‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ is Awfully Silly, And That’s Okay

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CREDIT: Paramount Pictures and Sega of America

Starring: Ben Schwartz, James Marsden, Jim Carrey, Tika Sumpter, Adam Pally, Lee Majdoub, Natasha Rothwell, Frank C. Turner, Neal McDonough

Director: Jeff Fowler

Running Time: 99 Minutes

Rating: PG for Hedgehog Mischief and Mad Scientist Arrogance

Release Date: February 14, 2020

Sonic the blue video game character and Sonic the drive-in fast food chain are very different, insofar as running around loop-de-loops really fast is advisable with only one of them. But they are also similar, insofar as they are both fine and enduring examples of lowbrow culture. So the release of the Sonic the Hedgehog movie raises the question: is this a good flick to watch while chowing down on some burgers and tots? I would have to definitively say yes, and thus I am awarding the Jeff Fowler-directed Sonic the Hedgehog the first (and perhaps also last) ever Sonic Feast Stamp of Approval.

Remember that hullabaloo about Sonic’s CGI teeth needing to be reanimated to something less uncanny valley-ish after the first trailer was released? It turns out that job was taken care of thoroughly and that snafu will henceforth only be a footnote in cinematic history! Thus, we are all able to fully focus on our spiny friend’s hairy adventures. Not that we need to focus too much to understand what’s going on, as the plot follows a standard formula for kid-friendly video game creature adaptations. Sonic, voiced mostly amusingly by comedian Ben Schwartz, gets magically transported to the world of humans where he strikes up an unlikely friendship with Tom (James Marsden), a small-town guy with big-town ambitions, and runs afoul of his nemesis, Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey), whose physical presence is more Earthbound than his typical video game iteration though his personality is full-on cartoonish.

Anyway, Sonic loses his bag of gold coins that he uses to transport between worlds, so he wrangles Tom in for a road trip to go find them, even though with his supersonic capabilities, he could probably do it himself in a matter of minutes. It doesn’t matter. It’s all just an excuse for Sonic to get up to shenanigans like causing a ruckus in a biker bar as Schwartz vamps, Carrey mustache-twirls, and the Olive Garden jams its way in there with some stealthy product placement. Also, Natasha Rothwell is on standby as Tom’s sister-in-law for some inexplicable running gag in which she keeps telling his wife to divorce him. It’s bright and colorful and silly, and frankly, I’m glad we live in a world in which doofy video game adaptations can still get made.

Sonic the Hedgehog is Recommended If You Like: The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, Batman Forever, The Smurfs

Grade: 2.75 out of 5 Loop-De-Loops

‘Like a Boss’ Goes Broad When It Could Have Gone Weird

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CREDIT: Paramount Pictures

Starring: Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne, Salma Hayek, Jennifer Coolidge, Billy Porter, Ari Graynor, Natasha Rothwell, Jessica St. Clair, Karan Soni, Jimmy O. Yang, Ryan Hansen

Director: Miguel Arteta

Running Time: 83 Minutes

Rating: R for Totally Open Sexual Discussions Between Close Friends

Release Date: January 10, 2020

In the spirit of being experimental with my movie reviews in 2020, I have decided to review Like a Boss as if someone going to see it thought it were somehow based on the SNL Digital Short of the same name. Now, this might be a little hard to conceive of, because even though there are indeed movies based on SNL sketches, there hasn’t been one in a while, and a two-minute one-off would be an odd candidate for expanding out to feature film length. But after overcoming this initial disappointment (or non-disappointing plain-old realization), this theoretical moviegoer can be comforted by the fact that this movie stars people like Tiffany Haddish and Salma Hayek, who have hosted SNL, and people like Rose Byrne and Billy Porter, who would surely be great SNL hosts if given the chance. On top of that, the movie starts off with a demented sketch comedy-esque sensibility, with bits involving accidentally getting high around an infant and a baby shower cake that features a head crowning out of a vagina and chocolate sprinkles as pubic hair.

Alas, after a rollicking opening ten minutes, Like a Boss settles into a standard issue broad studio comedy groove about Haddish and Byrne as a couple of lifelong friends and business partners struggling with massive debt. There are a few elements that suggest it could have been something a little more offbeat, in particular Hayek’s huge pearly white chompers. There is a bleached-to-perfection, but also slightly degenerate quality to her cosmetics mogul character that someone like John Waters would surely be proud of. It sounds like a solid fit for director Miguel Arteta (who previously directed Hayek to a fantastic performance in the simmeringly toxic Beatriz at Dinner), but the hijinks of the story pull him away from his knack for weirdos puncturing the niceties of the world around them. So in conclusion, if you’re in the mood for the Lonely Island Like a Boss, you’ll probably be even more likely to decry the fact that Business Lady Like a Boss doesn’t allow its comedic imagination to run completely wild.

Like a Boss is Recommended If You Like: Gags about spicy food, Drone-based physical comedy, Makeup tutorials

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Controlling Stakes