UNCANNY VALLEY — It’s been slow when it comes to new releases lately. The awards season has come and gone, Oscar buzz is behind us and we’re entering the doldrums of movieland.
This weekend sees the release of a new film, however, that has had a lot of buzz — but possibly for many of the wrong reasons.
"Sonic the Hedgehog" is hitting theaters this weekend. While some of you may have forgotten it was coming out, I’m guessing a lot of you remembered why the movie received so much attention.
The movie was originally supposed to release in November 2019, but after backlash online following the first trailer the release date was moved. Fans of the original games were upset by Sonic’s design and the fact it was so different from that of the character in the video game.
The filmmakers listened, took the film back to the visual effects folks and redesigned the look, and moved the release date back three months.
Now that the updated movie version of Sonic looks like the old video game version of Sonic, the movie is finally ready for theaters. It’s not great, it’s not bad, but it’s fine. Here’s why:
The gold rings
I don’t think the entire cast is amazing, but the main players kept me interested.
I’ve always been a fan of James Marsden, and he plays the small-town sheriff with big-time dreams well. Sure, he’s a gorgeous sheriff with a gorgeous wife in a tiny town, but it worked and his charm was hard to ignore.
Ben Schwartz is the voice of Sonic and does the character justice. Better known as Jean Ralphio from "Parks and Recreation," Schwartz dumps the spoiled trust fund buffoon act for the innocent/reluctant hero act and pulls it off. I believed Sonic was a teenager with a big heart, quick mouth, sharp wit and fast feet — and most of that was due to Schwartz’s performance.
The old Jim Carrey has returned (kind of)
Remember the 1990s, when every other movie starred Jim Carrey and you got wacky performances each time? That Carrey is being channeled in this movie.
The villain Dr. Robtonik is absurd to begin with, and Carrey runs with it. Weird faces, physical pratfalls and silly, prancing walks are on full display in "Sonic." It’s kind of fun to see this version of Carrey come out again. True, the act can be borderline obnoxious, and I’m not saying it’s a memorable role, but I think Carrey had some fun with it and it’s fun to watch.
It’s pretty funny
I wasn’t expecting much from this movie. I thought I might smile once or twice, but would ultimately be rolling my eyes. While I did roll my eyes once or twice, I also found myself laughing out loud multiple times. There are some solid jokes and great setups throughout the movie.
There is one bar scene, in particular, that I didn’t really like that much overall. But there is also a moment when Sonic goes into hyperdrive and it’s highly enjoyable. There were enough of the latter moments to keep me interested for the short run time.
The evil villains
The story is boring
While I liked "Sonic" for the most part, the story is pretty bland; it’s something we’ve seen it a thousand times.
I wasn’t expecting anything new or wildly original from a movie geared toward kids and former children of the ‘90s who owned a Sega game console, but this was overly rudimentary. I liked some of the characters, but I didn’t care too much about what was going on or the stakes involved.
While I thought the movie was fun, I realized afterward that this will be a film I’ll come across on Netflix a few years in the future and I’ll think to myself, "Oh yeah. I forgot all about this. Should I watch it?"
Then I’ll hit play on season three of "The Office" and forget about it all over again.
Is it worth watching?
Here is the important part. No one really cares if an adult man in his late 30s liked the movie, but what about the 6-year-old who saw it with the thirty-something man?
My son ate the movie up. He thought it was hilarious and filled with action. As soon as we got home he was running around our driveway asking me if he was as fast as Sonic. (For the record, he is not.)
The movie is for kids, and I think it delivers in that area. The bonus for parents? You may not absolutely hate it.
"Sonic the Hedgehog" is rated PG for action, some violence, rude humor and brief mild language.