Too dumb for adults craving a nostalgia-powered dopamine fix and too dated for kids who don’t know a Sega Genesis from the book of Exodus, the question isn’t what is Sonic the Hedgehog but why is Sonic the Hedgehog. The answer is obviously that every single “intellectual property” from Pet Rocks to breakfast cereal mascots are destined to have greedy hands shoved inside of them, probing for any possible profit.
Sonic the Hedgehog got a tsunami of nasty publicity after unveiling an initial design for the creature that sported grossly realistic teeth that could only be intended to feast on human flesh. Animators furiously slaved away to completely redo the abomination and were subsequently rewarded by losing their jobs just after finishing. Basically, Sonic the Hedgehog is a distilled encapsulation of all the useless, banal grotesqueries inherent to our collective capitalist nightmare in a fuzzy blue ball. Eat it up, kiddos!
If you thought they wouldn’t give Sonic (Ben Schwartz) a tragic backstory, you forget how many times Hollywood has violently killed Batman’s parents on screen. Apparently, the blue alien hedgehog with electrical powers and super-speed was an orphan raised by an owl who then gets murdered. Using magical teleporting rings, Sonic flees to earth, where he hides in the kind of small town romanticized in every politician’s stump speech.
Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), the local cop, soon finds himself on the run with Sonic, protecting him from the evil Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey), who is mostly made of mustache. Tom and Sonic become best buds while startin’ bar fights and makin’ jokes about farts. Will the duo escape? Sadly, no. Tom dies of dysentery, and Sonic is skinned for his pelt. Kidding! The script is so predictable, an artificial intelligence program may have written it while daydreaming about the indie dramedy it really hopes to write one day.
Undoubtedly, Sonic the Hedgehog historians and lore-masters have strong feelings as to whether the film does right by the quilled speedster. The impression given is that the character is supposed to be sassy and flippant, but his one-liners are basically Laffy Taffy rejects peppered with the odd body odor reference. Speaking of things that were once funny but are now somewhat uncomfortable, Carrey’s role has been celebrated as a “return to comic form.” Well, he certainly makes a lot of rubbery faces from his 90s heyday while going Ace Ventura on every line delivery. The effect feels exactly like someone reminiscing about a time they once laughed.
With Doolittle’s stank still wafting through theater air, nobody can claim Sonic the Hedgehog is even the worst family film within the last 5 weeks. Honestly, had the aspiring franchise stuck to its guns and went with the character’s monstrously misshapen original design, at least that would have been some kind of artistic choice. In the end, the film is a breezy, pointless, harmlessly forgettable bit of nostalgia exploitation that will leave a blue streak behind as it rapidly exits our collective artistic consciousness.
Grade = C-