‘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

This Is a Movie Review: ‘Game Over Man’ Posits: What If ‘Die Hard,’ But with a Scene of Analingus?

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CREDIT: Cate Cameron/Netflix

This review was originally posted on News Cult in March 2018.

Starring: Blake Anderson, Adam DeVine, Anders Holm, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Neal McDonough, Jamie Demetriou, Aya Cash, Rhona Mitra, Sam Richardson, Daniel Stern

Director: Kyle Newacheck

Running Time: 98 Minutes

Rating: Not Rated, But It Would Be a Hard R for Nudity Leading to Violence, Leading to More Violence (Basically Both Naked and Clothed Bodies Are Mutilated and Exploded)

Release Date: March 23, 2018 (Streaming on Netflix)

Suppose you want to shamelessly rip off Die Hard. It’s a reasonable enough desire. Plenty of folks have done it already. It was practically its own sub-genre for a while there. The knockouts have tapered, but the original is still there for new generations to discover and grow up loving. Thus the Workaholics trio of Blake Anderson, Adam DeVine, and Anders Holm have delivered to the bowels of the Netflix original realm Game Over, Man! in which the height of action thriller cinema is crossed with video game excess. What results is less a narrative movie and more a bizarre wish fulfillment fantasy.

Instead of off-duty cop John McClane, Game Over, Man! gives us The Dew Crew, three hotel workers thus named because of their affinity for a certain soft drink (even though we almost never see them drinking any Mountain Dew). Fashioning themselves entrepreneurs, they attempt to get financing for their “Skintendo Joysuit” (basically a full-body video game controller) from a vulgar celebrity (Utkarsh Ambudkar) partying at the hotel, but that is all derailed, of course, by a team of big-time thieves.

The Dew Crew get the McClane role by virtue of happenstance keeping them away while all the hostages are rounded up. So of course we know they will end up saving the day, but it is a wonder that they do not end up killing themselves instead. DeVine, for one, can never get beyond the mindset that they are in a real-life video game, as he remains singularly focused on getting the kill that the other two have already achieved. Anderson and Holm manage to have a little more awareness of the severity of the situation, but their survival is still mostly attributable to coincidence.

Anderson, DeVine, and Holm have clearly been given free rein to be as graphic as possible, and they take full advantage o. Body parts are variously mutilated and exploded, while there is plenty of male nudity, including one detached member that plays a pivotal climactic role. The shock routine is clearly meant to draw the laughs out, but the trouble is, there is no zest, no finesse to the deployment. Extremity for extremity’s sake can serve the purpose of disrupting snobbish tastes, but when you have an already receptive audience (which the Netflix algorithm will work to ensure), the effect is just numbing.

Game Over, Man! is Recommended If You Like: Excessive Violence and Excessive Comic Nudity

Grade: 2 out of 5 Vapes