Chances are, you're not excited to go see a Sonic the Hedgehog film. You saw the original design of the character, the horrible games Sega tortures its players with, the endless parade of bad furry designs trotted out as new friends. The fact that Sonic the Hedgehog is a movie now should be just another sad marker of time for fans of those original Genesis games. Perhaps you want to go out of some sort of nostalgic obligation. Perhaps a younger sibling is dragging you along to the funny blue hedgehog show. Maybe you like Jim Carrey and this movie can't possibly be any worse than Mr. Popper's Penguins.
Thankfully, no matter your circumstances, I'm here to report that Sonic the Hedgehog is not the joke of a film that the Internet assumed it would be. Going in, I was ready to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. Coming out, I ended up emotionally moved by a musical choice in the closing moments. The fact is, the Sonic the Hedgehog movie comes from the same camp of love and respect as Sonic Mania. It perfectly captures what people initially loved about the character and delivers an interesting origin with franchise potential.
However, even though fans will likely find a lot to love about Sonic the Hedgehog, the fact remains that it is a movie primarily for children. The youth of America are the reason why Sonic has lasted this long, so it only makes sense. If you are a grown person who grew up with the Genesis like me, you'll have to be OK with sitting in a room and taking in several instances of the title character flossing. There is also a single fart joke which I'm sure someone thought was hilarious, but that someone isn't me. Outside of these few instances, the humor is surprisingly witty, and they even managed to keep a few fun lines hidden from the marketing department.
You'll also have to deal with the "Baby Sonic" portion of the film, which is thankfully a brief jaunt to a heretofore unmentioned other world occupied by sentient owls. Sonic is an alien hedgehog escaping from a dark force who was raised by a character named Longclaw. It's a confusing and off-putting way to kick off your film to be sure. None of it is explained particularly well, and none of it factors into the majority of the production. These genuinely bad moments are a very small portion of the overall runtime, but they stood out because of just how much they contrasted with the rest of the production.
For example, consider the brilliant casting of Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik. A lesser movie might have just called the character Eggman from the start, or brought in some of his more signature traits from the games. This Sonic the Hedgehog starts the character off in a cartooney but grounded state. He's a supergenius that loves machines over men, and Carrey plays the villain for everything he's worth. As the film progresses, the absurd situation of chasing an alien hedgehog catches up with the good doctor, and we see more and more of the madness creep in. It's a standout performance in a career full of them for Carrey.
That attention to detail, that honest effort to serve storytelling alongside fan service and franchise building, it shines through every frame of the movie. From the obvious nods (the small town Sonic finds himself in is called "Green Hill") to the subtle references (check out the names of drinks in the bar scene), you can feel the love for Sonic as a character. Maybe not modern-day Sonic with his werehog transformations and bounce pads, but Sonic at the height of his power—the cool mascot that took on Mario and had his own float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. That Sonic is the one I see on screen, and it's a joy that kids get to see that version of the character as well.
So, no matter your circumstances, if you can prepare yourself for a few "kiddie" moments, Sonic the Hedgehog is a fun time at the movies. No matter if you started playing the games on the Genesis or the Dreamcast, it's an authentic translation of the character that should spark interest in an entirely new generation. It's not going to blow you away, but it is certainly one of the better video-game adaptions to ever hit Hollywood. It just goes to show that the old adage is still true. Genesis does what Nintendon't.