REEL Review – Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

Director: Jeff Fowler | Runtime: 1h 39mins | Action, Adventure, Comedy

After leaving his home planet and moving to Earth, Sonic (Ben Schwartz) minds his own business in rural Montana. After a small accident Sonic finds himself on the run from Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) with only a small-town cop to help him.

It’s a been a while now since Paramount released the original look for their CGI Sonic, which was met with controversy because of it’s unappealing and downright unsettling look. In an attempt to humanise the blue hedgehog they somehow made him look even less human than SEGA’s original model. Thankfully, with some push from fans, they readjusted the look to something we can all recognise. But while the new Sonic is reminiscent of the 90’s staple we all know and love, the movie as whole seems to forget who they should really be targeting, and misses far more than it hits.

Set on the peaceful backdrop of Green Hills Montana, Sonic is a self-amused people watcher, pretending to be a part of the human world when really his closest thing to a conversation is with himself. But it’s his fast-paced nattering and non-existent attention span that keep you entertained by him and in many ways Sonic, along with a couple of human performances, is the strongest part of the start of the narrative. His new look is strong, and Ben Schwartz (probably known for his funniest role in Parks and Recreations [2009]) keeps up with the momentum of the character he’s voicing. But unfortunately Sonic’s constant lack of awareness and grace does become tiresome, and by the end the mild chuckles you get will quickly be lost among the hefty fart-based jokes and childish behaviour.

Sometimes Carrey does go overboard, but the majority of the time he’s a delight to watch, giving the world some much needed absurdity that we’ve missed dearly.

Accompanying him is small-town cop with big dreams Tom (James Marsden), who’s wish of a more hectic life is quickly turned around when he meets the ever-moving Sonic. While Tom does have some really awkward lines, Marsden does the best he can. The film slowly takes the form of a buddy comedy, as Marsden attempts to riff and flow with a CGI character (which he’s done before to acceptable effect), he really pulls out all the stops to sell the product he’s a part of.

Sonic’s impact on popular culture is obvious, and someone else who made quite the impact in the 1990’s was Jim Carrey. His eccentric comedy hasn’t been seen for a while though, but luckily he gives us a taste of what made him a comedy-great, flailing his legs about in an oddly entertaining dance sequence, and also trying to match the animated character in cartoonish behaviour. Sometimes Carrey does go overboard, but the majority of the time he’s a delight to watch, giving the world some much needed absurdity that we’ve missed dearly.

The problem is that Sonic can’t figure out it’s audience. As a figure of worldwide nostalgia you’d expect a lot of nods to the generation that once treasured the hedgehog in their childhood, but unfortunately the movies tone and dialogue make no real attempt, and the humour is left mostly for a younger age. It’s a movie caught between two times, instead of embracing both the contemporary and the past it half-heartedly tiptoes around it’s audience and leaves itself with no real voice. The action is harmless though, but like a lot of things in this movie by the end it becomes a tiresome cycle that leaves you a little underwhelmed, as Sonic and Tom continuously bat off a variety of Robotniks bots.

There is such a bad stigma attached to video game adaptations that among the sea of blunders Sonic the Hedgehog may standout as a positive. But it’s qualities rest solely on the human performances, leaving it’s humour, action and main character as an eye-rolling mess by the end.

Verdict:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

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