Directed by: Jeff Fowler
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Written by Patrick Hao
The first “Sonic the Hedgehog” came out during the halcyon days of February 2020. That film proved to be a modest surprise in the way it embraced being a 90’s family comedy road trip – between two mismatched buddies as hijinks ensues. Plus, it allowed Jim Carrey to embrace being Jim Carrey for the first time in a long while. If “Sonic the Hedgehog” is like a standard 90’s family comedy, “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” is the classic sequel. Everything is amped up. You like Sonic, here are two other beloved characters from the original Sega game Tails and Knuckles. You like the jokes from the first movie, here are the reiterations of those exact jokes. The only thing that felt modern about the “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” are the pointed attempts to set up spin-offs and sequels.
The adventure comedy is overplotted for what should be a simple story. The previously exiled Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) makes his way back to Earth with a new companion Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba), a space echidna who, as his name suggests, punches things. They form an alliance of convenience to find an all-powerful emerald. Meanwhile, Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz), who is presented as a surrogate child to the human couple Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie (Tika Sumpter), is feeling lonely. Only child syndrome, one might say. Soon, as the bad guys begin terrorizing Sonic and the planet, another creature, a two-tailed flying fox named Tails (voiced by Colleen O’Shaughnessy), of course, appears to aid Sonic and become a friend and sibling figure to him. There are other subplots and amusing side tangents involving Maddie’s sister Rachel (Natasha Rothwell) and comic relief characters Stone (Lee Majdoub) and Wade (Adam Pally).
At the core, you can see what the screenwriters wanted to do with a sequel when breaking the story. The first film is about finding a surrogate family. The second is about expanding that family. Then there are some themes about overcoming deep-seated prejudice and embracing friendship over hate that is admirable but shallow. However, “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” reeks of rewrites, punch ups, and a general sense of “too many cooks in the kitchen.” This is supposed to appeal to all ages, so there are risqué innuendos from Robotnik, dance-offs to Run DMC, and hyper-stimulating sequences. It ends up being a mishmash of populist filmmaking that is for no one.
That is not to say that the film is not a little bit charming. Schwartz brings an exuberance to his voice role, and all the human side characters shine as brightly as they can. But there are just too many pieces for “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” to become a satisfying whole, at least for anyone past preteen age. Preteens are going to love this.
“Sonic the Hedgehog 2” Trailer
“Sonic the Hedgehog 2” is in wide theatrical release.