Going Out in London Discover
Big news: Sonic the Hedgehog has a crush on James Marsden! But wait. Maybe (to borrow a line used by the video game mascot in his movie debut) I’m going too fast and need to back up.
In 1991, the Japanese company Sega created a video game in which a manic pixie dream hedgehog sped around, collecting gold rings. Almost three decades on, Sonic’s still enough of a household name for Paramount to launch what they clearly hope will be a franchise, though the company had a set-back when the first trailer for this part-CGI, part-live-action adventure caused fans of the game to have waking nightmares (they were repulsed by Sonic’s long limbs, small eyes and glinting teeth). Director Jeff Fowler listened to the fans and fixed those problems. It’s like Cats all over again. Except for the listening ’n’ fixing bit.
Anyway, here’s Sonic 2.0 (voiced by Ben Schwartz), a lonely orphan refugee from outer space, who spends his teens spying on a handsome Montana sheriff, Tom (Marsden). When events throw the two together, Sonic fixates on certain aspects of his new best friend, describing one of Tom’s perfectly ordinary T-shirts as “tight-fitting”. That’s sweetly romantic, right? Or possibly weird. Luckily for Fowler, weird is in vogue. Like last year’s Detective Pikachu, Sonic the Hedgehog seems designed to discombobulate adults all set for bland family piffle.
It’s Tom and Sonic’s dream to reach San Francisco (make of that what you will). As they navigate a journey that involves various ring-shaped portals there’s a nice joke about hipsters, and a cool car chase and fizzy special effects (whenever Sonic gets angry or excited, his hormonal surges make the air crackle).
Best of all, though, is Jim Carrey, as rogue scientist, Dr Robotnik. Carrey’s bid to be taken seriously, in the late nineties and noughties, was misguided (he was a waste of space in the last episode of The Larry Sanders Show; he was the weak link in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). What he excels at is insanely cartoonish gurning and that’s what we get in Sonic. Robotnik does a spasmodic dance to a song from his “Anarchists’ Playlist”, screams compliments at his lickspittle and, when Tom states that he was breastfed, snarls back, “O, rub that in my orphan face!”
Let’s be clear. There are plenty of unoriginal/moronic/mundane moments in Sonic and when Carrey yells “give me a big fat break” he’s probably thinking, “give me a big fat cheque”. Still, he pumps so much electricity into the proceedings that you don’t feel cheated. The world contains many terrible video game movies. This isn’t one of them.
Sonic the Hedgehog – In pictures