Understand this right out of the gate: Sonic the Hedgehog is a movie for kids. Yeah, yeah, you grew up with Sonic (and Tails and Knuckles and Amy and Big the Cat), and you want to feel the nostalgia and blah blah blah—just stop it. It’s Sega. For kids. And yet, as movies based on video games and/or little more than nostalgia go, it’s not as soullessly awful as you’d assume.
Yes, it’s true the animation company behind the film (Canada’s Moving Picture Company Vancouver) shut down after fierce fan backlash over the original Sonic’s uncanny-valley-as-fuck design delayed the opening and caused a labor-intensive overhaul of the film’s CGI. But if you can disconnect yourself from how toxic fans ruin everything long enough to catch this—as well as how weird it feels to give a deep backstory to an ancient video game about a fast-talkin’ and faster-running hedgehog—it’s, like, pretty OK.
The story’s weird—a powerful hedgehog (his name is Sonic) has cool powers, so of course evil forces want the powers. Luckily, this particular powerful hedgehog was raised by an owl with a sack of powerful rings that work like inter-dimensional portals. When the baddies come, the owl sends Sonic away (with its powers) to small-town Earth, where he falls victim to heavy isolation, turns weird and builds a life, sort of.
Somehow, Sonic gets noticed by the human people he’s been hiding from for years without any trouble whatsoever. The government isn’t down, so they send super-scientist Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carey) to investigate. He likes robots, is evil. To escape, Sonic enlists the help of a local sheriff (James Marsden), and together they hit the road, navigating explosions and friendship and enjoying jokes about how Sonic can run really fast. They also diss Mario a little, but that one’s just for the parents and the olds who go see the flick.
Again, it’s for kids, and if this newspaper were aimed only at children, this thing would be a straight 10 out of 10 (the kids in our theater could not have laughed harder). The special effects are a blast, there are butt jokes aplenty, Sonic is cute and sassy and voiced by Parks and Rec alum Ben Schwartz with just the right combo of sweet and salty. Carey in particular becomes enjoyably strange, especially in solo scenes that showcase his special brand of insanity. Marsden’s character could’ve been played by anyone, and the same goes for his wife (Southside With You‘s Tika Sumpter), a black actress who literally is told by her cop husband at one point that he’s going to “abuse his power as an officer of the law,” which seems absurdly tone-deaf and shitty to us.
But then it’s back to the explosions and speed and the setting up of a sequel. Early reports say Sonic has had the best opening of any game-based film ever, so that’s something. Oh, and Adam Pally is in it for a couple scenes, and he’s just delightful.
In the end? See it if you have kids, pretend you didn’t rent it on Amazon later if you don’t.
10 (for kids); 6 (for adults)
+Dorky and fun; Sonic grows on you
-Casting for the Marsden role was probably like “Any OK-looking man”
Sonic the Hedgehog
Directed by Jeff Fowler
With Carey, Schwartz, Marsden and Sumpter
Violet Crown, Regal (both locations), PG, 99 min.
This content was originally published here.