Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

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Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

After discovering a small, blue, fast hedgehog, a small-town police officer must help him defeat an evil genius who wants to do experiments on him.

Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) Trailer


Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) Reviews

“Sonic the Hedgehog” is the worst kind of bad movie: it’s too inoffensive to be hated and too wretched to be enjoyable. You might think that this movie’s sad limbo state has something to do with the extensive and well-publicized last-minute animation redesign that made titular woodland creature Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) look more like Sega’s famous video game character.You’d be wrong: “Sonic the Hedgehog” is rotten because it, like too many other modern blockbusters, was seemingly made by an imaginatively bankrupt creative committee with more ideas for jokes than actual jokes to tell, and more cookie-cutter, place-holder dialogue about the power of friendship than something (anything) to say about that boilerplate quality.
“Sonic the Hedgehog” is a bad action-adventure, video game adaptation, and buddy comedy. It feels almost completely impersonal, save for whenever James Marsden, playing Sonic’s human companion, tries to rescue the movie by being confident and graceful in the face of an otherwise dire send-the-magical-critter-back-home kiddy fantasy.I hope that everybody involved in the making of this movie got paid well and on time. Nobody else has an excuse to see “Sonic the Hedgehog,” especially now that easily defeated parents can park their kids in front of a computer or TV and let them watch some “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” gameplay videos on YouTube. Trust me: your kids’ happiness does not depend on them seeing this movie.Still, if you must take your kids to see “Sonic the Hedgehog,” there are a few things you might want to know. For starters, this is a painfully bland “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” clone. Sonic, a magical critter who can run fast, teams up with nice guy/small-town cop Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) to regain the whatsit—in this case, a pouch of gold rings that open portals to any destination Sonic can think of—that will help him to escape goony mad scientist Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey), who wants to dissect Sonic.

So Tom and Sonic go on a cross-country road trip from fictional Green Hills to San Francisco, because that happens to be the city on Tom’s shirt when he, in a panic, shoots Sonic with a bear tranquilizer, and then Sonic, now stunned on powerful wildlife drugs, accidentally throw his rings onto a Golden City rooftop. San Francisco also happens to be the city where Tom wants to move to, given his completely original dream of finding recognition and excitement beyond his quaint hometown.

But really, the set-up for “Sonic the Hedgehog” hinges on a bear tranq and some bad timing. The rest of the movie’s non-existent sense of urgency is provided by Dr. Robotnik, a hammy antagonist who likes to yell about how much smarter and more powerful he is compared to everyone else.

Dr. Robotnik controls expensive-looking robot drones and has a flimsy waxed mustache that looks like one of those party favors you see every third wedding guest wearing in your Facebook friends’ wedding reception photos. Dr. Robotnik is not very interesting, but he’s in the “Sonic” video games, so he’s in this movie, too.

Also, there are some dull stranger-in-a-strange-land shenanigans involving Sonic’s bucket list, whose bullet points include “tame a wild animal,” “start a bar fight,” and “make a best friend.” Your kid could probably write a better scenario, given a little focus and the right motivation, two qualities that the makers of “Sonic the Hedgehog” seem to lack.I don’t mean to be unnecessarily harsh, but based on the movie I saw, “Sonic the Hedgehog” doesn’t need to exist. Marsden does a lot of heavy lifting just by reacting to a computer-generated character whose only distinguishing feature is his resemblance to a beloved video game character that was never really interesting unto himself.But Marsden can’t save this movie from a deluge of uninspired chase scenes, dumb plot twists, and disposable pop culture references (wow, he’s doing the floss dance again, terrific). “Sonic the Hedgehog” is only as successful as the amount of time you want to spend watching its animated protagonist go on instantly forgettable adventures, and boy, is that unfortunate.

If you really want to know why you should skip “Sonic the Hedgehog,” try to watch the movie’s trailer, and see how much of Jim Carrey’s aggressively joyless performance you can take. Like Marsden, Carrey does a lot of acting, but unlike his co-star, Carrey is never as entertaining as he is energetic.

