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'Sonic the Hedgehog': Surprisingly funny and fresh

Ben Schwartz voices the title character in "Sonic

Ben Schwartz voices the title character in "Sonic the Hedgehog." Credit: Paramount Pictures/Sega of America

PLOT A mad scientist it out to captured the Earthbound Sonic.

CAST Ben Schwartz, James Marsden, Jim Carrey, Tika Sumpter
RATED PG (action, some violence, rude humor and brief mild language)


BOTTOM LINE Funny and fuzzy with a scene-stealing performance by Carrey.

Life is full of surprises, and "Sonic the Hedgehog" — the screen adaptation of the '90s Sega video game — is a legitimately funny, heartwarming and entertaining case in point. Sprinkled with Sonic’s hyperspeedy powers and anti-government messages, it’s a little bit "E.T.," one part "Harry and the Hendersons," with a dash of "National Lampoon’s Vacation," and it’s a fun throwback tale for this little blue ball of energy.
Ben Schwartz voices Sonic, a lonely alien living in exile on Earth for his own safety, where he longs to connect with the humans around him in the Montana town of Green Hills. James Marsden co-stars as Tom Wachowski, the cop who takes Sonic under his care, with Tika Sumpter playing his veterinarian wife, and Adam Pally and Natasha Rothwell in funny supporting roles. But the big news, and drumroll please, is Jim Carrey’s glorious turn as Sonic’s main antagonist, a secretive government mad scientist named Dr. Robotnik.
This entire review could be dedicated to Carrey’s delightful, outsized and wildly campy performance, feverishly pitched somewhere between "Ace Ventura" and "The Mask." Though Dr. Robotnik, with his fascist haircut, twirly mustache and high-tech mobile lab, is deemed a "psychological tire fire" by a worried general, he’s dispatched to Montana after Sonic’s solo baseball game generates an electrical surge that causes a power outage all over the Pacific Northwest. When he discovers clues leading to an alien life form, the doctor sets his sights on tracking and trapping this exciting new discovery, hoping to claim Sonic for scientific research.
The plot is simple and the emotions are easy to understand. It’s a chase movie that becomes a road movie, underpinned by Sonic’s yearning desire for companionship. When he accidentally connects with Tom, it’s his chance to do all the things he always wanted to do on Earth, before he has to banish himself to a mushroom planet. It’s an unlikely friendship story, and Marsden has the earnestness to sell that he truly cares about his little furry blue friend.

"Sonic the Hedgehog" may have needed a bit more time in the hopper, but it still cruises to an easy and enjoyable finish.

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