Sonic the Hedgehog stars James Marsden, Jim Carrey, and the vocal talents of Ben Schwartz and was directed by Jeff Fowler. Loosely based on the videogame series of the same name, it tells the story of Sonic, a speedy blue hedgehog voiced by Ben Schwartz, who teams up with a small town sheriff, played by James Marsden, in order to escape the clutches of Jim Carrey’s evil Dr. Robotnik. Sonic the Hedgehog‘s a movie that shouldn’t work at all. For one, it’s a strange buddy cop road comedy featuring an entirely CGI character whose original design sparked enough outrage and nightmares that the film had to be delayed for a visual overhaul.
Second, it’s a videogame movie; a genre that isn’t exactly known for successful films. And not only is it a videogame movie, but it’s an adaptation of a game and a character that really hasn’t been in the public eye for two decades. So, this movie was certainly facing an uphill climb. Maybe even a vertical loop de loop climb. But just like his 16-bit counterpart, this Sonic managed to make the climb and come out on the other side with a handful of gold rings. So, to give you a little bit of insight into my history with Sonic I don’t really have much of one.
I’ve never owned a Sega console. I was always more of a Nintendo and PlayStation kid. But my cousin had a Sega Genesis and he had the original Sonic game. He lived in another state, but anytime we’d go visit them, I always managed to convince him to play Sonic for a little bit. We would only play a few levels, so I never knew the game’s storyline and it was so sporadic across the years that only the gameplay mechanics really stuck with me. And apparently the music. I have to say, that was such an unexpected hit of nostalgia in this movie. I didn’t even know I knew the music.
So why am I telling you all this? Well, I wanted to give you a sense of where I was, headed into the movie. Very minor childhood exposure, no real nostalgia for the character, and zero expectations for the story. I, like many others, was a bit unsettled by Sonic’s design in the first trailer. Those teeth phew. But then the redesign came and even though I wasn’t super interested in the story, I knew I wanted to see this, if only to support the filmmakers who listened to the criticism and then did something about it. And I’ve got to say, the redesign looks great in practice.
Sonic looks like Sonic. His proportions are correct, he doesn’t have creepy human teeth, and he’s got his gloves. Something I had been a little concerned about based on the trailer was how he would look interacting with the real environment and people, but I was impressed with that as well. He’s clearly a cartoon character, but he doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb in any of his scenes. Like I said, beyond the redesign, there wasn’t too much about the trailer that really drew me in.
In fact, there were a lot of things I was hesitant about; probably none more so than Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik. I think I’m in the minority on this one, but I’ve never been a big fan of his crazy, over-the-top humor from the 90s. That’s clearly the persona he was channeling in the trailer and it just wasn’t doing it for me. But, I was so pleasantly surprised by his character in the movie. He wasn’t my favorite or anything, but he was definitely more than bearable. The trailer was pretty misleading with him, playing up those Jim Carrey-y moments as straight humor, whereas in the context of the movie, he comes across as more arrogant than goofy.
People will still find him very funny, but most of his scenes aren’t exactly played for laughs like the trailer would imply. The other characters were surprisingly decent as well. I thought that Sonic would potentially run the risk of being annoying and he gets close a few times, but he’s actually not bad. They imbue his character with a predictable, but surprisingly heartfelt arc that really makes you get on board with him. And then you’ve got James Marsden as Tom who provides a really entertaining counterbalance to Sonic.
The trailer portrayed him as sort of a bumbling cop character and he does have elements of that at times, but he’s also got great reactions to everything that goes on and, as weird as it sounds, really good chemistry with Sonic. The story itself isn’t anything too special, but it’s definitely serviceable (despite its oddly blatant Olive Garden and Zillow product placement).
It’s quite predictable and has a few major lapses in logic, but the plot still comes together fairly well and moves along at a really good pace no pun intended. Based on the trailer and the now infamous Uhh meow? scene, I was concerned about the humor, but I actually found it to be pretty entertaining. The jokes didn’t always hit, but it had enough situational humor and simple sight gags (like the opening turtle scene) that just really worked for me.
There was also a lot of referential humor that I wasn’t expecting with funny allusions to plenty of movies including Speed and the Fast and Furious franchise. Another thing that really surprised me was the soundtrack. I have a feeling not too many people are gonna be talking about the music other than the Sonic themes, but this had some really good and fitting songs. It might’ve been a tad on-the-nose, but I thought using Boom by X Ambassadors during Sonic’s ìQuicksilverî scene was a really good choice.
