sonic the hedgehog
Updated: Jul 12, 2021
For a while, it was almost a given that a movie based on a videogame would be a dud. In recent years, movies such as Tomb Raider and Detective Pikachu have bucked that trend by being decent to good. It was inevitable something would come along to remind us that most of these adaptations have still been bad. That something is Sonic the Hedgehog.
In a rare case where the studio listened to its prospective audience, its release was delayed after criticism about Sonic’s look dominated the internet when the trailer first dropped. The good news is he is fine now. The bad news is that is the least of the movie’s issues. The character is annoying, the humor is mostly of the fart and poop variety and the villain is portrayed by Jim Carrey in an early candidate for most irritating performance of 2020. Admittedly, I did chuckle a few times at some of co-star James Marsden’s lamer puns. Still, overall, this was a chore to sit through.
Sonic is an energetic alien hedgehog hiding out in a small town on Earth. While bored, he accidentally attracts the attention of a weirdo government scientist, causing him to go on the run with the help of the local sheriff. Much forced wackiness ensues.
The story is fairly simple odd couple/road trip stuff used to hang the derivative gags on. The problems come from how obvious those are and how off-putting the characters are. Sonic is loud and very child-like, which makes sense since he has been living alone on a strange planet for the last decade and had to raise himself by watching the humans around him. He is similar to a lot of family movie heroes. I like Ben Schwartz (who voices him), however the character is unlikable. He is like a child sitting behind you in a car, kicking your seat and asking inane questions. That is not a description you want for the hero of an action/comedy. He is what you would get if you put a bunch of family adventure protagonists in a blender, then spilled out all of their good attributes. I felt trapped having to spend 90 minutes with him (plus a mid-credit scene).
Amazingly, that is just the second worst aspect of Sonic the Hedgehog. The worst is without a doubt Jim Carrey’s unrelentingly in-your-face antagonist, Dr. Robotnik. Carrey chews over every single word, not content to say a line when he can overact each syllable. The fact that he is doing this with unfunny dialogue makes it even worse. It is like he is trying to make a bad movie entertaining through sheer force of will and failing spectacularly. If he had played it straight, it would have merely been boring. Done this way, his aggressiveness is actively obnoxious. I wanted to ignore him, yet it is hard to ignore someone when they are shouting in your ear. I admire his desire to do everything he could with the role, though this project was probably helpless.
I used to play the Sonic games all the time as a kid. Never once did I wonder about his origins or want to learn more about the characters. After seeing this, I want to know less. The only thing I enjoyed was James Marsden (as Sonic’s human travel companion) working to be charming in a charmless production. It is lazily conceived and unoriginal in every fiber of its being. It transparently exists exclusively to take money from nostalgic adults or parents unlucky enough to have kids who think it looks amusing. Kids may like the toilet humor, but adults? They would be better off staying home and playing videogames.
1 out of 5
Ben Schwartz as voice of Sonic the Hedgehog
James Marsden as Tom Wachowski
Jim Carrey as Dr. Ivo Robotnik
Tika Sumpter as Maddie Wachowski
Adam Pally as Billy Robb
Lee Majdoub as Agent Stone
Directed by Jeff Fowler
Written by Patrick Casey and Josh Miller