Watching Carrey in “Sonic the Hedgehog” is like watching a drunk try to jumpstart a party that was well and truly dead upon his arrival. Unfortunately, Carrey’s laborious efforts only make things worse. I don’t know that “Sonic the Hedgehog” was ever salvageable, because ultimately, everything in it, including the good stuff, is depressing.

  • Simon Abrams  –  Roger Ebert
  • Simon Abrams is a native New Yorker and freelance film critic whose work has been featured in The New York TimesVanity FairThe Village Voice, and elsewhere.

In the marketing material for Sonic the Hedgehog, Paramount’s synopsis begins with the following words: “Based on the global blockbuster videogame franchise from Sega…” Little more needs to be said. In the grand tradition of other motion picture adaptations of videogames, Sonic the Hedgehog is as creatively bankrupt as it is market-driven. It’s a 99-minute commercial designed to drive sales of merchandise. Okay, it’s not as bad as Super Mario Brothers, but that’s damning with faint praise.

Sonic the Hedgehog is really an animated film with a few human actors infiltrating the proceedings. One wonders why director Jeff Fowler didn’t dispense altogether with people. The film has the same juvenile appeal that many lesser animated productions have. We’re not talking Disney/Pixar or Dreamworks here. The film, with its bright colors and adorable title character, may find favor among the seven-year-old crowd. Older viewers are likely to lose patience with the predictable plot and pointless action sequences before the halfway mark.

This is an “origin story,” as if a speedy blue hedgehog needs such a thing. Sonic (whose voice is provided by Ben Schwartz) is a refugee from a distant planet who has used his magic rings to travel across space and time to Earth. While there, he acts like a Peeping Tom, observing the activities of small town policeman Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) and his wife, Maddie (Tika Sumpter).

One day, loneliness gets the better of Sonic and, in a fit of pique, he unleashes an EMP that knocks out power to the entire area. The government takes notice and sends their best evil genius, Dr. Ivo Robotnik (Jim Carrey), to ascertain the cause and take control of the situation. This forces Sonic to reveal himself to Tom and the two go on the run from Dr. Robotnik, headed for a showdown in San Francisco.

Jim Carrey’s cartoonish villain allows the comedian to shamelessly overact in a way he hasn’t been able to in a while. For many years now, Carrey has been struggling to evolve as a performer, distancing himself from roles that echo his early screen successes. Dr. Robotnik recalls the kind of character a younger Carrey would have embraced – a preening Wiley Coyote with a constipated expression and a mustache made for twirling. Carrey is easily the best thing about Sonic the Hedgehog, although that’s not saying much.

My guess is that longtime fans of the videogame franchise won’t care one way or the other about the movie, much as last year’s Detective Pikachu or the ongoing Angry Birds series haven’t added anything to the playing experience. The brand’s recognizability is the movie’s primary asset. One wishes the filmmakers had put more effort into the hackneyed story of an unlikely friendship between an Earth man and an alien CGI creature. E.T. this isn’t.

The film’s obviousness and predictability make a review superfluous. You know everything about this movie before watching it and nothing between the Paramount opening logo and the end credits offers any surprises – or, for that matter, much in the way of enjoyment. Young kids will love it and, as parents, it’s the duty of many an adult to take the hit.

27 years ago, when I reviewed Super Mario Brothers, the progenitor of this unfortunate genre, I wrote the following: “The fun of playing the video game is that you’re involved – you control what the little figure on the screen does. With the movie, on the other hand, you’re a bystander, sitting in a seat watching a bunch of actors run around getting absolutely nothing done and speaking dialogue that could have been written by a precocious five-year old.” Technology has moved on but not much has changed.

Whatever else it may achieve, Sonic the Hedgehog is unlikely to elevate the based-on-a-videogame category above the dismal level where it has wallowed for the past quarter-century.

  • A movie review by James Berardinelli


Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) Credits

Sonic the Hedgehog movie poster

Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

Rated PG for action, some violence, rude humor and brief mild language.

