Review: 'Sonic the Hedgehog' a fast, fun, family-friendly good time

The Sega character comes to life in lively comic adventure

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

Cute, funny and light on its feet, "Sonic the Hedgehog" is a colorful, playful adventure about the lovable blue speedster made famous in a series of video games on Sega platforms in the 1990s. 

That would be Sonic, who became Sega's answer to Nintendo's Mario and sped his way through a handful of interactive adventures, collecting rings and fighting off the evil Dr. Robotnik along the way.

Ben Schwartz voices Sonic in "Sonic the Hedgehog."

There was never much to Sonic's character — he was blue and he was fast, that was about it — but that doesn't matter to "Sonic the Hedgehog," which treats Sonic like an adorable space creature in a fish-out-of-water scenario. Think "E.T." in running shoes.

Sonic, voiced by "Parks and Recreation's" Ben Schwartz, finds himself in the small town of Green Hills, Montana, after escaping evil forces on his home planet that wanted to exploit his lightning fast speed.

He makes a quiet home for himself hiding out in the shadows of the small town, where he peers through the windows of the town sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) and his wife Maddie (Tika Sumpter). He learns human behavior by watching action movies, so his idea of life on earth is informed by "Speed" and the "Fast and the Furious" saga.

When he causes a town-wide power outage, he attracts the attention of Dr. Robotnik, an evil scientist played with demented "Ace Ventura" energy by Jim Carrey. To Carrey's credit, he knows exactly the type of movie he's appearing in, and hams it up with just the right amount of ridiculous idiocy. 

Jim Carrey in "Sonic the Hedgehog."

Sonic teams up with Marsden's character to help him get to San Francisco, where he'll be able to beam back to his home planet. Why does Sonic, who is so fast he can travel anywhere in the snap of a finger, need a small town sheriff to help get him to the Bay Area? Because he doesn't know where it is, that's why. (Screenwriters Patrick Casey and Josh Miller give Sonic plenty of lively pop culture-centric banter, but the story's structure could use some tightening.)

"Sonic" then becomes a road trip movie, and once the hedgehog learns what a bucket list is, he makes one for himself. He wants to start a bar fight and cause a ruckus but most of all, he wants to make a real friend, which he finds in Tom. 

Aww. "Sonic" isn't transcendent family entertainment but it gets the job done, and Carrey's manic shtick elevates the proceedings. Director Jeff Fowler finds the right tone for the movie — it's clever without being too cool for school or ironically detached from itself — and for the most part, it zips along.

Chalk one up for Sonic; Mario never made a movie this fun. 

'Sonic the Hedgehog' 


Rated PG: for action, some violence, rude humor and brief mild language

Running time: 100 minutes