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Review: Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

Directed by: Jeff Fowler

Premise: An adaptation of the video game. An alien hedgehog (Ben Schwartz) who can move at high speed teams with a small town police officer (James Marsden) to foil an evil genius (Jim Carrey) who wants to capture and dissect the rodent.

What Works: Sonic the Hedgehog is intended as light matinee entertainment for families and the movie is perfectly acceptable as that. It’s funny enough and sufficiently exciting in a way that is appropriate for the family audience. The Sonic the Hedgehog game didn’t really suggest a story but the filmmakers have found a way to make something out of it. The character is impressively rendered and despite Sonic’s inherently cartoonish look the hedgehog blends into the live action environment. Actors James Marsden and Tika Sumpter deserve some credit; they’re cast in a ridiculous premise but they make it credible and Marsden is often alone with the computer generated character and he interacts with it convincingly. The standout performance of the movie is Jim Carrey as the villainous Dr. Ivo Robotnik. Carrey got his start with the eccentric characters of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Mask and his performance in Sonic the Hedgehog recalls that early work. Carrey’s approach suits the movie’s video game source and he’s an effective antagonist to the computer generated character.

What Doesn’t: The story of Sonic the Hedgehog is forced. The bulk of the movie is a road trip in which Sonic and the police officer drive to San Francisco to retrieve the hedgehog’s bag of magical rings. But Sonic can run a whole lot faster than his human companion can drive and there is no reason why Sonic needs Marsden’s character along with him. The human parts of the film drag. The relationship between the police officer and his wife is flat. There’s no tension in their marriage and she goes along with whatever he wants to do. In an effort to concoct some conflict, Sonic the Hedgehog recycles a trite lesson about the importance of home. That’s a stock theme familiar to family films but here the concept is contorted into a weird message. Marsden’s character wants out of the small town life and he has applied to a new job in the big city. It would be one thing if the officer realized that he didn’t actually want that but what he really learns is that it’s better to give up on your dreams and stay put in the familiar instead of challenging yourself to do something more with your life.

Bottom Line: Sonic the Hedgehog is an acceptable family film. The movie will entertain its intended audience of children and families but it’s not especially memorable.

Episode: #791 (March 1, 2020)