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THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE: SPONGE ON THE RUN: 3 ½ STARS

SpongeBob SquarePants (voiced by Tom Kenny) is an unlikely pop culture hero. An energetic and upbeat sea sponge, he should be a one-joke wonder, but for more than two decades the character, who looks like a bright yellow kitchen sponge with wide eyes and little brown shorts, has soaked up the love of children and adults.

His new CGI adventure, “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on The Run,” which is playing in theaters now, sees the animated invertebrate living in the underwater city of Bikini Bottom where he cooks at Krusty Krab, the most succeeded from the sea. .

Life is good for SpongeBob and his friends like silly but funny starfish Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke) and restaurateur Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown) until the beloved pet of SpongeBob Gary the Snail (also voiced by Kenny) is kidnapped by the evil and vain ruler of The Lost City of Atlantic City, King Poseidon. With the help of Patrick and a wise tumbleweed played by Keanu Reeves, Spongebob embarks on a perilous rescue mission.

“The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on The Run” brings with it the usual anarchy, inside jokes and unexpected celebrity cameos, but at its osmotic little heart is SpongeBob, a character who belongs to the same genre of artists as Soupy Sales, Stan Laurel and Peewee Herman.

He, like his predecessors, is smooth and unpredictable with a surreal streak that transcends the ridiculous and borders on high art. I think that’s why SpongeBob survived and thrived while other characters from his vintage faded away. It’s silly enough for kids but surreal enough for parents and beneath it all lies an undercurrent of decency that transcends age.

In his TV show and movies, including this new one, the rules of physics and storytelling may not apply, which is generally fun, but the things that make Spongebob human (you see what I mean) are still on display. He is loyal, caring, values ​​his friends and is always optimistic. These qualities are built into “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on The Run” and that, along with the absurd situations, makes it enjoyable for fans young and old.

UNLOADED: 2 STARS

Imbalance

“Unhinged” is the kind of b-movie that would normally go straight to DVD or stream, but in our upside-down pandemic world, where the rules are constantly being rewritten, new psychothriller Russell Crowe is only playing in theaters this weekend.

Hairstylist Rachel (Caren Pistorius) is going through a tough time. The young mum is in the midst of a brutal divorce and her brother and his girlfriend are unwanted guests at her home.

Today, she’s stuck in traffic and if things don’t change, she’ll be late for both a meeting with a client and dropping off her son (Gabriel Bateman) at school. Pulling her Volvo behind an idling truck belonging to Tom Cooper (Crowe), she honks and unleashes an epic fit of road rage. “I need you to learn what a bad day is,” he said, “and I need you to learn how to say sorry.”

Subtlety, your name is not “Unhinged”. From Crowe’s snarling, sweaty psychopath and bloody “courtesy tap” to emasculation and car crashes, the film offers a buffet of b-movie fun. Crowe spits lines like “I will make my contribution today with violence and retaliation” and amplifies the anger, but like the movie itself, it’s a strong note.

Director Derrick Borte begins the film with the context, a long montage of the evils of today’s world, suggesting that things are falling apart because we lack civility, but then forgoes any kind of social commentary in a story that relies on the shock and awe to fill the screen. with violent images.

At one point, Cooper talks about being an “invisible” man, and after a dinner scene, it’s clear he doesn’t like divorce lawyers, but that’s it for character development. He is simply a dangerous man who has been cut off from the bonds of good society.

In the relatively small subgenre of Crazed Driver films – “Duel” and “The Hitcher” come to mind – “Unhinged” stands out by keeping the pedal to the metal without bringing anything new in terms of thrills. As a study of an emasculated man seeking revenge, it’s reminiscent of Michael Douglas’ 1993 black comedy “Falling Down,” except that “Unhinged” is all darkness and no comedy.

SPISTER: 3 ½ STARS

“Spinster” is billed as “the anti-rom-com of the summer” and if there was ever a genre that needed a kick in the pants, it’s romantic comedy. Director Andrea Dorfman does more than that, curbing the tired old formula between boy and girl in a story that celebrates empowerment and independence from the slow motion that passes through airports.

“Brooklyn Nine Nine”‘s Chelsea Peretti stars as Gaby, a wedding caterer whose boyfriend dumps her on her thirty-ninth birthday. Her friends encourage her to get back into the dating world, but she isn’t so sure. To avoid ending up like her great aunt Elise, dead in a bathtub, unknown for a week, she tries speed dating and online sites but, she says, “I definitely prefer knitting”.

In the absence of a romantic life, she spends her time hanging out with her niece Adele (Nadia Tonen), watching her brother Alex (David Rossetti) perform terrible comedy, and tending to her “dog dog.” ‘Occasion’ recently adopted. As her fortieth birthday approaches and the dream of owning her own restaurant nears reality, she finds happiness in self-love and a speech from the opening scene turns out to be unprophetic. (SPOILER ALERT)

“Everyone, deep down, wants someone to love,” the bride-to-be (Amy Groening) tells Gaby early on. “That’s why Shakespeare ended all his comedies with a wedding!”