Another fitting song was Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now which has been having a bit of a cinematic resurgence lately. Nothing will ever top Shaun of the Dead’s use of the song, but this was still pretty fun. The one song that surprised me the most though was Where Evil Grows by The Poppy Family. I love that song and it’s just such a weirdly obscure choice of music for this movie. I really want to know what else is on Dr. Robotnik’s Tunes of Anarchy playlist. So, I went into this movie skeptical, but came out pleasantly surprised.
It’s definitely not a movie that was needed or particularly called for, but it was a fun and enjoyable experience nonetheless. I’m certainly no Sonic expert, but I thought they did as much justice to the character as they possibly could with an Earth-based setting and even I spotted some nods to classic Sonic, so I’m sure there are plenty of Easter Eggs for fans. Despite its very juvenile trailer, I’d say this film is solidly aimed at an older crowd.
Kids will probably enjoy it too, but this movie is definitely capitalizing on the 30-year nostalgia cycle. Alright let’s talk about the pros and cons. Pro number one is definitely Sonic’s redesign. I know that might sound weird cause it’s predicated on a poor initial design (which might’ve been their plan all along I suppose), but I could even just say Sonic’s design in general here.
He looked really great as an entirely CG character and I think the updated design truly did the character justice. Maybe superfans will have more to nitpick with the design, but he looked exactly how I remembered Sonic looking. The second pro is the humor. I gotta say, definitely didn’t expect that going in, but I ended up really enjoying it. Some of the jokes that were clearly played for laughs didn’t always land, but there was a lot of really amusing dialogue and one-liners that fly by at blink-and-you-miss-it Sonic speed.
There were also a lot of very entertaining interactions between Sonic and Tom, as well as, surprising to me, with Dr. Robotnik as well. It’s certainly not a laugh out loud funny movie for me, but considering the fact that I was expecting a constant onslaught of juvenile humor and over-the-top Jim Carrey, this ended up being an unexpectedly entertaining watch. As far as cons go, the biggest issue for me has gotta be the blatant lapses in logic. Now I know what you’re thinking ñ you expected a videogame movie about a super fast blue hedgehog to be logical? That kind of inherent stuff is easy for me to suspend disbelief for.
What bothers me here is that the entirety of the plot is unnecessary in the context of the story. Almost the whole movie is this buddy cop road trip to go get something. So, we spend an hour and a half watching these characters drive across the country, when Sonic literally could’ve run there and back in seconds. Now obviously that would’ve made this an incredibly short movie, but it’s things like that that bug me here.
The second con is the predictability. This isn’t really a huge deal for me, especially since I didn’t go in expecting a masterpiece, but the film proceeds from one expected story beat to the next. There’s not really anything wrong with a film delivering the story we anticipate, but given the fact that this movie’s aimed at an older crowd, it would’ve been nice to have had a bit more creativity in the story. Before I give you my rating and recommendations, I want to remind you that if you’re interested in buying Sonic the Hedgehog or any of the other films I’ve mentioned today, I do have affiliate links to all of them in the description below.
I get a small commission from anything you buy using one of my links, so I’d really appreciate if you’d use them if you’re in the market for any of these movies. I’m gonna give Sonic the Hedgehog 3.5 out of 5 paws. It’s a low 3.5, but still far higher than I expected going in. This was way more enjoyable than it should’ve been and it tapped into nostalgia that I didn’t even know I had. I would recommend Sonic the Hedgehog to fans of Sonic, obviously.
I really think people who grew up with the character will get a kick out of seeing him on the big screen. There are probably some things that big fans won’t like, but the Earth setting and complete story deviation do make it different enough to overlook some of those issues. People who know and like Sonic will definitely get the most out of the movie, but even those with no nostalgia for the game or character will find it enjoyable if they’re looking for a light comedy. If you liked Sonic the Hedgehog, I would recommend Detective Pikachu.
It was last year’s successful videogame adaptation and was another movie with an initially unclear target audience that ended up being way more enjoyable that expected thanks to its humor and nostalgia. If you liked Sonic’s superspeed and want another movie that showcases the effect, you should check out X-Men: Days of Future Past for Quicksilver’s Time in a Bottle scene. And since it was so directly referenced in this movie, I’d also recommend that you watch Speed. It’s a very different type of movie, but it does have some story connections even beyond the quoted dialogue.