The dream of the ‘90s is alive in “Sonic the Hedgehog,” which – and it will surprise exactly no one to hear this – is at its hyper-kinetic best when it’s channeling the turbo-charged, cartoonish energy of the world’s fastest furball to sugary visual ends, as disposable as they may be. Highways, buildings, digitized jungles, one-liners—Sonic, here voiced by “Parks and Recreation’s” Ben Schwartz, and “Sonic” sets land-speed records on them all. It’s when he’s motionless and the movie anguishes through a tedious story of adopted families and existentialism that its joys tend to screech to a halt as well.
The feature debut of director Jeff Fowler, “Sonic” is arriving a few months later than intended, a delayed release that allowed the visual effects maestros to give the titular speedster a makeover after the first reaction’s to his initial appearance back in 2019 would have you believe people had dunked themselves in holy water. The movie’s writers – Patrick Casey and Josh Miller – perhaps should have also used that time to come up with an engaging story in line with its title character’s carefree sensibilities, and not the hackneyed outsider-in-need-of-a-friend template that feels like a back-to-basics homage to “E.T.” There’s at least a hint of the former in the early minutes, when the movie opts for a self-awareness of glorious storytelling delirium, like a DreamWorks project unfolding at 1.5x speed. Continue reading →