“Spinster” has a lot of charms. It has a wise sense of humor thanks to writer Jennifer Deyell, a catchy score from composer Daniel Ledwell, and a steady hand from director Dorfman. Best of all, it has Peretti whose practiced deadpan delivery brings an edge to the story. She has a path with a line, but she also leads us on Gaby’s path of self-discovery. As she helps Adele regain confidence in her young life, Gaby thrives in hers. His journey is warm, believable and full of humour.

“Spinster” is a well-crafted, if a bit modest, story about finding and satisfying your own life, no matter what others say. It’s about a certain type of love, but colors outside the rom com lines to create something refreshing.

NEVER TOO LATE: 3 STARS

Never too late

“Never Too Late”, the story of four friends, separated by distance, experience and fifty years with James Cromwell, is sweet and sentimental but has a serious message at its heart. The four Vietnamese veterans are chasing their dreams on VOD this week.

After a daring escape from a Vietnamese POW camp, Jeremiah Caine (Dennis Waterman), Jack Bronson (Cromwell), Angus Wilson (Jack Thompson) and Bruce Wendell (Shane Jacobson) have been called The Chain Breakers. Half a century later, they are reunited at the Hogan Hills Veterans Nursing Home when Bronson checks in under the guise of recovering from a massive stroke. He worked his way into the facility not to hang out with his old pals but to reconnect with the love of his life, former combat nurse Norma (Jacki Weaver).

“Sometimes it takes a lifetime to find a happy ending,” she says. But soon after the encounter, she is transferred to another hospital for a three-month drug trial for Alzheimer’s disease, leaving Bronson and Company behind.

Thrown once again into another sort of prison, Bronson rallies the troops for one last daring operation. “We are the Chainbreakers,” he says. “We don’t sit around feeling sorry for ourselves, we do the work. I will complete this mission. They aren’t as young as they used to be, but Bronson hatches a plan, a race to freedom and Norma.

It’s “The Great Escape”, senior style.

“Never Too Late’s” sounds like a lighthearted, old-school comedy, but at its heart, right next to the pacemaker, is a commentary on how old people — and in this case, veterans — are treated in long-term care. Hogan Hills is essentially a prison with barbed wire, attendants who act like guards, and while there are no bars, there are more locked doors than Riker’s Island. It is a current social problem and it is given fair treatment here.

The driving force behind “Never Too Late” is the actors, however. Australians Waterman, Thompson and Jacobson deliver broad comedic performances tempered by enough sentimentality to make their hijinks likable. Cromwell and Weaver, however, bring humanity. Their relationship, and their luck after fifty years, is the soul of the film. A subplot involving an evil doctor (Renee Lim) out for revenge feels stuck and briefly disrupts the flow of the film.

The predictability of “Never Too Late” – let’s face it, we all know where it takes us – is dulled by the actors and the warmth of the characters who stand a chance for more adventure and happiness.

BLACK WATER: ABYSS: 2 ½ STARS

Black Waters: Abyss

The proliferation of creature features featuring hybrid animals like the Piranhaconda, Sharktopus, and Dinocroc overshadowed the more traditional nature-turned-savage horror movie. “Black Water: Abyss,” a new angry, apex predator movie now on VOD, brings back the old school when animals attack the genre and throws in some caving for good measure.

The action begins when a group of friends, Eric (Luke Mitchell), Jen (Jessica McNamee), Viktor (Benjamin Hoetjes) and Yolanda (Amali Golden), put aside all fear of claustrophobia to descend into a system of partially submerged caves in a remote northern region. Australia. They were led there by Cash (Anthony J. Sharpe), who discovered the caves during a search party for a Japanese couple who went missing in the area. What they don’t know is that the couple didn’t just disappear…they were eaten. When a tropical storm hits, flooding the caves, they are trapped with a herd of very hungry and very aggressive crocodiles

Cue the frantic growl.

Director Andrew Traucki has made a specialty of this genre, making giant shark movies like “The Reef” and “The Jungle” about an Indonesian “forest demon.” It’s good with creepy jumps, primal stuff like fear of the dark and claustrophobia and mixing CGI and actual crocodile footage, but it’s let down here by a script that reduces its characters to sushi for hungry crocodiles. and nothing more. It’s hard to create character arcs when the most interesting thing someone says is, “We’re never going to get out of here, are we?”

“Black Water: Abyss” is a sequel to 2007’s “Abyss,” and while it has occasional jerks and breathless final minutes, its lack of interesting characters won’t crunch your world.