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Sonic the Hedgehog First Reviews: Jim Carrey Steals the Show in a Solid Family Adventure

Early reviews say the SEGA video game adaptation is a pleasantly surprising children's film with enough to entertain the adults and a Jim Carrey performance worthy of his '90s heyday.

by | February 13, 2020 | Comments

Sonic the Hedgehog had a lot of hurdles to overcome, from the fan backlash to its character design (and the subsequent production delay in response) to the general low expectations that come with video game movies. Fortunately, based on the relatively positive reception of the Sega adaptation, many fans and families will find this to be a pleasant surprise. Mostly harmless fun with a scene-stealing throwback performance from Jim Carrey, Sonic is nothing revolutionary but is hardly a prickly affair either.

Here’s what critics are saying about Sonic the Hedgehog:


Is it better than expected?

I admit I had my reserves about Sonic the Hedgehog, but it completely blew my mind.
– Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

Raise your expectations. Sonic the Hedgehog is the first cinema surprise of the year.
– Julian Roman, MovieWeb

A movie miracle or at the very least an unexpected surprise, this adaptation… largely presses all the right buttons — and even does so in the right order.
– Oliver Jones, Observer


Are the updated visuals worth the wait?

The effects, while maintaining fidelity to the popular video game, turned out stellar.
Yolanda Machado, The Wrap

You know what, it works. It’s a really effective rendering of the classic character many of us grew up playing.
Wenlei Ma, News.com.au

Not only did the animators go above and beyond in fixing Sonic to look more like his video game origins, but they might’ve saved the movie.
Dami Lee, The Verge

The filmmakers were able to get what amounts to a stuffed toy to emote more successfully than, say, the filmmakers behind last summer’s The Lion King.
Oliver Jones, Observer

In the finished film this new, cartoony Sonic might be more aesthetically pleasing, but he’s a bizarre outlier in an otherwise photorealistic world.
Huw Fullerton, Radio Times


Paramount Pictures

(Photo by Paramount Pictures)

How does it rate as a video game movie?

Sonic the Hedgehog succeeds where so many other video game adaptations fail because it captures the spirit of the games and the character.
Spencer Perry, ComicBook.com

Sonic the Hedgehog is a fairly middling family-friendly adventure movie, but a comparably good video game adaptation.
A.A. Dowd, AV Club

You might have to go all the way back to 1993’s Super Mario Bros. to find such a striking disconnect between the experience of playing something at home and watching it in a theater.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire

It’s not quite Detective Pikachu, but it’s fun enough.
Huw Fullerton, Radio Times


How is Jim Carrey?

Sonic offers Jim Carrey in a performance almost as full-tilt as those of his mid-’90s heyday. .
John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

Carrey’s physicality and comedic timing evoke memories of his Ace Ventura and Liar Liar heyday, proving the gifted comedian hasn’t lost his touch.
Akeem Lawanson, IGN

This is peak Carrey, a delightfully unhinged, physical performance reminiscent of his work in Ace Ventura or The Mask.
Wenlei Ma, News.com.au

Carrey is the film’s most prized weapon…his vitality makes an otherwise routine endeavor worthwhile. The movie is fine, but the villain’s a delight.
Bilge Ebiri, Vulture

He’s far more animated than Sonic. And far too good for this.
Steve Rose, Guardian


Paramount Pictures

(Photo by Paramount Pictures)

And James Marsden?

Marsden manages to mine the heartwarming moments with Sonic even if it’s ultimately not a standout turn in his career.
Akeem Lawanson, IGN

To Marsden’s credit, there’s a natural camaraderie… which is impressive given that the critter was likely represented on set by a tennis ball on a stick.
Jake Cole, Slant


Is the movie funny?

