That blue blur streaking across hill and dale, field and stream? Why, it’s Sonic the Hedgehog. Blue legs churning, sneakered feet pattering on pavement at a mile-a-nanosecond velocity, the azure-hued critter has departed his bestselling video-game habitat and made the jump to the big screen in a comedy with a Saturday-morning-cartoon vibe.
That’s for the villain of the piece, a mad meanie played to unhinged excess by Jim Carrey in a regression to Ace Ventura aggressiveness. His upper lip is home to a mustache whose upturned waxed ends are so very Snidely Whiplash that you can practically hear every greasy hair snarking … “NYOHOHOH!”
The screenplay by Pat Casey and Josh Miller presents Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) as a creature from outer space who lands on Earth via golden teleporting rings. Step through them and voilà! Hello, Terra.
On Earth, Sonic is alone and adrift with only his favorite “Flash” comic books and “Speed” video (hello, Keanu!) to keep him company. Playing all nine positions in a baseball game simultaneously (zipzipzipzipzipzipzipzipzip) palls after a while, so he goes looking for a friend. He finds a likely candidate in the small-town Montana sheriff cop played by James Marsden, who’s a kindly fellow who feels underutilized serving as a crossing guard for a family of ducks.
(We’re talking about a very small town, here.)
Disabling Sonic with a tranquilizer dart allows the cop to slow the creature down enough to allow the two to get acquainted. They bond. Then they flee. Because a sudden spasm of Sonic super-speed has caused an energy pulse that kills the electrical grid in Green Hills, Montana. That attracts the attention of mad scientist Dr. Robotnik (Carrey), who wants to capture the creature to find out what makes him tick — by dissection, if necessary.
And so the chase is on, with stops at a biker bar (insert bar fight) and San Francisco (insert chase through city streets here) while Carrey’s doctor sics flocks of high-tech killer drones after the fleeing twosome.
Carrey overacts so strenuously that you fear he’ll rupture something as he plays the raving egomaniac. Schwartz gives the CGI Sonic character a chipper personality, while Marsden just seems to be along for the ride.
So “Sonic the Hedgehog” is bright. It’s cheery. It’s here and then it’s gone in a relatively compact 100 minutes, leaving little beyond a slightly sweet aftertaste to mark its passage.
★★½ “Sonic the Hedgehog,” with James Marsden, Jim Carrey, Tika Sumpter and the voice of Ben Schwartz. Directed by Jeff Fowler from a screenplay by Pat Casey and Josh Miller. 100 minutes. Rated PG for action, some violence, rude humor and brief mild language. Opens Feb. 13 in multiple theaters.