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The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run | Review



Remember the time when SpongeBob SquarePants was an insanely creative children’s television program, filled with colorful characters, the best kind of childish humor, and an overall positive vibe? Remember that? If you were a child that grew up in the early 2000s, you probably remember SpongeBob‘s peak era. I watched it religiously as a child, which prompted me to force my parents to subject themselves to the 2004 film, co-directed by the late Stephen Hillenburg.

In my opinion, SpongeBob stopped being good after episode 105a aired (The Splinter). It slowly started kowtowing to gross-out body humor, the jokes became less creative, and storylines were repeated. After the [excellent] 2015 film Sponge Out of Water, I personally felt it was time to retire SpongeBob. A third movie was the perfect opportunity to give the beloved character one last adventure with his best friends, whilst at the same time celebrating Hillenburg’s career, who tragically passed away from ALS in 2018. However, it took the death of Hillenburg for Nickelodeon to start milking the cow of SpongeBob and craft its latest film, Sponge on the Run, as the backdoor for neverending spin-off shows for Paramount’s new streaming service, Paramount+. The end result is a half-fun, half soul-crushing experience that will leave some of SpongeBob’s most die-hard fans disappointed by seeing a transmedial franchise continue without its creator and a sense of finality.

Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run' skips theatre run for digital debut

The plot follows the same storyline from Have You Seen This Snail? (63), where SpongeBob (Tom Kenny)’s snail, Gary, is lost (again!). This time, however, he is kidnapped by Plankton (Mr. Lawrence), who delivers Gary to King Poseidon (Matt Berry) so he can use Gary’s saliva to rejuvenate his skin (I kid you not). What happens next? SpongeBob and Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke) go on a road trip to find and rescue Gary from the “evil” clutches of Posideon.

The “road trip” is as formulaic as you’d expect, since this storyline has already been done in the 2004 film, but some of it is very good. There are times where I was brought back to the early days of SpongeBob SquarePants when it wasn’t about gross-out humor or easily childish jokes. In SpongeBob’s peak era, the jokes served a purpose to the story and the characters, making them more compelling than they already were. There are expressions of that in Sponge on the Run, particularly with SpongeBob and Patrick’s chemistry. When they annoy Squidward Tentacles (Rodger Bumpass) during its opening scene, by repeating “Goooood morning Patrick!”, “Gooood morning Spongebob!” until the joke climaxes to “Gooood morning Squidward!”, the voice acting and comedic timing felt like pure Hillenburg SpongeBob.

The voice acting, from Kenny, Fagerbakke, Bumpass, Clancy Brown as Mr. Krabs, and Mr. Lawrence, retains Hillenburg’s spirit, and many physical gags are created in that same vein. One great addition to the voice cast is Awkwafina as Otto, a robot who has its share of hilarious jokes. One scene, in particular, involving Mr. Krabs getting the robot from Sandy (Carolyn Lawrence) had me howling. It felt, oh, so refreshing to see care for SpongeBob again after the television series has well overstayed its welcome. Those jokes feel like a set-up for the end of SpongeBob, as it celebrates its heart and retains its pure, freeing, childish spirit. The 3D animation is also surprisingly good, giving the audience a fresh new look at Bikini Bottom and bringing eye-popping, lush colors to Poseidon’s kingdom, The Lost City of Atlantic City. Still, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the simple 2D animation of the first two films. When it went into 3D, in Sponge Out of Water, it had a purpose because the characters went “out of the water.” In Sponge on the Run, there is no difference in style and aesthetic between the hybrid sequences and the purely animated ones.

Netflix's SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run: Keanu Reeves' Sage steals the  show |

Speaking of hybrid sequences, the one scene mixing live-action and animation feels inherently pointless and is only there “just because” the previous two films did it. The celebrity cameos from Keanu Reeves (who then becomes a supporting character), Snoop Dogg, and Danny Trejo are fun (I guess) but are also inherently pointless. There was no reason for Snoop Dogg to magically cameo, save for giving a badly directed and choreographed musical number. There was also no reason for Danny Trejo to be in the film, save for a bad physical joke involving an eclectic mesh of cowboys, pirates, and zombies. All of these jokes feel like second-grade humor and stop the story from moving forward for a good fifteen minutes. Still, this isn’t SpongeBob at its most creatively inept. That comes later.

