We’ll admit it…we we’re surprised to…
After it got pulled from release after the uproar online about subpar animation and design for the title character, Sonic The Hedgehog is now out in the world for mass consumption. Yes it’s an adaptation of a video game that’s just pretty silly…but it’s also a hell of a lot of fun.
Sonic (the voice of Ben Schwartz) navigates the complexities of life on Earth with his newfound – human – best friend Tom Wachowski (James Marsden). Sonic and Tom join forces to try and stop the villainous Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) from capturing Sonic and using his immense powers for world domination.
Ultimately Sonic The Hedgehog manages to straddle the line between kid friendly silly and is smart alecky enough to keep the adults in the audience entertained thanks to some very solid performances from an ensemble cast that you can just tell is having fun, and it jumps off the screen making for a fun trip to the movies.
The feature directorial debut for Jeff Fowler who has a nice background in visual effects crafts a surprisingly solid film that is benefiting from the updated visual character design for its hero.
It all moves at a real good pace and never gets bogged down in any useless narrative points. While there are a few too many quick cut panning shots that will cause the eye balls of adults to hemorrhage out of their respective skulls, the action is good and the animated characters all ease into the real footage incredibly well. The script leans into the silly nature of it all pretty hard at times, but for the most part it actually works and feels like it isn’t talking down to its younger core audience which actually allows it to translate into a fun, mismatched buddy road comedy that we’ve seen in various iterations before. Sonic The Hedgehog is actually trying to be for all audiences and with some performances that are very in tune with the material, it all works shockingly well.
James Marsden has a real sweet spot in movies like this as he excels at being lovingly goofy and entertaining while still managing to convey some actual stakes in the story. He’s a very likeable every man type of leading man and he’s more adept with comedy then people give him credit for. Ben Schwartz kills it as Sonic giving him a real naive yet sardonic edge that makes him sympathetic and pretty damn entertaining at the same time. Meanwhile Jim Carrey returns to the big screen with a gloriously unhinged Dr. Robotnik that isn’t just chewing the scenery around him, it’s inhaling it. Fowler really let Carrey loose here and it pays dividends as we haven’t seen Carrey at this level of pure gonzo since The Mask.
All in all, Sonic The Hedgehog probably isn’t a date movie or something that will spark any kind of serious cinematic debate after it’s screened but it’s a very smart piece of entertainment. It’s knows exactly what it is and gives that to us in spades from beginning to end.