99 minutes


Ben Schwartz as Sonic (voice)

James Marsden as Tom Wachowski

Jim Carrey as Dr. Ivo Robotnik / Eggman

Tika Sumpter as Maddie Wachowski

Lee Majdoub as Stone

Frank C. Turner as Crazy Carl

Adam Pally as Billy Robb


  • Jeff Fowler

Writer (characters)

  • Yuji Naka
  • Naoto Ohshima
  • Hirokazu Yasuhara


  • Patrick Casey
  • Josh Miller


  • Stephen F. Windon


  • Debra Neil-Fisher
  • Stacey Schroeder


  • Junkie XL


Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) Plot

On a distant planet known as Mobius, Sonic, an anthropomorphic blue hedgehog who can run at supersonic speed, is unexpectedly followed by a tribe of echidnas. His guardian, an anthropomorphic female owl named Longclaw, gives him a bag of warp rings that open portals to other planets. She uses one to send him to Earth while she stays behind to hold off the echidnas, leaving Sonic alone.

Ten years later, Sonic enjoys a secret life near the town of Green Hills, Montana, but longs to make friends. He idolizes the local sheriff, Tom Wachowski, and his veterinarian wife, Maddie, unaware the pair are to relocate to San Francisco as Tom plans to accept a post with the SFPD.

One night, Sonic grows upset over his loneliness while playing baseball alone and inadvertently triggers an electromagnetic pulse that causes a massive power outage across the Pacific Northwest while running at high speeds. The United States Department of Defense reluctantly enlists the services of eccentric roboticist and scientific genius Dr. Robotnik to determine the cause. Seeing he is being hunted, Sonic plots to leave Earth for a different planet; he is reluctant to do so as the planet only consists of fungi.

However, Tom discovers Sonic in his shed and shoots him with a tranquilizer dart, causing Sonic to accidentally create a portal to the Transamerica Pyramid’s tower roof upon reading the writing on Tom’s shirt. Sonic accidentally drops his bag of rings on the tower’s roof before he passes out. Tom hesitantly agrees to help Sonic and the two flee when confronted by Robotnik, who falsely labels Tom a domestic terrorist. The two slowly bond, with Tom relating to Sonic’s desire for friends. Sonic creates a bucket list and Tom helps him complete several entries along their journey.

Meanwhile, Robotnik, discovering that one of Sonic’s quills holds an almost limitless amount of electrical energy, plans to capture Sonic to use his powers for his machines. As he tracks them down, Sonic and Tom manage to fight off several mechanized drones sent by Robotnik, but Sonic is injured in the battle.

Arriving in San Francisco, Tom brings Sonic to Maddie, who treats him at her sister Rachel’s home. Sonic receives a new pair of red sneakers to replace his ruined ones from Jojo, Rachel’s daughter. The group heads to the roof of the tower and recovers the rings as Robotnik arrives in an advanced attack hovercraft and his flight suit powered by the quill.

Sonic fights off Robotnik’s drones and uses one of his rings to send Tom and Maddie back to Green Hills to protect them; however, Robotnik uses the quill’s power to match Sonic’s speed. Sonic fights Robotnik in a chase across the world before Robotnik subdues Sonic in Green Hills. Tom and the townsfolk intervene, and Tom acknowledges Sonic as his friend, causing Sonic to regain his power.

Sonic takes back his quill’s power from Robotnik, weakening Robotnik’s hovercraft. Sonic also promises himself that he would use his power to protect his friends. Using his powerful spin attack, Sonic attacks viciously against Robotnik and defeats him by banishing him into a portal to the mushroom planet. Following the incident, Tom and Maddie decide to stay in Green Hills and let Sonic live with them. The government erases all evidence of the events, including records of Robotnik’s existence.

Three months later, Robotnik is still in possession of Sonic’s quill and usable equipment salvaged from the remains of his hovercraft. He swears to return to Earth and exact revenge against Sonic. Sometime later, an anthropomorphic two-tailed fox emerges from a ring portal on Earth in search of Sonic.


Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) Box office

Sonic the Hedgehog grossed $149 million in the United States and Canada, and $171 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $320 million. It was the sixth-highest-grossing film of 2020, and the highest-grossing superhero film of the year, ending Marvel Studios decade-long run of having the highest-grossing film of the genre (from 2010 to 2019). The film’s budget was estimated at being between $85 million and $90 million. 

In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside Fantasy IslandThe Photograph, and Downhill, and was initially projected to gross $40–50 million from 4,130 theaters in its four-day President’s Day opening weekend. After making $21 million on its first day (including $3 million from Thursday night previews), estimates were raised to $64 million. It went on to top the box office with a $58 million debut over the three-day weekend, and $70 million over the four, breaking Detective Pikachus record for the biggest opening weekend by a video game-based film.

It was also the fourth-best President’s Day holiday weekend and Jim Carrey’s second biggest opening weekend, behind Bruce Almighty (2003).The success was attributed in part to the redesign of Sonic and the publicity it created, and the delayed release date, which meant it opened with less competition from other family films.Opening day audiences were 56% male and 44% female, with 70% under 25 years and 30% over 25 years.

In its second weekend, Sonic the Hedgehog made $26.2 million and retained the top spot at the box office, bringing its ten-day domestic gross to $106.6 million. Sonic the Hedgehog made $16.3 million in its third weekend and was dethroned by newcomer The Invisible Man. On March 14, 2020, it became the highest-grossing film based on a video game in US box office history, surpassing Detective Pikachu. 

Sonic the Hedgehog was released in 40 countries during its three-day opening weekend, topping the international box office with $43 million. Its strongest international regions were Latin America and Europe, with its largest openings being $6.7 million in Mexico, $6.2 million in the United Kingdom, $4.3 million in France, $3.3 million in Germany, and $3 million in Brazil. Worldwide, it made $101 million over the three-day weekend and $113 million over the four days.

In its second weekend the film again topped the international box office with $38.3 million from 56 countries for a ten-day overseas gross of $96.5 million, and topped the global box office again with $64.6 million for a ten-day worldwide gross of $203.1 million. Its largest international markets in its first ten days were the United Kingdom ($19.1 million), Mexico ($12.3 million), and France ($9.1 million), retaining the top spot in these markets. The film opened in 16 new markets, led by a number-one debut in Russia ($6.3 million).

The film was released in Japan on June 26, 2020, after being postponed from a previous March release due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and debuted at No. 6 that weekend. In China, the release was also postponed due to the pandemic, eventually receiving a July 31 date and underperforming at the Chinese box office due to new pandemic-related theatre policies there. 

In terms of box office admissions, the film sold 15,876,790 tickets in the United States and Canada (annual rank #3), 6,811,679 tickets in Mexico (annual #1), 893,634 tickets in Peru (annual #2), 468,697 tickets in Ecuador (annual #1), 67,230 tickets in the Dominican Republic (annual #2), 12,454,206 tickets in Europe (annual #3), 3,001,403 tickets in Brazil (annual #3), 698,500 tickets in China,[125] 687,740 tickets in Argentina (annual #3), and 118,725 tickets in South Korea, for a combined 41,078,604 tickets sold in these territories.


Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) Critical Response

On Rotten Tomatoes, Sonic the Hedgehog has an approval rating of 63% based on 250 reviews, with an average rating of 5.9/10. The website’s critics consensus reads: “Fittingly fleet and frequently fun, Sonic the Hedgehog is a video game-inspired adventure the whole family can enjoy — and a fine excuse for Jim Carrey to tap into the manic energy that launched his career.”

On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 47 out of 100, based on 42 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “A” on an A+ to F scale, and PostTrak reported it received an average 4 out of 5 stars, with 66% of viewers they surveyed saying they would definitely recommend it.

