This is the movie where the power of trolling really paid off. After their disastrous trailer dropped in 2019, Paramount & Marza Animation Planet scrambled to redesign the hero, Sonic the hedgehog, after a tsunami of hate was unleashed on the poor little blue guy. Are his new CGI features better? Will that matter?
After an all-too brief backstory about this little blue alien fuzzball from some other planet and/or dimension, Sonic (voiced by an enthusiastic Ben Schwartz) comes to Earth because… reasons, and settles in the quaint mountain town of Green Hills, Montana where he enjoys zipping along at unimaginable speeds (comparable to Quicksilver or The Flash–his favorite comic book). He also stalks the local bored sheriff, Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), who’s married to the town’s vet, Maddie (Tika Sumpter). In an act of sheer loneliness one night, Sonic accidentally emits a powerful EMP pulse that not only takes out the power grid, but gets the boys in Washington very nervous.
In an act of pure lunacy, they send Dr. Ivo Robotnick–aka Dr. Eggman–(Jim Carrey), a mad super-genius government scientist who’s as crazy as his curly mustache to investigate. He unleashes his army of killer drones to find Sonic and this is where our lightning fast hedgehog meets Tom. Faster than you can say, “Plot device”, Sonic loses his precious bag of golden rings that can open portals to other places like Mushroom Planet or The Great Wall of China. But instead of running to San Francisco where the bag o’ rings are (which would take him about 2 minutes), Sonic and Tom decide on a road trip because the movie’s gotta movie. Road Trip!!
On the way, hijinks ensue with stopovers in a cliched country bar, narrow escapes from Robotnik and his lethal machines on the road, and a really awkward attempt at a second act break-up that would have lead to a third act reconciliation, but they didn’t quite stick the landing. Eeesssh!! The third act showdown is just ridiculous and, not only has massive plot holes in it, but breaks it’s own “Sonic” laws that they implemented. I’m guessing the writers let their 11-year-old children finish the ending with all its silliness and Saturday morning cartoon dialogue. After all, this IS aimed at kids, right?
Newbie’s Patrick Casey & Josh Miller (TV series Golan the Insatiable) played it safe for their very first screenplay and copycatted the same ol’ same ol’ “buddy road trip with a bad guy chasing after them” scenario that’s been done to death. The story is very standard, labored, weak, and oh-so by-the-numbers that you can tick-off the tropes on your checklist. Alien learns valuable lesson from human protagonist and decides to stay? Check. Villain gets their comeuppance, but will no doubt be back? Check. Human couple HAD a problem, but it’s solved now, thanks to new alien friend? Check. Alien meets cute little human girl & dog? Check & double check!
The good news? Jim Carrey is back! After playing questionable, dark characters in a string of flops (Kick-Ass 2, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Bad Batch, Dark Crimes) Carrey’s ol’ crazy persona that made him an icon in movies like Ace Ventura, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and The Mask has returned. Yaay! Thanks to first time theatrical director Jeff Fowler’s manic direction, Carrey and Marsden carry this movie with their over-the-top commitments. Aimed squarely for the kiddies (yes, there are butt & fart jokes), Fowler keeps the pace fast ‘n’ loose along with shameless Olive Garden plugs. There was SO much room for a much better parody here, but sadly the writers never took advantage of it.
It seems that James Marsden is forever doing strange roles. Enchanted, Death at a Funeral, his Cyclops role in all those X-men movies, and his latest outing with a blue, fuzzy, CGI video game character. But first he hung around with a different fuzzy CGI character, and one that annoyed him just as much as Sonic.
If you’ve every wondered about where all those Easter eggs come from (and who hasn’t), now we know. On Easter Island (figures, right?), a young, optimistic CGI bunny named E.B. (voiced by Russell Brand) is busy banging away on his drums, his favorite past-time & passion. BUT! His overly demanding father (Hugh Laurie) wants him to succeed to the throne of being THE Easter bunny, while Carlos (Hank Anzaria), the leader of the Easter chicks, is plotting a coup d’état against the bunnies! Preferring the life of a world-class drummer, E.B. takes off for the bright lights of Hollywood… or, at least, Van Nuys.
Once in the Valley, E.B. is hit by a car driven by out-of-work slacker, Fred O’Hare (Marsden). Feigning injury, E.B. talks to Fred (a shocker!) and convinces him to take him the house Fred’s sitting for as he recovers. But when E.B. causes trouble, Fred attempts to release him back in the wilderness. E.B., lying about being the REAL Easter Bunny, says he’ll help Fred get a job, but only if he’ll get him to an America’s Got Talent-like audition with David Hassellhoff. Surprisingly, the Hoff does react to a talking CGI bunny that plays the drums. Only in Hollywood, amIright?
Meanwhile, a military bunny unit from Easter Island (called the Pink Berets) are sent to capture & return E.B., but the clever rabbit prepares a decoy to fake his death and leaves for Hasselhoff’s show. The Berets see the decoy and, horrified that Fred has apparently killed E.B., capture the human and take him to Easter Island instead. Fred is confronted by E.B.’s father and Carlos, however Carlos pretends to be upset about E.B.’s death, wanting to seize control of the Easter factory. The psycho chick ties up E.B.’s dad and places him and Fred into the chocolate bunny carving line.
E.B., feeling guilty for acting selfish and leaving Fred, goes home to Easter Island and saves the day as only a CGI bunny with delusions of grandeur can do. On one hand you have the excellent marriage of Universal Studios and their Illumination Animation Studios to do the live action/CGI combo. But then you have a weak script by Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio (all the Despicable Me films), and Brian Lynch (Minions), who have written some quality screenplays–and some duds as well. Now don’t get me wrong, Marsden as the exasperated human acting against a CG rabbit is pretty funny stuff to be sure, and there are even moments of brilliance with him and Kaley Cuoco, who plays his sister, but the whole movie seems so uninspired, contrived, and boring at times.
Director Tim Hill (The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie) moves everything along quickly, but perhaps a little TOO quickly. The frenetic pace, I assume so the kiddies won’t fall asleep, allows for no proper story or character development. But what can you expect for a movie like this anyway, right? The Easter Bunny has a Cockney accent!? WTH!? Try explaining THAT to your kids! Even with all that, I did manage to laugh at many of the goofball scenes, even though many plot holes were staring me in the face at the same time. Go figure.