I found myself laughing out loud several times, and yes, I even shed a few tears.
Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

One of the strengths of the film is that it’s always throwing new gags and jokes at the audience, so even if one doesn’t work, there’s another right around the corner that arrives as quickly as Sonic himself.
Spencer Perry, ComicBook.com

Gets away with [one fart joke], otherwise bypassing the all-too-common cheap laughs for a story that’s loaded with smart humor [and] snappy dialogue.
Kristen Page-Kirby, Washington Post

The jokes are almost all uniformly awful, following a formula of some zany thing happening and a character merely describing aloud what just happened in an incredulous voice.
Jake Cole, Slant


Paramount Pictures

(Photo by Paramount Pictures)

How is the script?

The script itself is very light-hearted, even with undercurrents about being an outsider and the loneliness that comes with it.
Yolanda Machado, The Wrap

Even when grappling with potentially heavy themes like government-sponsored drone warfare and situational depression, Sonic the Hedgehog never loses its buoyant sense of storytelling.
Oliver Jones, Observer

Sonic the Hedgehog has a terrific script. Screenwriters Patrick Casey and Josh Miller infuse a lot of creativity into the Japanese source material.
Julian Roman, MovieWeb

Sonic the Hedgehog is frustratingly old-school in its condescension, as the filmmakers constantly hold the audience’s hand.
Jake Cole, Slant

Writers Patrick Casey and Josh Miller spend too much time trying to modernize Sonic… but they sacrifice so much of his character in the process.
Rendy Jones, Rendy Reviews


Is it strictly for fans of the game?

First and foremost for Sonic fans. If you’ve been there for the little blue fella these past 29 years… then Sonic the Hedgehog is the love letter you’re probably looking for. If you’ve never really cared for the Blue Blur, you’ll probably want to avoid this flick like one of Dr. Robotnik’s badniks.
Akeem Lawanson, IGN

If you spent your afternoons collecting rings and battling Dr. Robotnik as a kid like I did, you will LOVE this movie.
Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

Fans of the video games will find a host of allusions, but there’s plenty to please any moviegoer who can’t tell a Sega from a Switch.
Kristen Page-Kirby, Washington Post


Paramount Pictures

(Photo by Paramount Pictures)

Is it really family-friendly?

Make no mistake, Sonic The Hedgehog is a kids’ movie, but there’s enough here for their parents so that it’s not a total slog.
Wenlei Ma, News.com.au

Sonic is a children’s movie that recognizes it may be kids’ first introduction to the hedgehog, so it makes minimal references to the video game world he comes from.
Dami Lee, The Verge

Sonic the Hedgehog is what a family movie should be – entertaining, delightful, a good story, fun for all ages, and packed with life lessons.
Tania Lamb, Lola Lambchops

Few but diehard fans and young children will be charmed by this predictable, derivative caper.
Steve Rose, Guardian


Any major complaints?

It’s not a great sign of creative storytelling when a kids film plugs Amazon, Zillow, and Olive Garden in the span of a single scene, without a trace of irony.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire

I can put up with product placement that is tastefully done but if we pay $15 for a ticket to a movie we don’t expect to constantly see advertisements especially in movies for children.
Rachel Wagner, Rachel’s Reviews

Sonic could’ve used more of the attitude that made him Sega’s antithesis to Nintendo’s Mario during the video game console wars.
Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics

To add insult to injury, they added a sassy Black woman stereotype. Why…is this present in 2020 and in a Sonic movie?
Rendy Jones, Rendy Reviews


Will audiences want more?

It has me beyond hyped for a sequel.
Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

Hopefully Sonic the Hedgehog will get the chance to explore its world and take more risks in a followup.
Molly Freeman, ScreenRant


Sonic the Hedgehog is in theaters on February 14.

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Adjusted Score: 73.871%
Critics Consensus: Fittingly fleet and frequently fun, Sonic the Hedgehog is a video game-inspired adventure the whole family can enjoy -- and a fine excuse for Jim Carrey to tap into the manic energy that launched his career.
Synopsis: SONIC THE HEDGEHOG is a live-action adventure comedy based on the global blockbuster video game franchise from Sega that centers... [More]
Directed By: Jeff Fowler

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