- Main Cast
- Ben Schwartz
What director Jeff Fowler and scriptwriters Patrick Casey and Josh Miller leaned into in ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ is the absurdity of its spectacle. By leaning into it, they unburdened themselves with any need to ground the film in any sense of logical reality, and managed to create a space to inject the wild ride of the narrative with a big serving of heart.
I’ll admit, I came into ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ thinking I wasn’t going to enjoy myself and that I was the wrong demographic for this movie. Instead, I was so pleasantly surprised that the film eases itself into its video game roots and just presents a believable reality where a talking, super-fast, blue hedgehog exists in parallel dimensions. After explaining quickly how he gets into our world, Fowler, Casey, and Miller proceed to find a very relatable emotion for Sonic to dwell on -- his loneliness.
Because as the story unfolds, Sonic is hiding away on Earth for ten years watching the lives of the residents of Green Hills, Montana; his home while on the run.
Always on the outside, Sonic longs for a sense of family and belonging. His super speed is so fast that he keeps himself company. He plays table tennis with himself, and after he sees a little league game, he proceeds to play a whole game of baseball by himself. It is a wonderfully directed scene where Sonic is so fast he can play pitcher, batter, second base, outfield, and catcher all at the same time. It’s a wonderfully edited and covered scene that shows he’s so fast.
But it also magnificently shows that no matter how fast Sonic is, he can never outrun his loneliness. And this leads him to commit an act that puts him in the radar of the government. And the government sends the mad genius Doctor Robotnik to investigate.
Now, Sonic enlists the help of his favourite Green Hills resident, the policeman Tom Wachowski, and the two team up to escape the clutches of Doctor Robotnik.
It’s a simple enough story and in its straightforward simplicity, the narrative could focus on Sonic’s loneliness and how teaming up with Tom Wachowski somehow fills an emptiness inside of him.
The genius behind the scenes prior showing us that Sonic is so fast he has spent ten years being his own company; implies that he’s sort of gone a little crazy. He often talks to himself, has a heightened sense of confidence from constantly putting himself up on a pedestal, an obvious defense mechanism for the obvious lack of connection with another being.
It’s all implied but it roots the character and grounds him and makes him very real and very relatable even if he’s a blue, CGI, humanoid hedgehog.
And the interplay between Sonic’s need for connection is contrasted by Dr. Robotnik’s absolute frustration with human beings. As a certified genius, Dr. Robotnik finds everyone else stupid and beneath him and prefers the company of robots, who he finds more efficient and less disappointing.
While Ben Schwartz does a wonderful job of voicing Sonic, the movie really belongs to James Marsden and Jim Carrey. Carrey is in excellent form here with physical comedy that is so surprising and hilarious even though this is completely within the realm of what we would expect from him. His obvious adlib and improvisations are a hoot and make the film extra enjoyable.
Marsden, though, provides the heart. He knows exactly what kind of movie he’s in and doesn’t try to pretend otherwise. He understands the milieu and gives it the right sense of earnestness that never feels cloying or over the top. He’s a believable good guy who would quickly dispel his disbelief and come to the aid of this strange being. He really makes it work.
I’m surprised because I really didn’t think I’d find ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ enjoyable. Instead, I had a wonderful time and had some good laughs.