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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ – Fast Enough

Ben Nietzel
Ben Nietzel works as the principal of Saints Mary and Mathias Catholic School. He also enjoys coaching Muskie football and reviewing movies.

Muscatine Living

Perhaps the second most famous video game character in history sprints onto the big screen in this adaptation. Sonic, an ultra-fast blue hedgehog from space, must get some help from a local sheriff if he is to escape capture by an evil genius working for the U.S. government.

Pro – Funny

“Sonic the Hedgehog” follows in a long line of successful video game titles trying to make a financially successful leap to movies. Almost all of them have failed. The fact that a film about a talking, blue hedgehog from space succeeding sounds absurd.

And yet, the goofiness of the premise might be the film’s greatest strength. It’s hard to take such a premise too seriously, and so the film doesn’t. Instead, Sonic presents a lighthearted romp that is happy to laugh along with the audience as it goes. Kids will laugh at the physical humor, while there are plenty of one-liners and Easter eggs to grab a chuckle from adults too.

James Marsden is charming as small-town sheriff Tom and puts his experience from “Hop” to good use here. Tika Sumpter plays his wife Maddie, and their chemistry is enjoyable throughout.

The big draw, of course, is Jim Carrey as evil genius Dr. Robotnik. Usually when big stars throw themselves full gusto into an over-the-top part like this, it’s a disaster. Jim Carrey’s whole career is based on over-the-top gusto though, and so he nails it, adding real humor and legitimacy to what could have otherwise been a complete farce.

Pro – Got Heart

Perhaps the best part of “Sonic the Hedgehog” is the fact that it leans into its younger audience. There is plenty here for seasoned-Sonic video game fans, but the creators realize at its core this is a kids movie. As such, the movie moves briskly and never overstays its welcome. Even better, Sonic is a really nice story. It’s a well-worn premise of bonding over an adventure, but it’s presented really well and provides kids with nice sentiments about friendship and belonging. It doesn’t do so with a giant club though, and instead it feels organic and thus authentic.

Neutral – A Blue Hedgehog from Space

There is a lot of praise to be had for “Sonic the Hedgehog.” It would have been quite easy (and expected) for it to miss its mark and be another video game adaptation failure. It is not. That said, this is a movie about a blue hedgehog from space who can talk, run super-fast, and sometimes explode with energy that seems to do different things at different times. With its charming story and themes of friendship, it’s wonderful for kids. Further, big fans of the video game series should find enough nostalgia and nods to enjoy themselves as well. For anyone else, it’s going to be a hard sell. If you aren’t watching it with kids or a Sonic poster hanging on your wall somewhere, this film really isn’t going to offer anything you want to see. It’s well done and deserves to be successful, but it’s also very targeted in who will enjoy it.

“Sonic the Hedgehog” defies expectations and is a much better movie than it should have been. Watched by the right audience, it’ll be very well received. Sprint to the Fridley Palms Theatre for some fresh popcorn and watch it on your favorite streaming service tonight!

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