In June of 1991, “Sonic The Hedgehog” was released for the Sega Genesis, and Jim Carrey was finding his footing on the now seemingly forgotten sketch comedy show, “In Living Color.” Carrey, the twenty-nine-year-old, Canadian-born actor, had found moderate success in the years prior, with supporting roles for films such as Francis Ford Coppola’s “Peggy Sue got Married,” “Earth Girls are Easy,” and the last film of the Dirty Harry franchise, “The Dead Pool.” However, he was seemingly destined for comedy stardom, ever since his stand-up debut at the age of fifteen.
In October of 1994, the game “Sonic & Knuckles” was released, to much praise. Sonic, at this point, was finding his way into the cultural zeitgeist, and so was Carrey. He already had two certified classic starring roles to his name, “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” and “The Mask,” with another, “Dumb and Dumber,” well on its way. Both Sonic and Carrey would remain in the big names in American culture until they weren’t. They weren’t completely forgotten, but the talk around them had begun to gently die down. People had moved on to new games and new celebrities.
Twenty-eight years since the franchise’s first installment, these two seemingly unrelated pop culture juggernauts came to an unexpected crossroads, as Carrey now stars in the “Blue Blur’s” first feature film outing, “Sonic The Hedgehog.”
The film follows its titular character, who has arrived from his own world to Earth, on the run with a small-town police officer from the eccentric Dr. Robotnik, played by Carrey.
The film itself is fine. It’s the second of what I’m sure is to be a weird trilogy of family films that star James Marsden, as he learns a generic lesson, with the help of a CGI creature voiced by a B-list comedian, with the first being 2011’s “Hop.” There is a genuine love for the character buried somewhere beneath its obvious attempts to pander to the younger generation and its obvious desperation to milk as much money out of the film as possible (There is not one, not two, but three instances in which characters discuss their love for Olive Garden), however, it really isn’t anything I haven’t seen before. As it turns out, it’s actually not as possible to cyberbully a studio into making a good movie as one might think. The one standout, however, is Jim Carrey’s electric performance as Dr. Robotnik. He brings his trademark energy to each and every single scene, and it’s truly marvelous to watch.
I, as well as an incredibly large amount of “fellow youngsters,” grew up playing Sonic, and more so watching Jim Carrey’s movies. Seeing both the Hedgehog and Carrey cracking jokes at one another brought me back to my days of going to my friend’s house to play the new Sonic game, and watching “Ace Ventura” late into the night, though my mother was sure that it would rot my brain cells away. The whole time I sat and watched the film, I thought to myself, “Where did they go?”
It was then when I realized that this sudden, and almost surreal crossroads was not as sudden as it seemed.
In December of 2003, the game “Sonic Heroes” was released to mixed reviews, but commercial success. A few years later, however, came the release of 2006’s “Sonic The Hedgehog,” more commonly known as “Sonic ‘06,” a game that was infamously critically panned, and was a commercial disaster. This seemed to be the nail in the coffin for the franchise.
A few years later in 2009, Robert Zemeckis’ “A Christmas Carol,” starring Jim Carrey, was released to mixed reviews, with many criticizing its animation which lay heavily within the uncanny valley. A few years later, he starred in “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” which was both a critical and commercial failure.
Both Sonic and Carrey were beginning to leave the conversation.
Then, this movie happens. Whether the filmmakers and the studio realized it or not (my money’s on most definitely not), they had done something truly beautiful. The Sonic franchise and Jim Carrey had come together at this perfect little spot in time when they both needed each other to launch one another back into the public conversation. However, this wasn’t the reason it worked so well. Any two things could meet to no avail. The reason it worked so well, is the very reason Carrey officially signed up for the role.
In their own ways, both Jim Carrey and the Sonic franchise feel a need to spread fun, joy, and laughter. While the franchise’s need is slightly more monetarily based, Carrey’s is much more personal. This is a person who, as a kid, kept tap shoes under his bed, so he could cheer up his parents if need be. The only reason he accepted the role was that he loves to play Sonic with his grandson
There’s some indescribable charm that comes as a result of this seemingly cosmic match. The film is incredibly formulaic and quite possibly as cash-grabby as a movie could possibly get, but there still lies that underlying genuine intent to amuse. As a result, the movie actually becomes fairly enjoyable in some parts, and in other parts, nostalgic for the era in which Sonic The Hedgehog and Jim Carrey remained at the forefront of pop-culture.