The two Sonic the Hedgehog movies have proven that they’re perfect for two specific audiences: kids and people who are already fans of the character. I wasn’t particularly a fan of the first film — in fact, two years and an ongoing pandemic later, I barely remember what happened in it — and the second one isn’t much different. The film is fine… there’s nothing egregiously bad about it, and there are enough chuckles here and there. But at the same time, it doesn’t offer anything special or unique for a casual fan.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 picks up with Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) on the mushroom planet that Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) banished him to. Robotnik designs a contraption to get himself off the planet, but in doing so, he also summons Knuckles the Echidna (voiced by Idris Elba). The two of them each have vendettas against Sonic, so they team up to take him down.
Meanwhile, Tails (voiced by Colleen O’Shaughnessy, who’s voiced the character since 2014 in other media) comes to earth to warn Sonic that Knuckles is coming. Sonic has been living with the Wachowskis, fighting crime, but doing a poor job of it, so Tom (James Marsden) tries to remind Sonic of the fact that he’s just a kid with a lot of growing up to do. And that’s just the first of the many family friendly messages for kids that are brought up throughout the movie. Sonic learns about growing up, what it takes to be a hero, family, friendship, accepting that everyone is a bit weird, and redemption. None of these are bad things to explore; it’s just that this movie seems to know its audience is young kids, so it tries to fit everything a kid should learn throughout their childhood into 120 minutes.
At the same time, its way of keeping the adults engaged is to throw pop culture references at them at a rapid rate. Everything from Magic Mike, to Jean Ralphio from Parks and Recreation (Schwartz’ own character), to Limp Bizkit is referenced, and it makes Sonic feel more like a Ryan Reynolds character than anything else.
Like a lot of Reynolds movies, this one can get a bit tiring. Its two hour runtime is way longer than it has to be, especially when there’s a weird wedding subplot that doesn’t involve any of the main characters; it’s not even slightly interesting. There is plenty of fat on this movie that could have been trimmed to make it a brisk, enjoyable enough action movie for more than just kids and Sonic fans, but it’s unfortunately not, leading to a higher than average amount of watch checks.
If you’re a fan of Carrey, his scenes will likely be up your alley as well, especially given the news that he’s retiring from acting. His manic actions and highly energetic performance does breathe some semblance of life and personality into the film. It’s just a shame when he’s the only live action character who doesn’t seem like they’re phoning it in. His partner in crime doesn’t even get much to do, as the famed Sonic character comes off as a knockoff of Dave Bautista’s Drax from the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. There are only so many jokes that you can make about a character not understanding something very normal and common.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 isn’t going to win over any new fans of this franchise or character, but it’s not really trying to either. It definitely deserves credit for understanding its lane and staying in it. Unfortunately, for those of us uninterested in that lane, it’s not going to provide much of an incentive to stay checked in. There’s the occasional chuckle, sight gag, or slightly entertaining action scene, but not much beyond that.