's no other franchise that can deliver it with such charm and warmth, while somehow ensuring that it (kind of) makes total sense.
It's a formula that's been well-honed for more than two decades and Sponge on the Run proves the old adage that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
There's a lot to be said about the pleasing familiarity of something in a year where things have turned out to be anything-but-expected. It's this that makes it feel as though the movie is arriving at the perfect time to give viewers a sense of reuniting with an old friend, especially if you haven't kept up with the TV show.
It could well be that there's a generation of SpongeBob fans who stopped watching when they got older. Sponge on the Run being released on Netflix makes it more likely they'll give it a chance, and if they do, they'll remember exactly what they loved about the show and how things in Bikini Bottom remain as winningly chaotic as ever.
Alongside this, Sponge on the Run is helped by some perfect casting choices, led by Keanu Reeves as the sentient tumbleweed made of sage. Who wouldn't want Reeves following them around, doling out wisdom and telling them the best way to lead their life? We'd take that any year, let alone in 2020.
Reeves isn't alone either as Matt Berry also proves an inspired choice as the vain King Poseidon, while there are fun cameos for Danny Trejo as El Diablo and Snoop Dogg, who drops into proceedings for a musical performance (because, of course).
Add in some cute flashbacks to SpongeBob's childhood, and you have a movie that not only delivers for SpongeBob fans, but also packs enough joy for anybody in need of a break from the depressing news cycle.
We never thought that SpongeBob SquarePants could be the saviour of 2020, but like the character himself, it (kind of) makes total sense in this year.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run is now available to watch on Netflix, excluding the US, Canada and China.
US audiences will be able to watch it on premium digital rental services and streaming service CBS AllAccess from early 2021.
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