Friday, July 24, 2020


A 38 year old childless man (like myself) has no business having any kind of strong/strong-ish opinions on Sonic The Hedgehog. Sure anyone can have an opinion on any movie but when a family-less adult has an overly emotional response to child/family-friendly movie, it is a little weird to me. But that's just me. 
Sonic The Hedgehog is a family movie (which is often code for being a kids movie that parents can "tolerate"/sit through). But people my age (with or without families) have a history with sonic just as much as the kids of today. We had sonic first long for before today’s youth (I was a Nintendo kid but my next door neighbor/friend had sega so I have my fair share of memories with sonic & chaos emeralds and whatnot). I think some adults have a legitimate case to voice their opinion. Sonic is the kind of character, video game, movie, etc that can bridge generations. Chances are the kids who watch the Sonic movie have parents who played the video game and watched the cartoon when they were young.

Sonic The Hedgehog isn’t that bad for what it is. I’m seeing it catch a lot of flack on my “film twitter” timeline but you can’t compare Sonic to something like Barry Lyndon or The Long Goodbye which is what I think some folks are doing (and I don't even think a lot of them are aware of it but that’s a separate conversation for another time).

Unless you were living under a rock then you know the sonic movie was doomed from the start. The original teaser trailer and initial design of the sonic character was somewhat nightmare-inducing. It brought on comparisons to things like Von Trier’s Antichrist rather things like Toy Story, Wall-E or other family-oriented movies of that ilk (Sonic is nowhere near a Wall-E or a Toy Story but it does deserve to be mentioned along with them)...

Antichrist / Sonic The Hedgehog

Even after the sonic character went through an exhaustive CGI redesign brought on by a social media pushback (...bullying), folks still weren’t really having it. It became a punching bag for memes (I will say that this was one of the few times I agreed with the mass social media pushback/criticism of something as the original sonic design was a bit weird-looking).
After the new rollout there were pockets of campaigns from people trying to guilt folks in to seeing the sonic movie following the hard work from the CGI team who were eventually fired after the redesign. While I’m sorry when anyone loses their job, I’m not going to be pressured in to seeing something (especially when the original design was bad from the beginning). Do it right the first time (and that isn't a criticism of the designers. I'm sure the original sonic concept was green-lit by the higher-ups). I think a lot of people reacted similarly and folded their arms at the pressure of being force-fed a sonic movie that took forever to come out because of post-production issues (there were also pre-production issues going back over a year ago that also added to the negative stigma attached to the film).

Even though Sonic The Hedgehog made a nice chunk of money overall, the general consensus ranged from “Meh” to not that great (there were some overly positive reviews here & there). But in my opinion this was a fun road movie that also “tackled” things like representation without doing it in a pretentious/overly force-fed kind of way.

In the film Sonic has to make it from a small town in Montana all the way to San Francisco (with the help of good-guy sheriff James Marsden) in order to open a portal to get him back to his universe where he’ll be safe. The only problem is the evil Dr Robotnik (played perfectly by Jim Carrey) is on their heels trying to stop them. It’s the same premise as everything from E.T. to Mac & Me (the evil scientists/nameless government entity is trying to capture the friendly Alien before he/she can get back to their planet. So while the plot isn't all that original (how many plots are?), it’s a revisit of a classic science-fiction/adventure trope that hasn’t been done very well in a while with the exception of maybe Midnight Special which hasn’t really stood the rest of time (it’s certainly a solid movie but no one is really talking about it anymore which is a shame because, like Sonic, it’s a family-friendly sci-fi adventure that’s better than it’s given credit for).

Sonic has just enough Jim Carrey before things get obnoxious (he’s used sparingly throughout the movie) and it shares a lot of the same imagery & scenarios as other fun action-adventure movies that folks have enjoyed in recent years...

The Matrix / Sonic 

X-Men /

And going back to the representation I spoke about earlier - I like to think my two Afro-Latin goddaughters (and their parents) are the prefect audience for this movie. The racial make-up of the cast of Sonic is multi-racial much like Spider-verse. Organic, non-forced/non-pretentious representation is important in movies (and all art for that matter). My goddaughters (age: 6 & 4) look like half of the important characters in this movie and that does matter. Especially for young people. It’s nice to see a non-segregated major motion picture with characters that look like you in a world where you’re still told that you look “different”. Even on a subconscious level.

On the other end of the age spectrum, my podcast partner Scott also thought the sonic movie was surprisingly good. If both children and adults with different backgrounds & perspectives find enjoyment in a harmless popcorn movie that counts for something in my book.

So while this isn’t a masterpiece (or even “GREAT”) it’s still a fun family movie that deserved better. If you haven’t seen it due to all the pre & post-production issues or you’re avoiding it due to bad word of mouth reviews, I’d give it a shot. Don’t expect too much but at the same time, it’s a pretty fun movie.
Throughout the months of April & May I saw an influx of tweets, reviews & thoughts on the films of Michael Haneke. He’s one of my all time favorite filmmakers (easily in my top 10) so I love any attention he gets.
My problem with this newfound fascination & exploration of Haneke is that it took (takes?) place during a very depressing period for a lot of us. In a time when we have covid, ridiculously high unemployment numbers (due to Covid), police brutality (“highlighted” for me with the murder of Elijah McLain), etc - why would you want to watch something like The Seventh Continent, Time Of The Wolf or the The Piano Teacher? It is my belief that Michael Haneke is a masterful filmmaker but you do have to be in a mood to watch his films. 2020 has been a shitty year. It’s a wash. The bad has absolutely outweighed the negative. Why would you want to watch depressing, cold & grim movies in a time like this?
And outside of Haneke, some of the most popular/praised/“critically acclaimed” films of this year are mostly downers. Sorry We Missed You, First Cow, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Da 5 Bloods, Tommaso, etc.
Most of these movies I just listed are great but they’re absolute downers. I don’t know about you guys but after 4-5 sad, serious, depressing movies in a row - I need a fun, mindless, palette cleanser. That’s what Sonic The Hedgehog is to me. Allow Sonic to cleanse your palette of all the depressing shit going on even if it's for 100 minutes or so.


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