There's a lot of talk about the secret formula behind delicious Krabby Patties in "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run," but the real secret formula lies in the creative trust that has managed to create not one, not two, but now three thoroughly entertaining feature-length adaptations of the long-running TV show.
In an era when so many 25-page children's books or eight-minute animated shorts have been bloated beyond proportion on their way to becoming 90-minute movies, Team SpongeBob deserves credit for unlocking the alchemy behind building up and building out a storyline and a set of characters without losing sight of what made the original beloved in the first place.
This time around, writer-director Tim Hill steps in, and he's managed to take the goofy denizens of Bikini Bottom on a road trip that is visually dazzling and almost consistently hilarious, mixing verbal and physical humor, as well as some perfectly chosen cameos, both in-person and among the voice cast. (Celebrity is usually the last refuge of a brainless kid movie, but "Sponge on the Run" offers some examples on how to include them in a clever way.)
It's just another day under the sea, with the always-upbeat SpongeBob (voiced by Tom Kenny) hanging out with best pal Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke) and putting in a full day's work at the Krusty Krab, much to the consternation of his irritated neighbor and co-worker Squidward (Rodger Bumpass). The scheming Plankton (Mr. Lawrence) plots once again to steal the Krabby Patty formula from the Krusty Krab's owner Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown), but Plankton's computer-wife Karen (Jill Talley) points out that the real way to undermine the Krusty Krab is to get SpongeBob out of the way.
Plankton nefariously steals SpongeBob's beloved snail pet Gary and gives it to the vain Poseidon (Matt Berry, "What We Do in the Shadows"), who has eradicated the local snail population by using their slime as part of his skin-care regimen. The distraught SpongeBob and faithful wingman Patrick make their way to the Lost City of Atlantic City to retrieve Gary, getting help along the way from a wise and helpful tumbleweed named Sage (Keanu Reeves, of course).
Hill provides enough plot and stakes to get viewers through 91 minutes of TV-sized silliness, but he also wisely never lets either get in the way of the laughs, which are plentiful here. From the outrageous physical permutations of the characters (SpongeBob cleans the kitchen by absorbing mop water and then squirting it out his various pores) to more subtle bits ("Sponge on the Run" has one of the best diegetic-music gags since the orchestra bus in "High Anxiety"), the sponge-and-his-snail narrative never gets in the way of the bit.
If there's one section that drags, it's when all of SpongeBob's Bikini Bottom pals — including squirrel Sandy Cheeks (Carolyn Lawrence) — give flashback-testimonials to how kind and selfless SpongeBob is. The whole segment feels like a backdoor pilot for the upcoming Paramount+ series "Kamp Koral: SpongeBob's Under Years," which follows the adventures of these characters as children.
Director of photography Peter Lyons Collister and the team of animators very effectively expand the TV show's universe by keeping the bright flatness of Bikini Bottom and then contrasting it with the richer palette and more garish lighting of Poseidon's domain. And Berry's plummy Poseidon makes for a wonderful addition to the accomplished TV cast, as does Reeves and, in some lovely fleeting appearances, Tiffany Haddish (as an animated Master of Ceremonies), Snoop Dogg, and Danny Trejo. (I laughed every time they played the theme song for Trejo's character: "El Diablo/El Diablo/El Diablo … very bad man.")
Tim Hill has had a fascinating career, mostly in kids/family films, from the grating "Hop" and "Alvin and the Chipmunks" to the underrated and delightful "Max Keeble's Big Move" and "Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever." But as a veteran of SpongeBob's TV, movie, and even video-game incarnations, he's found the perfect balance in "Sponge Out of Water," which is dedicated to SpongeBob creator Stephen Hillenburg, who passed away in 2018. Whatever their age or familiarity level with these characters, this is that rare family film that could actually entertain an entire family.
Parents looking to watch something with their children — or just to distract their children for 91 minutes — will do better with this film than, say, the wretched 2021 "Tom & Jerry." Don't have kids? It's a great double-feature with "Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar." Either way, this is a testament to why SpongeBob SquarePants and his pals have been so popular for more than two decades.
"The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run" premieres on Paramount+ and PVOD March 4.
We are three months from the start of hurricane season -- though the official start date may come earlier this year because hurricanes have occurred outside the traditional season in recent years.
And, yes, those famous Disney characters from "Frozen" could really serve as inspiration for hurricane names this year.
Three of them -- Ana, Elsa, Olaf -- are on the list of official names in the Atlantic and east Pacific basins, in what could be another active hurricane season.
Though it's too early to know definitively, forecasters say a few key elements could determine whether we see another active season similar to last year.
"If El Nino does not occur, it would tend to load the dice towards a more active Atlantic hurricane season," said Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University. "But sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Main Development Region are also critical. If those sea surface temperatures are much warmer than normal, it could potentially drive a very active Atlantic hurricane season."© CNN Weather
While it may seem far away, now is the best time to prepare before the storms form, particularly since the number of storms seems to be heading in the wrong direction.The number of storms are increasing
The official Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30, while the eastern Pacific hurricane season runs from May 15 through November 30.
However, Mother Nature doesn't always follow the calendar. In the last six years there has been a named tropical storm in the Atlantic before the June 1 start date.
"In order to provide more consistent information on the potential for late May and early June systems, (the) National Hurricane Center (NHC) will now begin the routine issuance of the Atlantic Tropical Weather Outlooks (TWOs) on May 15, which is when routine TWOs also begin for the eastern Pacific basin," said Dennis Feltgen, a public affairs officer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.© CNN Weather Above average sea surface temperatures across the Atlantic Basin are seen in orange. Red areas indicate temperatures that are well above average for late February. White areas indicate near-average temperatures.
