Game Over

Sonic the Hedgehog is pretty awful, but Jim Carrey almost saves the day. Almost.

When Sonic the Hedgehog comes out of the gate, it has the makings of what could wind up being an early frontrunner for year's worst. It's irritating, it's unoriginal, and it features multiple jokes about cops eating donuts, as if we haven't heard those before.

Then, Jim Carrey shows up as the villain, and almost saves the whole damn thing. Almost.

Sonic, the videogame character so beloved that his fanbase rallied to have his likeness course-corrected after an abysmal look in the original trailer, is voiced by Ben Schwartz. While this incarnation definitely looks better than that first mess Paramount Pictures tried to get past the masses, he's still a grating presence. Sorry Mr. Schwartz, but your voice is nails on a chalkboard.

A brief prelude shows Sonic being sent to Earth by a heroic owl, left alone in his cave with a bag of gold rings that provides gateways to other worlds. After an encounter with small-town policeman Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), Sonic's gold rings are accidentally transported to San Francisco. He must join with Tom, who he calls the Donut Lord because, as I stated before, this movie's script is screamingly unoriginal, and they go on a road trip.

In pursuit of the pair would be Dr. Robotnik, played by a totally game Jim Carrey, who hasn't been this manically fun in years. Whatever stupid crap the movie has him doing doesn't really matter. What matters is director Jeff Fowler gives the comedian permission to go off, and Carrey not only riffs away, but gets behind the character with his trademark physical acting. He gets legitimate laughs that are surprisingly offbeat considering his kiddie movie surroundings (I especially liked his musings regarding Charlotte's Web).

Alas, Carrey's role is a supporting one, and he doesn't get nearly enough screen time to save this from being a relatively rote affair.

We are mostly left with Marsden trading one liners with Sonic, and, of course, the requisite fart jokes. If you were to guess where Tom and Sonic wind up on the road to San Francisco as a detour for strained laughs, I'm guessing a biker bar would be high on your probability list. And in that biker bar, you'd probably guess that there would be jokes involving mechanical bulls, line dancing, buffalo wings and bar fights. And you would've guessed right.

There are a couple of scenes in the flick where Sonic pulls a Quicksilver, the character in X-Men who was so fast that he could rearrange people in a fight in between blows. I have to think there's an X-Men screenwriter somewhere who will be mighty pissed with some of the sequences in this movie.

Thankfully, Sonic does actually look like his videogame self now, and not some horrid concoction featuring small eyes and human teeth. This film's script, plus the way Sonic looked in that original trailer, would've ensured box office death. As things stand, the movie looks decent, which makes the dopey screenplay semi-tolerable.

So, perhaps some good things will come out of this. Perhaps the movie will give the talented Carrey the jumpstart his movie career needs after the ill-advised Dumb and Dumberer To and the miserable dramatic turn Dark Crimes, which nobody on the planet saw. Time to greenlight another Ace Ventura or a sequel to The Mask. Why the hell not? That'd be a better use of his talent than having him chasing lame-assed Sonic around.

The coda leaves things open ended for a sequel, a sequel that will probably happen. With the distraction of an initially horrendous looking Sonic out of the way, maybe a unified look from the start could lead to a stronger picture. I'm sensing a sequel to this movie will result in something better. There's plenty of room for improvement.