Rating: 2 out of 5
On a stormy Sunday morning in central London, the woman in front of me at the cinema concession stand scans the options available. She turns away and, in a downcast voice, says: “Oh. There’s no alcohol.”
If you take one line with you through this review, it should be that one.
I never had a Sega Megadrive as a kid. I got as far as the Master System, and then found myself getting too anxious on Level 4 of Mickey Mouse and the Castle of Illusion. I was, however, a Sonic fan. And there did always seem to be the scope for this character, silent as he was, to make the leap to the big screen. But it hasn’t, as you may have already read, been an easy road to get here. Early trailers scared the rings out of almost everyone, when Sonic’s human-like eyes lost us all a few night’s sleep.
But now here we are: slightly less disturbing eyes, and an Earth-based tale starring the good looking one from Anchorman 2 as the hapless small-towner saddled with a blue alien hedgehog, and Jim Carrey as the big bad whatever. Aaaaaaaand… that’s the plot.
The gold standard for features involving a CGI animal in the real world must surely be the Paddington movies. They’re heartfelt, funny, beautifully-acted and ‑written, moving the character into a modern context, yet also retaining the essential flavour which made the stories so popular in the first place.
Sonic the Hedgehog does almost one of these.
You get the feeling that Carrey was chosen to drag in the adults, and provide the now time-honoured element of having a few jokes which go over the young’uns’ heads. But lines such as “look what came out of my egg sack!” and another one discussing breastfeeding sit uncomfortably within a movie squarely aimed at children – one with a simple and simplistic plot, and exposition which would make a Downton Abbey script editor go, “Ooooh, that’s a bit clunky.”
That said, Carrey is a welcome presence, lifting the film from something completely underwhelming to something mildly tolerable. Picture an evil Ace Ventura pitted against a slightly annoying space hedgehog and you’re pretty much there. The hedgehog himself – not quite endearing enough to properly root for – is fine. Yet, crucially, the quality of the CGI is a letdown. The character looks copied and pasted into the real world. This jars throughout the film, and stops you from suspending disbelief. This is especially unfortunate in a film for which an awful lot of disbelief suspending is required.
And what’s the message? It’s that friends are the most important th… No. It’s that even though you can leave home, home never leaves y… No… Hold on… It’s that even though you’re a supersonic blue space hedgehog, home is where you make i… hmmm. It’s that you never really know how valued you are until a blue hedgehog… No. No – I give up.
In sum: this is 90 minutes that, if you’re looking to distract some wayward young’uns this half term, you won’t feel have been completely wasted. Just make sure the concession stand does alcohol.