A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Sonic the Hedgehog is a kid-targeted action/adventure movie starring the iconic Sega video game character. The famous blue hedgehog is also an alien with special powers that put him in danger in his world. While he's being pursued, his mama bird is shot with an arrow (she seems OK). For Sonic's safety, she pushes him through a portal to Earth with a warning that he must hide and stay on the run. Sonic never feels abandoned, but he is lonely. And the movie's messages, such as they are, revolve around the importance of companionship. Language is mostly mild ("hell"); it's more jokes about "butts" and "farts" than any actual swearing. One scene may raise eyebrows: Sonic and human hero Tom (James Marsden) stop at a roadside bar/restaurant where they get into a brawl (mostly punches), and Tom is seen drinking a beer and driving soon afterward, without incident. In general, the movie's violence is cartoonishly explosive, like an unrealistic video game: It's mostly drones shooting fireballs, lasers, and bullets. There are some moments of peril, but the audience is never in doubt that everyone will be OK -- even hysterically evil villain Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey).
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What's the story?
In SONIC THE HEDGEHOG, iconic Sega video game character Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) is on the run in rural Montana from Dr. Ivo Robotnik (Jim Carrey -- how you've been missed!). Robotnik wants to steal Sonic's supersonic speed powers to take over the world. With the help of local cop Tom "Donut Lord" Wachowski (James Marsden, who interacts with a CGI figure with ease and charm), Sonic takes off to evade his captor. Naturally, he gets into plenty of mischief along the way.
Is it any good?
Watching Carrey is an absolute delight; his comedic genius exudes more wattage than Sonic's moments of heated emotion -- and Sonic's outbursts cause power outages. Why did it take Hollywood so long to make Carrey a handlebar-mustachioed villain? His Dr. Robotnik is reminiscent of the over-the-top silly characters he famously created in movies like The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Carrey's performance helps take Sonic the Hedgehog to levels of laughing you never expected. The best moment of all is when Robotnik does his Dance of Anarchy. Please, sir, may I have some more?
But as great as Carrey is, this is the story of Sonic, an animated alien hedgehog who's sent to Earth alone for his own safety. He's warned that if anyone sees him, they'll try to capture him for his special powers. So he settles in Green Hills, Montana, and watches those in the small town from the shadows with a wistfulness. Really, Sonic is like a little kid: He loves fart jokes, he can't keep quiet, he's (literally) bouncing off the walls, and he just wants a friend. It's a theme every kid can appreciate. Even if they don't relate to being alone, they can relate to being bored. As Tom, Marsden is a perfect companion to Sonic, popping off "dad jokes" and expressing his love for Olive Garden (the latter screams "product placement," but at least it's funny). The duo's evolving dynamic -- buddies, but really best friends, but really guardian and child, but really father and son -- make Sonic the Hedgehog a laugh-until-you-turn-blue fun film for the family to enjoy together.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about loneliness. Have you ever felt left out? Has anyone ever told you that you made them feel left out? Why is inclusion so important?
Dr. Robotnik says he was bullied as a child. Do you think he's now a bully? What should you do if you're being bullied or see someone else being bullied?
Did you recognize product placement in the movie? If so, did you find yourself thinking about that item or brand? What's the impact of advertising on kids?
- In theaters: February 14, 2020
- On DVD or streaming: May 19, 2020
- Cast: Jim Carrey, James Marsden, Adam Pally, Ben Schwartz
- Director: Jeff Fowler
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Space and Aliens
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: action, some violence, rude humor and brief mild language.
- Last updated: June 30, 2020
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