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Case Number 22371: Small Claims Court

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Spongebob's Runaway Roadtrip

Nickelodeon // 2011 // 66 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Josh Rode (Retired) // September 25th, 2011

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All Rise...

The last time Judge Josh Rode went on a road trip, he ended up in Toledo. 'Nuff said.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Spongebob Squarepants: Season 5, Volume 1 (published December 12th, 2007), SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete First Season (published November 10th, 2003), Spongebob Squarepants: Season 5, Volume 2 (published November 27th, 2008), Spongebob Squarepants: The Complete Third Season (published February 8th, 2006), SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete Seventh Season (published December 11th, 2011), SpongeBob Squarepants: 10 Happiest Moments (published September 19th, 2010), Spongebob Squarepants: Fear Of A Krabby Patty (published August 31st, 2005), Spongebob Squarepants: Friend Or Foe? (published August 29th, 2007), Spongebob Squarepants: Home Sweet Pineapple (published January 19th, 2005), SpongeBob SquarePants: Legends of Bikini Bottom (published December 12th, 2010), Spongebob Squarepants: Nautical Nonsense / Sponge Buddies (published March 19th, 2002), Spongebob Squarepants: Sponge For Hire (published February 9th, 2005), Spongebob Squarepants: Spongebob Vs. The Big One (published March 16th, 2009), Spongebob Squarepants: Spongebob's Pest Of The West (published April 25th, 2008), Spongebob Squarepants: Spongicus (published April 9th, 2009), Spongebob Squarepants: The Great Patty Caper (published March 13th, 2011), SpongeBob SquarePants: The Seaside Capers (published March 13th, 2004), Spongebob Squarepants: To Love A Patty (published February 6th, 2008), Spongebob Squarepants: To Squarepants Or Not To Squarepants (published July 27th, 2009), SpongeBob Squarepants: Triton's Revenge (published September 11th, 2010), Spongebob Squarepants: Truth Or Square (published November 20th, 2009), Spongebob Squarepants: Where's Gary? (published December 14th, 2005), and Spongebob Squarepants: Who Bob What Pants? (published November 13th, 2008) are also available.

The Charge

Are you ready kids?

The Case

It's been over a decade since an irrepressible yellow sea sponge captured the hearts of children and polarized the adult population. Many parents stand adamant that "Spongebob Squarepants will never be shown in our house." And that's too bad, because it's as inoffensive a show as you will find, post-toddler years. It may not be the most educational children's series around, but the best episodes are hilarious no matter what your age.

Alas, none of the episodes on Spongebob's Runaway Roadtrip fit that category.

All five of these stories start with the same joke: one of the Bikini Bottom gang wants to show everyone else a home video of his or her vacation, and the intended audience tries to skedaddle as quickly as possible. It's not a bad idea for a theme, although the joke wears thin quickly. There are also two unrelated "bonus episodes," which represent the entirety of the extras on the disc.

Main Episodes
• "A Squarepants Family Vacation"—Mr. and Mrs. Squarepants parents are driving Spongebob and Patrick to the Great Barrier Reef when Patrick-induced car trouble leads to a series of misadventures.

• "Patrick's Staycation"—Patrick needs a break from his daily grind of sleeping and eating, but he can't afford to go anywhere, so Spongebob does his best to make Patrick's home into a posh resort.

• "Walking the Plankton"—Mr. Krabs and Spongebob take a leisure cruise. Just to be safe, they bring the Krabby Patty formula along, so Plankton schedules an impromptu second honeymoon in order to steal it.

• "Mooncation"—Sandy's trip to the moon takes a few unexpected turns when Spongebob and his "Happy Vacation" sheet cake somehow end up on the rocket ship.

• "Mr. Krabs Takes a Vacation"—Mr. Krabs takes Pearl (and, for no adequately explained reason, Spongebob) on a family vacation, but only he is interested in their final destination.

Bonus Episodes

• "Hide and Then What Happens?"—Spongebob teaches Patrick how to play Hide and Seek, even though it's a game they've played many times before.

• "Shellback Shenanigans"—It's "take your pet to work day," so Plankton disguises himself as Spongebob's snail in order to witness the making of Krabby Patties firsthand.

No show can go for as many episodes as Spongebob Squarepants without losing some steam. Eventually the writers run out of ideas, move onto other projects, and new writers are hired. Over time, many different writers and directors will get their fingerprints on the product, and inevitably it will change. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Many shows—most notably The Simpsons—have gone through wholesale staff changeovers over time and managed to remain fresh. Change is the antithesis of stagnation, and there is nothing worse than a stale show.

Unfortunately, the denizens of Bikini Bottom have not aged as well as their primetime cousin. The most recent Spongebob Squarepants seasons lack the charm and naiveté that made the show so eminently watchable. It is as if the new writers are afraid to take chances. Instead of coming up with new ideas, they use the characters' familiar personalities to rehash jokes. For instance, when Spongebob makes a brief, unnecessary visit to Mrs. Puff's driving school, naturally her car will somehow be destroyed. The scene serves no narrative purpose; it's just there to generate a built-in laugh: "Oh look! It's Mrs. Puff's school! And her car got destroyed! Again! Hahahaha!"

The characters' personalities have changed over time as well. In "A Squarepants Family Vacation," Spongebob's parents tell Spongebob and Patrick to play in a nearby park while waiting for the car to get fixed. One look at the oil-drenched equipment gives them pause, however, and while they gingerly make a half-hearted attempt to use the swings and the slide, they are just making the best of a bad situation. Ten years ago, they would have seen the playground, yelled, "Oh boy!" and charged in, heedless of the mess. Patrick wouldn't have even noticed when the slide got stuck to him, say nothing of making a sarcastic statement about it.

Technically, this collection looks and sounds pretty much like it does on television. It's presented in its original full frame glory, with crisp lines and bright colors. The Dolby 2.0 stereo sound doesn't add much to the proceedings, but that doesn't matter; everyone's voices are loud and clear, and that's all the show needs.

Even though the writing is nowhere close to where it once was, the kids still like the characters and will suck up every moment. It's just not as fun for adults anymore.

The Verdict

If aging poorly were against the law, everyone but Susan Sarandon would be in prison. Still, Spongebob's Runaway Roadtrip feels like a half-hearted effort. Guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 67

Perp Profile

Studio: Nickelodeon
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 66 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• All Ages
• Animation
• Comedy
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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