Sonic the Hedgehog (PG)
Starring Jim Carrey, James Marsden, the voice of Ben Schwartz
Directed by Jeff Fowler
Hey, it works.
Do a facial makeover better than Michael Jackson's. And, man, Sonic the Hedgehog snags the biggest box office opening ever in America — US$58 million (S$83 mil)— for any movie based on a video game.
Surely you know that the blue speedball of quills — it still looks kinda furry — has been de-toothed to make it less scary for the kids and presumably also their dads who stunted their growth playing the Sega video game back in the 1990s.
Sonic's motor mouth (voiced by Ben Schwartz from Parks and Recreation) still runs on turbo. Boy, this thing just can't stop talking. “Why am I, an incredibly handsome boy in blue, being chased by a creep in a Civil War moustache?” he asks himself in the middle of a Flash-style chase at the start of the flick.
The animal is hunted because after escaping from nasties in his home planet via some kind of magical teleportation ring borrowed maybe from Gandalf, he ends up stranded alone on Earth where people are generally much slower than him. Which makes even one of his glowing blue quills a source of tremendous power highly sought after by very unsavoury villains.
By the way, cue in adorable misty-eyed cuteness because this lonely-orphan deal really gets you. Especially when Sonic plays baseball in every position, including game commentator, all by himself at super speed in an empty field.
Anyway, the sass is right here; the attitude is cocky. But Blue Blur doesn't have the small eyes and creepy teeth from the first trailer anymore that freaked out kids like he's Hannibal Lecter and required a three-month release delay for emergency redrawing. This critter now has big cutesy Japanese-anime eyes that's scoring adorable aw-shucks and awesome hugs at the emoji level.
Look, this isn't rocket science despite the rocket speed here. “Look at this. I took nine million steps today,” Sonic continues yakking and yakking. It isn't the greatest creature feature either. Nothing earth-shattering has been invented. We're not talking a Parasite-class Oscar sweep.
But, simply by just keeping it straight, quick, likeable and not excruciatingly annoying, Redo Blue here is truly a fun and fast ride. Thanks largely to Redo Man, Jim Carrey, playing the absolutely nutty baddie here. More of him soon.
I mean, c'mon, the film shamelessly rips off the freeze-everybody-in-stop-time mode — ala the X-Men movies — when Sonic, moving like Quicksilver in a comical brawl in a biker bar, re-adjusts folks to make them do silly things to each other. It's a rehashed gag but, what the heck, we still laugh readily.
Primarily because this is a movie made for little people that makes big people not irritated or embarrassed in enjoying it themselves openly. Seriously, when was the last time a kid flick was actually made for kids? Where old me and video-game retirees can just sit back and not be screeched to death like in a Chipmunks deal or be brain-strained by a too over-plotted Pokémon Detective Pikachu.
That's because luckily, the obligatory human dude befriending Sonic here is a nice, affable sheriff, Tom Wachowski (X-Men's James Marsden), whose plan to go to his dream post in San Francisco gets sidetracked by an alien comedian who calls him, “the Donut Lord”.
I tell you, their chemistry, as far as chemistry can go between a real person and a non-existent computerised thingy, is really terrific with Marsden not over-hamming his role. Plus I dig the Barack Obama rainbow-coalition diversity here of white guy, black wife (Ride Along's Tika Sumpter) and space freak as a winning combo.
But Sonic the Hedgehog works mostly because the bigger and funnier re-do here is the comeback of Jim Carrey as the creep in a Civil War moustache. He's government-sanctioned mad genius, Dr Robotnik, who is at least 50 screws loose into a mental asylum for toaster spare parts.
Sonic calls him “Eggman”. We can call him “Deadman returns from the dead” because Carrey is totally in-the-zone hilarious here as an insanely arrogant egghead in steampunk goggles and ridiculous whiskers who's so in love with no one except pure-bred machines and his army of flying drones. There's a truly clever speed scene here where the crazy chases the critter involving smaller and smaller machines coming out of a crashed car which, I swear, is not too late still to insert into the upcoming James Bond film.
Okay, maybe we needed a break of about 25 years from Carrey's Ace Ventura and The Mask to recover our sanity. But, finally, the man's found the perfect vehicle — boy, he flies a wacky-sexy bad-guy plane — to re-use his long KIV-ed repertoire of jerky-robot and total-jerk moves.
No one can do one-inch-away-from-your-face insults like this fella, preening with, er, very fruity superiority. “I'm the top banana in a world full of monkeys,” he proudly declares, going after the critter with the zest of an animal-control psycho with a mutt biting his butt.
Sonic hurls back the one-liner zingers as good as he gets. Hedgehog vs Whackjob — man, you can't get any more entertaining than this. (***1/2)