Akeem Lawanson of IGN gave the film a score of 7 out of 10, praising the performances and the nostalgia, stating, “While this family-friendly action-comedy suffers from a simplistic story and leans too heavily on tired visual clichés, Sonic the Hedgehog is nevertheless boosted by solid performances from Ben Schwartz as Sonic and Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik. Their ongoing cat-and-mouse game is entertaining, and passionate fans of the Sega franchise should appreciate all the nods to Sonic’s history.”

Dami Lee of The Verge gave the film a positive review, praising the nostalgic elements seen in the film, writing that it “shines when it remembers it’s based on a video game, and there’s some genuinely fun stuff—like when Sonic uses his time-stopping powers or Robotnik’s elaborate ‘evil-plotting’ montage that makes you wonder why more movies don’t feature bad guys with choreographed dance sequences. Carrey plays up Robotnik as the cartoon villain he is, and it’s a true delight to watch him in his element.”

Corey Plante of Inverse called it a “road trip superhero movie” and “the best superhero movie of 2020” so far.John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter, gave the film a positive review, saying: “Flesh-and-blood actors help keep this game derived kids’ flick afloat.”

Gene Park of The Washington Post gave the film a positive review, saying it was “the furthest thing from Cats, despite the early comparisons. Wary fans expecting the usual easy target to mock will instead find something to fervently celebrate for years.” Amon Warrman of Empire gave the film two out of five stars, writing, “An on-form Jim Carrey can’t stop Sonic’s live-action debut from feeling like a missed opportunity. If the teased sequels do materialize, here’s hoping the storytelling levels up.”

Ben Kenigsberg of The New York Times gave the film a negative review and wrote, “Sonic now resembles a cartoon hedgehog instead of a spray-painted marmot. But if anything was done to de-genericize the script, it hasn’t helped. Not that the Sega games—in which the fleet-footed hero zips around doing flips and collecting gold coins (which here encircle the Paramount mountain) gave the director, Jeff Fowler, much to work with.”[136]

Varietys Owen Gleiberman criticized the tone: “For all the borderline tedium I felt at Sonic the Hedgehog, I do realize that this is a picture made for 8-year-olds. And they’ll probably like it just fine. Yet I would also call the overly kiddified tone of the movie a mistake.” Writing for The Guardian, Steve Rose gave the film two out of five, saying elements were “clearly indebted” to other films, such as Quicksilver’s powers in the X-Men movies, and finding the message of friendship “trite and familiar”.

Simon Abrams of gave the film one out of four, writing, “Sonic the Hedgehog is only as successful as the amount of time you want to spend watching its animated protagonist go on instantly forgettable adventures, and boy, is that unfortunate.”


Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) Accolades

Year Award Category Recipients Result
2020 SXSW Film Festival Excellence in Title Design Sonic the Hedgehog Nominated
People’s Choice Awards The Family Movie of 2020 Nominated
2021 Critics’ Choice Super Awards Best Superhero Movie Nominated
Best Villain in a Movie Jim Carrey Won
Best Actor in a Superhero Movie Ben Schwartz and Jim Carrey Nominated
Hawaii Film Critics Society Best Visual Effects Sonic the Hedgehog Nominated
Hollywood Critics Association Awards Best Animated or VFX Performance Ben Schwartz Won
Best Blockbuster Sonic the Hedgehog Nominated
Best Visual Effects Ged Wright Nominated
Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards Favorite Movie Sonic the Hedgehog Nominated
Favorite Movie Actor Jim Carrey Nominated
Ursa Major Awards Best Motion Picture Sonic the Hedgehog Nominated
Saturn Awards Best Fantasy Film Release Nominated

Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) Movie Info

The world needed a hero — it got a hedgehog. Powered with incredible speed, Sonic embraces his new home on Earth — until he accidentally knocks out the power grid, sparking the attention of uncool evil genius Dr. Robotnik. Now, it’s supervillain vs. supersonic in an all-out race across the globe to stop Robotnik from using Sonic’s unique power to achieve world domination.


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