2020’s Sonic the Hedgehog fully embraced 90s nostalgia, not only by being the first film to star Sega’s iconic video game character, but by bringing Jim Carrey back to his goofy, over-the-top personality from films like The Mask and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. With Sonic the Hedgehog, kids get to see Sonic run around with his manic energy, but for adults, Sonic the Hedgehog is a blast of remembrance for the 90s, with one of their favorite video game characters and comedic actors coming together for a family-friendly movie. It’s no surprise then that Sonic the Hedgehog has consistently been one of the most-watched films on Hulu in the United States.
Sonic the Hedgehog is a combination of live-action and animation, and director Jeff Fowler does an excellent job of blending the video game world we know with the real world. Sonic the Hedgehog begins with Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) trying to outrun a tribe of echidnas on a foreign planet. Sonic is given a bag of rings that will open portals to other planets. To escape his pursuers, Sonic uses one of the rings and goes to Earth, where he lives in Green Hills, Montana.
While playing baseball with himself, Sonic runs at supersonic speed, which causes a large power outage. The United States Department of Defense sends Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey), to try and figure out what caused this outage. Sonic hides in the shed of Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), a local sheriff who Sonic calls the “Donut Lord.” Tom agrees to help Sonic stay out of the clutches of Dr. Robotnik, and the two go on the run as fugitives while Sonic tries to find his bag of rings so he can run away to another planet.
Sonic the Hedgehog was originally marred by controversy, as the film’s first trailer, which featured an unusual-looking Sonic with human teeth, left many unhappy with the character’s design. The film was delayed for several months to fix the character, and was released on February 14, 2020. Despite the previous controversy, the film did extremely well, making $319 million worldwide, and becoming the second highest-grossing 2020 film in the United States, coming behind Bad Boys for Life. The film is also the sixth highest-grossing film for Jim Carrey, a pretty impressive feat considering theaters were closed soon after Sonic the Hedgehog’s release.
Sonic the Hedgehog also did surprisingly well critically, receiving a 63% on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer, and a 93% audience score. Many critics praised this return to form for Jim Carrey. Amy Nicholson for FilmWeek said, “I was just thrilled to be reminded of everything Jim Carrey can do when he lets himself riff.” However, for some, Carrey was the film’s only bright spot, as Empire Magazine’s Amon Warmann said, “An on-form Jim Carrey can’t stop Sonic’s live-action debut from feeling like a missed opportunity.”
Prior to Sonic the Hedgehog, it has been quite some time since we had seen Jim Carrey embrace his weirdness. The last time Carrey had done his brand of absurd humor was 2014’s Dumb and Dumber To, with other recent films like 2013’s The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and 2011’s Mr. Popper’s Penguins not quite latching onto the insanity of Carrey that made him such a great comedic actor. But Sonic the Hedgehog, and this wild take on Dr. Robotnik gave the audience the Carrey that had long laid dormant.
In the years before Sonic the Hedgehog, Jim Carrey had taken to exploring darker roles. He would play Colonel Stars and Stripes in 2013’s Kick-Ass 2, and would embrace creepy roles in 2016’s The Bad Batch and Dark Crimes. Even his Showtimes series Kidding focused on the darkness within a comedic actor, and Carrey’s experimentation with painting in recent years has also shown that Carrey contains multitudes.
But in many ways, Sonic the Hedgehog was a sort of a return to the public spotlight for Jim Carrey as a performer that many love to see. Following Sonic the Hedgehog, Carrey published his first novel, Memoirs and Misinformation, and joined Saturday Night Live to play then-presidential-nominee, Joe Biden.
It seems as though this crazy version of Jim Carrey that we all originally fell in love with is not going anywhere, as it is expected Carrey will reprise the role of Dr. Robotnik in the sequel, scheduled for April 8, 2022. If the end of Sonic the Hedgehog gave us any hint about what is to come, it looks like Carrey’s Robotnik will be even more like the character in the game, which means even more Carrey insanity. But until that sequel comes out next year, there’s plenty of time to see the return of wild Jim Carrey in Sonic the Hedgehog, currently streaming on Hulu.