Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow

‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ a surprising­ly good time


I’m as surprised as anyone to report that “Sonic the Hedgehog,” the adaptation of the popular ’90s Sega video game, is actually good. Expectatio­ns have been low since the movie’s rocky rollout in its first trailer, with online backlash regarding the look of the computer-generated character requiring animators to go back to the drawing board, completely redesignin­g the speedy blue hedgehog. So color me surprised to discover that “Sonic the Hedgehog” is legitimate­ly funny, heartwarmi­ng and entertaini­ng.

There are a few hard and fast facts about Sonic: he claims to be a hedgehog, he runs everywhere, he’s from an idyllic island and he has little golden rings that allow him to transport himself anywhere. Writers Patrick Casey and Josh Miller plug those character traits into a story structure that is well-loved and a bit retro, an odd couple road movie about friendship.

Ben Schwartz voices Sonic, a lonely alien living in exile on Earth for his own safety, where he longs to connect with the humans around him in the small Montana town of Green Hills (one could even describe Sonic as an asylum-seeking refugee

who just wants to be accepted in his community).

James Marsden co-stars as Tom Wachowski, the cop who takes Sonic under his care, with Tika Sumpter

playing his veterinari­an wife, and Adam Pally and Natasha Rothwell in very funny supporting roles. But of course, the big news here, and drumroll please, is Jim Carrey’s glorious return to his best rubber-faced, fast-talking form as Sonic’s main antagonist, a secretive government mad scientist named Dr. Robotnik.

This entire review could be dedicated to Carrey’s delightful, outsized and wildly campy performanc­e, feverishly pitched somewhere between “Ace Ventura” and “The Mask.” Though Dr. Robotnik, with his fascist haircut, twirly mustache and high-tech mobile lab, is deemed a “psychologi­cal tire fire” by a worried general, he’s dispatched to Montana after Sonic’s solo baseball game generates an electrical surge that causes a power outage all over the Pacific Northwest. When he discovers clues leading to an alien life form, the doctor sets his sights on tracking and trapping this exciting new discovery, hoping to claim Sonic for scientific research.

The plot is simple and the emotions are easy to understand (it is decidedly a movie for children or childlike adults, and should be regarded as such). It’s a chase movie that becomes a road movie, underpinne­d by Sonic’s yearning desire for companions­hip.

When he accidental­ly connects with Tom, it’s his chance to do all the things he always wanted to do on Earth, before he has to banish himself to a mushroom planet. It’s an unlikely friendship story, and Marsden has the earnestnes­s to sell that he truly cares about his little furry blue friend. As for those special effects? They look great. Turns out “Sonic the Hedgehog” needed a bit more time in the hopper, and thanks to that, it cruises to an easy and enjoyable finish.

 ?? PARAMOUNT PICTURES/SEGA OF AMERICA ?? Sonic, voiced by Ben Schwartz, in “Sonic the Hedgehog.”
PARAMOUNT PICTURES/SEGA OF AMERICA Sonic, voiced by Ben Schwartz, in “Sonic the Hedgehog.”

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