Sonic the Hedgehog Review: Fast and Funny
I don't think anyone could have predicted that any studio would be working on a Sonic the Hedgehog movie before it was announced, considering the popularity of the character peaked nearly 30 years ago.
Oof, give me a second. I'm feeling a little old...
Anyway, Sonic's first motion picture foray isn't as bad as any reasonable person might expect out of an action buddy comedy starring a CGI hedgehog. That's in large part due to Jim Carrey's over-the-top performance as Sonic's traditional nemesis, Doctor Ivo Robotnik, and the charm of the Blue Blur himself.
If you're a fan of the games and have read the comics (maybe dug into some of the lore), you're going to find yourself starting fresh with this take on the Sonic universe.
After being forced to flee his planet at a young age using the movie-exclusive teleportation function of a ring, Sonic ends up spending years alone hiding and observing the residents of Green Hills, Montana.
The beginning of the movie shows us how lonely Sonic has become. Playing pranks on the town's residents, hanging out in his furnished cave, playing sports with himself on all positions... but none of it fills that hole in his heart where friendship and family should be.
Eventually, that loneliness brings disaster, and the government calls in Ivo Robotnik to sniff and snuff out the cause. Which is, of course, Sonic the Hedgehog.
There are three reasons to see this movie.
The first is expected: Jim Carrey's signature comedy style suits the diabolical Robotnik like a glove. The character's ego and eccentricity are on full display with Carrey in Ivo's 'stache. He absolutely steals the spotlight in every scene he's in, and for good reason.
The second couldn't have been possible if the internet didn't lose its mind over the original movie design for the character, which is just how cute Sonic is throughout most of his time on screen.
There is rarely a shot of Sonic seen where he isn't outright adorable. You've got baby Sonic, Sonic in a shirt and cowboy hat, puff-ball Sonic, happy Sonic, sad Sonic, hyper So— you see where I'm going with this. There's a lot of Sonic, and he's cute enough to take home and keep on a shelf.
The third is the most surprising aspect of the film, though. It's that it "gets it". Tyson Hesse, of Sonic Mania development fame, played a part in taking Sonic the Hedgehog from atrocity to above-average kids action flick.
Hesse's influence on the movie shows how aware it is of what fans and kids alike would like to see out of a live-action movie featuring the hedgehog. Sonic's an adrenaline junkie, and that fact shines through at every opportunity. The nods to internet culture, such as referring to raccoons as "trash pandas" don't detract from the overall tone of the film, which stays in its lane throughout. Even a drawing of Sanic slipped through the cracks...
Sonic's tale of loneliness is relatable, and his adventure with Tom to find his rings is one that kids and adults alike can enjoy. Slow-paced scenes are brief, with the movie primarily focusing on Sonic experiencing the world around him alongside a friend for the first time. Robotnik's ruthless chasing of the duo using his ultra-high-tech robots is the icing on the cake.
Somehow all the facets of Sonic the Hedgehog just work.
Carrey's fantastic performance as Robotnik is one of his most interesting to watch roles, so much so I'm already clamoring for a sequel to see how he will perform as an even more extreme Eggman. I'd probably pay to see a whole movie of just Jim Carrey as Eggman if I'm being honest.
Ben Schwartz is another perfect casting decision for the fastest thing alive. I've thought of Jaleel White's renditions of Sonic in the old cartoons as the character's definitive English voice, but Ben Schwartz does such a perfect job of capturing the energy of the character that my opinion has shifted completely.
The movie's plot is squarely focused on what Sonic and Robotnik are going to do next, and there's nothing wrong with that at all. There's no extra romance sub-plot, there are no scenes that are out of place. Through and through, this is a kids popcorn flick.
As with most kids popcorn flicks, Sonic the Hedgehog is no work of art and doesn't house much most viewers would call memorable. In fact, aside from a few key scenes featuring Sonic and most of Jim Carrey's performance, most adults will probably not be able to remember most of the movie the next day.
However, I have little doubt Sonic the Hedgehog will tickle fans, enthrall kids of all ages, and give even parents who aren't familiar with the character a laugh or two. There's so much room for a sequel, I'm already eagerly hoping an announcement is on the horizon for our Blue Blur and his evil scientist foe.