In one sequence, as SpongeBob and Patrick are on the cusp of execution from King Poseidon, the audience will witness SpongeBob SquarePants’ death. Not by execution, but through Tim Hill’s screenplay. The entire sequence serves as a set-up to endless spinoffs and prequel series from SpongeBob without Stephen Hillenburg’s approval. Every 30 seconds, the film stops to give a glimpse to the audience at what SpongeBob‘s first spinoff series, Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years, could look like. If one spinoff series has already been approved and released, imagine the ones involving Bikini Bottom that are being developed as we speak… Nobody at Nickelodeon is telling studio executives to slow down or “STOP!” producing endless pieces of SpongeBob “content,” with their sole intent is to make as much money as possible.

During this sequence, die-hard fans will see no way out of SpongeBob, as it will slowly grow as stale as a soap opera without the ending it deserves. Sponge on the Run should’ve been SpongeBob’s last hurrah, his last grandiose adventure, with Bikini Bottom’s characters finally completing their cyclical arcs. Instead, the film acts as a shameless money-grab with no real throughline but to sell as many derived transmedial products as possible, whether be other TV shows, pieces of merchandise, or, heck, a Paramount+ subscription, without ever once caring for Stephen Hillenburg’s legacy. How do I know? The film’s in memoriam tribute at the end abruptly shifts to a terrible rendition of SpongeBob’s theme by Tainy and J Balvin, spitting on everything Stephen Hillenburg has accomplished for 19 years. Stephen Hillenburg deserved better. Early SpongeBob fans deserved better. It’s time to retire this franchise once and for all, as soon as possible, to preserve its legacy as one of the greatest children’s cartoons of all-time. Nickelodeon would be doing themselves a service before they hit total creative bankruptcy.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run is now available to rent or buy on video-on-demand and streaming on Paramount+

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Disney’s Latest Star “Wish”



Ariana DeBose as Asha in Wish (Disney)


Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Wish” is an all-new musical-comedy welcoming audiences to the magical kingdom of Rosas, where Asha, a sharp-witted idealist, makes a wish so powerful that it is answered by a cosmic force—a little ball of boundless energy called Star. Together, Asha and Star confront a most formidable foe—the ruler of Rosas, King Magnifico—to save her community and prove that when the will of one courageous human connects with the magic of the stars, wondrous things can happen.

Ariana Debose as Asha in Wish (Disney)

Movie Review (no spoilers)

The film is inspired by Disney’s centennial, which ties together a central theme across most of the Disney-related stories — of wishes and dreams coming true. One can view it as the origin story for the wishing star, albeit a funny star. Disney delivers a feel good story filled with humor and the occasional teases and links to other Disney-related works. Ariana DeBose braces the big screen as the hero, Asha who discovers a sinister secret about King Magnifico and his use of the wishes.

Ariana’s performance performance is amazing and I enjoyed listening to the songs she performed. I foresee “This Wish” topping the charts at Spotify soon.

This Wish by Ariana DeBose (Spotify)

Chris Pine plays the part of King Magnifico and delivers a good performance as the villain. We hear him sing a song alongside Ariana, At All Costs.

At All Costs by Chris Pine & Ariana DeBose (Spotify)

The story delivers the usual fun characters that Disney brings along in all stories, amazing graphics of a magical world, and an amazing song library for everyone to listen to. This movie is excellent for young and old, delivering a feel-good movie for all. Wish is yet another treasure in the world of Disney.

I’m really excited for the next 100 years of Disney magic. The movie Wish has the potential to become a sequel, or even provide potential spin-offs exploring the wishes and dreams of others in the magical Disney Universe.

My wish is for more many more years of movie magic from Disney. What is yours?

My rating is a 4 out of 5 for Disney’s Wish. Watch at a cinema near you and join in the Disney centennial celebrations!

Wish Official Trailer (Disney)

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‘The Holdovers’ Review | Paul Giamatti, Alexander Payne Reunite For This Year’s Most Beautiful and Poignant Comedy



Paul Giamatti and Dominic Sessa in 'The Holdovers' (Focus Features)

“They don’t make them like that anymore” is one sentence that we hear a lot when it comes to cinematic brilliance. Most of the times, it is used for titles that might be considered a classic. Sadly, this sentence is being used too often these days and even for those projects, that might not even qualify. However, Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers is undoubtedly one of the movies that deserves to be called an instant classic and I can wholeheartedly say: “They don’t make them like that anymore.”

The holiday season has arrived and audiences want to see movies that makes them feel that holiday spirit. Although it is very rare to see both these qualities in the movies these days, ‘The Holdovers’ has quietly gained popularity among cinephiles this holiday season, emerging as one of the year’s best films among audiences.