However, the official hurricane season start dates may be permanently changing. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) will hold its 43rd Hurricane Committee meeting this spring. The WMO will propose changing the calendar so the dates of both the Atlantic and eastern Pacific hurricane seasons line up.
But it's not just in May where we are seeing an increase in storm activity. The entire season is witnessing more storms.
"The latest set of 30-year averages of Atlantic Basin tropical cyclone counts are all noticeably higher than the previous set," said Brian McNoldy, a senior research associate at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. "The number of named storms increased by 19%, the number of hurricanes increased by 13%, and the number of major hurricanes (Category 3+) increased by 19%."
The time period of 30 years is chosen so that forecasters can monitor changes in the season over time. Until last year, meteorologists used the time span between 1981 and 2010. This year they will begin monitoring changes between 1991 and 2020. NOAA updates these periods every decade to keep pace with the changing climate.
"Additionally, the average Accumulated Cyclone Energy, or ACE, increased by 16%," McNoldy said. "ACE is a commonly-used metric which is independent of the number of storms, but rather accounts for the combined effects of the intensity and longevity of storms. In short, it raises the bar for what's considered average."
So why are we seeing more frequent and intense storms?
"We do know that ocean temperatures are warming, which creates a larger and richer habitable zone for tropical cyclones," McNoldy said. "All other things being equal, that alone would gradually increase the storm counts. Unfortunately, all other things aren't equal ... improving technology also gradually allows hurricane experts to identify important but subtle fluctuations in a storm's intensity."Could we see another record season?
The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was a record-breaking one. There were 30 named storms, the most ever in a single year. And 12 of them made landfall in the US, also a record. For the second time in recorded history, the National Hurricane Center , prompting the use of the Greek alphabet to name storms for the remainder of the season.
Having 30 named storms in back-to-back years would be unprecedented. In fact, the National Hurricane Center has only used every name on the pre-determined list of names for tropical systems twice in recorded history -- in 2005 and 2020.
Colorado State University will release its first seasonal hurricane forecast on April 8, and NOAA will release its forecast in mid-May.
There are certain factors to look for that give researchers and forecasters an idea of how the season might fare.
El Niño is one of the bigger factors because of its influence on tropical system development. NOAA predicts there is a 10% chance of El Niño occurring, which is not necessarily a good thing.
"If El Niño does not occur, it would tend to load the dice towards a more active Atlantic hurricane season," Klotzbach said. "But ... a lot can change."
"Sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Main Development Region are also critical," Klotzbach said. "If those sea surface temperatures are much warmer than normal, it could potentially drive a very active Atlantic hurricane season."
Klotzbach says that the Atlantic looks pretty favorable in terms of warm sea surface temperatures this early in the year.
You've heard it before -- it only takes one hurricane to make it an active season for you personally. However, the more landfall systems there are in a single season, the more likely any one person will be affected. Last year was a perfect example of that since more than half of the 50 states were affected by at least one of the 12 landfall storms.
However, the total number of storms in a season does not always tell the whole story.
Klotzbach points out that 1981 was a moderately active season -- 12 total storms -- but only two of the weaker systems affected the US. By contrast, 1983 was one of the most inactive storm seasons on record, but Hurricane Alicia caused more than $1 billion of damage in Houston, Texas.
That means it's still a good idea to refresh your preparedness kit and rehearse your evacuation plan before the start of the hurricane season.
If an active hurricane season materializes, it's possible that the "Frozen" trifecta could make landfall in the US. It's possible for Olaf -- which is on the eastern Pacific hurricane list -- to make landfall in a southwestern US state, and Ana and Elsa to make landfall along the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico.
Given their alphabetical order, however, it is highly unlikely that all three names will exist as hurricanes at the same time.
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Rosamund Pike is currently enjoying a global audience with the Netflix hit “I Care a Lot,” in which she stars as a shady legal guardian who drains the bank accounts of her elderly wards. Recent press has afforded her the opportunity to look back at her career as an Oscar nominee for “Gone Girl,” and more, including a role in the 2011 action comedy “Johnny English Reborn.” Speaking virtually on “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” Pike took the chance to address an issue she’s hinted at before, which is her body being altered and photoshopped for the poster of that movie.
“For the poster for Johnny English [Reborn], my breasts were augmented,” she said. “In the poster for the character shot, I have got a very impressive chest, which I don’t have.”
Pike also said that for a more recent film, last year’s “Radioactive” in which she starred as Marie Curie, the color of her eyes was changed to her bewilderment.
“For ‘Radioactive,’ strangely, they made my eyes brown. I still don’t quite know why. Sort of browny-hazel color.”
She added, in the clip you can watch below, that she has also wondered how many other times her body had been photoshopped without her realizing.
“Those are the obvious times, right? When you do notice, ‘Oh, I’ve got brown eyes,’ or, ‘I’ve got massive breasts.’ But there’s probably countless times where our image is doctored and we don’t notice it,” she said. “Because I think we’re all losing our grip on what we really look like.”
Pike isn’t the only actress to call out being Photoshopped in publicity materials. Zendaya, another actress with a current Netflix film thanks to “Malcolm & Marie,” called out body modification done to her in Modeliste Magazine back in 2015, writing on Instagram, “Had a new shoot come out today and was shocked when I found my 19 year old hips and torso quite manipulated. These are the things that make women self conscious, that create the unrealistic ideals of beauty that we have.”
“I Care a Lot,” starring Pike and directed by J Blakeson, is now on Netflix. Read IndieWire’s review here.