Not- so- su­per ‘ Sonic the Hedgehog’ is just OK

USA TODAY International Edition - - LIFE - Brian Truitt

Domo ari­gato, Dr. Robot­nik. The fleet- footed ti­tle char­ac­ter might be the an­i­mated one in “Sonic the Hedgehog,” but Jim Car­rey’s gog­gled, mus­tache- twirling vil­lain Robot­nik is the most car­toon­ish guy around. “Sonic” ( rated PG; in the­aters na­tion­wide Fri­day) takes their ri­valry from the pop­u­lar Sega video games to the big screen with so- so re­sults as it mixes live- ac­tion com­edy with CGI an­i­mals and some se­ri­ous speed.

Af­ter flee­ing his home planet ( thanks to his world- hopping golden rings) when foes want to take his pow­ers, alien crit­ter Sonic ends up in Green Hills, Mon­tana. A bit of an ur­ban legend in town – the res­i­dent weirdos think they’ve seen a “blue devil” – Sonic en­joys hid­ing among the pop­u­lace in his for­est man cave ( com­plete with Flash comics), help­ing at times but hav­ing fun with lo­cal sher­iff Tom Wa­chowski ( James Mars­den), whom Sonic deems “Dough­nut Lord” for the sug­ary treats he munches.

Tom is de­bat­ing a dream job as a

San Fran­cisco cop when he has a chance meet­ing with Sonic rum­mag­ing around in his shed. The lit­tle blue dude’s magic rings ac­ci­den­tally ( and rather for­tu­itously for the nar­ra­tive) end up on a Bay Area sky­scraper and Sonic, who la­ments his lonely life, jumps at the chance to go on a road trip with his new best bud.

At the same time, the gov­ern­ment gets a whiff of Sonic’s abil­i­ties when he zooms so fast around a base­ball di­a­mond that he knocks out elec­tric­ity for miles. Want­ing to har­ness it for them­selves, the au­thor­i­ties send for mega­lo­ma­ni­a­cal ge­nius Robot­nik, who em­barks on an ob­ses­sive mis­sion to cap­ture Sonic with his le­gion of high- tech drones.

The movie gives Car­rey a chance to do some­thing fresh and ex­cit­ing with Robot­nik, and he’s fun to a de­gree – dude’s still got some dance moves – yet so much of the char­ac­ter is a re­tread of his goofy great­est hits from “The Mask” and “Ace Ven­tura.” ( On the plus side, kids who’ve never seen Car

rey mimic a mouth with his butt cheeks as he did back in the ’ 90s might find him a com­edy ge­nius in this.)

Mars­den is a solid straight man to the self- as­sured, hy­per­ac­tive Sonic, a fan of “Speed” and “Fast & Fu­ri­ous” ref­er­ences given fab­u­lous and mis­chievous vo­cal life by Ben Schwartz.

The new pals’ bud­ding friendship leads to some of the movie’s best scenes, in­clud­ing a chaotic visit to a road­house bar where Sonic rides an elec­tric bull.

While the sneaker- clad hedgehog is a cool char­ac­ter, his look and feel still seems like a work in progress. The first trailer for di­rec­tor Jeff Fowler’s fam­i­lyfriendly ad­ven­ture took so much heat for its ver­sion of Sonic that had hu­man­like teeth and body pro­por­tions that didn’t match the game. The char­ac­ter was re­designed for the final film, and now sport­ing big eyes and a cuter aes­thetic, the new Sonic looks bet­ter – and way less like night­mare fuel – but dis­tinctly out of place amid the live ac­tion.

It’s like Sonic got stuck some­where be­tween hand- drawn “Who Framed Roger Rab­bit” ter­ri­tory and the pho­to­re­al­is­tic “Lion King” an­i­mals, though there are some eye- pop­ping se­quences with him do­ing his speed- de­mon thing, es­pe­cially a chase be­tween Sonic and Robot­nik that hits var­i­ous in­ter­na­tional land­marks and uses the Great Wall of China as a race­track.

The film is fine, fa­mil­iar fare for gamers and chil­dren: Sonic sprints, Car­rey mugs, but the cre­ative juices run out quickly.

PARA­MOUNT PIC­TURES AND SEGA OF AMER­ICA

Sonic ( voiced by Ben Schwartz) stars in “Sonic the Hedgehog.”

Sonic ( voiced by Ben Schwartz) and Tom ( James Mars­den) go on a ac­tion- packed road trip to San Fran­cisco in “Sonic the Hedgehog.”

Jim Car­rey plays mega­lo­ma­ni­a­cal ge­nius Dr. Robot­nik. PHOTOS BY PARA­MOUNT PIC­TURES AND SEGA OF AMER­ICA

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