The movie is set in a boy’s boarding school in New England in 1970. Paul Hunham is a stern yet brilliant professor who refuses to give passing grades to rich students just because their parents are some of the school’s biggest donors. He is firm and doesn’t let these brats take advantage of him. On the other hand, we have Angus Tully, who is the son of wealthy parents attending the school who tends to ready the students for top universities. It’s Christmas time and everyone is going home, but things take a wild turn for Hunham when he is forced to babysit for children whose parents are unable to let them return home for the holidays. Eventually, Tully ends up being the only child in Hunham’s supervision. As the two begin to spend time with each other, they slowly begin to know much more about each other and understand why they are how they are.

Dominic Sessa, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Paul Giamatti in ‘The Holdovers’ (Focus Features)

There is no doubt that Paul Giamatti’s role as Paul Hunham is one of his most compelling roles. Make no mistake, Giamatti has given several amazing performances, but Hunham turns out to be a role that makes audiences realise how truly amazing he is as an actor. The way he insults people in this movie is hilariously brilliant. It seems Giamatti had a lot of fun while shooting this film and went down the memory lane to prepare for the role. Giamatti is just breath-taking in this role. On the other hand, Dominic Sessa is truly a revelation here and delivers a performance that touches everyone’s heart. In the beginning, you might not like his character but as the story moves forward, you understand why he is like this and Sessa completely nails it.

Da’Vine Joy Randolph delivers a deeply heartbreaking performance as a grieving mother in the film. Randolph gives a detailed performance showing both deep sadness and moments of happiness. It’s a portrayal of grief that feels very genuine and touching.

Even though there are moments that makes the film touching, ‘The Holdovers’ is hardly a serious drama. It’s a very welcoming holiday movie that doesn’t shy away from being funny and absurd. These characters have faced sadness, loss, and pain. However, the movie bravely allows us to laugh alongside them, as their humorous shortcomings transform a typical holiday stay at home into unexpected hospital visits and adventurous trips spanning multiple cities. For many people, it will be nostalgic to see this old-school sweet holiday movie that they must have seen in their youth and takes them to a time where people cared about feelings.

All in all, THE HOLDOVERS is a moving, bittersweet comedy drama that instantly becomes a Holiday classic. A story where you’d think how emotions don’t change even though life has.

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‘Nightingales In The Cocoon’ Review | A Captivating Tale Celebrating Hope and Joyous Shared Moments



Official poster of 'Nightingales in the Cocoon' (Unchained Pictures)

Nightingales in the Cocoon is a vivid and heartwarming portrait of transformation and connection in a bustling city. The short beautifully captures the essence of hope, resilience, and the power of shared experiences. In just five minutes, this story carries a profound message that transcends its simplicity. Dharavi, often characterized by its challenging environment, serves as the backdrop for the story’s beginning. It sets the stage for two children’s life-altering decision to break free from their past. This decision, in itself, is a testament to the human spirit’s resilience and the pursuit of a better life.

The symbolism of leaving behind what is perceived as “trash” is a powerful metaphor for shedding the burdens of the past. The discarded keyboard, seemingly insignificant, becomes a symbol of forgotten dreams and overlooked opportunities. As fate would have it, two young kids in Navi Mumbai stumble upon this abandoned keyboard, which becomes the catalyst for a heartwarming journey. The excitement and curiosity the keyboard sparks in them are relatable and heartening. It reminds us of the pure joy that simple discoveries can bring, especially to young minds eager for new experiences.

A still from ‘Nightingales in the Cocoon’ (MUBI)

The act of acquiring batteries to breathe new life into the neglected instrument is a moment of resourcefulness and determination. It’s a reminder that even in the face of challenges, a little effort can rekindle lost passions and unlock new possibilities. The transformation of the once-silent keys into a source of melodies that fill the air is a beautiful metaphor for the transformative power of art and creativity. The kids’ dance to these newfound tunes is a celebration of life’s simple pleasures and the joy of shared experiences.

This story serves as a reminder that shared moments of happiness can bridge the gaps between individuals and communities. In the bustling city where stark contrasts exist, the shared joy and rekindled dreams bring people together. It’s a testament to the universal language of music and the ability of the human spirit to find connections even in the most unexpected places.

Nightingales in the Cocoon beautifully captures the essence of hope, resilience, and the universal desire for connection and joy. It’s a brilliant and simple narrative that reminds us of the beauty in the everyday moments of life and the power of transformation and human connection.

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