Paramount's Sonic the Hedgehog, a live-action/animated hybrid based on the classic Sega video game property, is finally hitting theaters after a major setback saw the film delayed three months so the titular blue speedster could be redesigned. When the first Sonic the Hedgehog movie trailer hit the internet last spring, the criticism was quick and the memes were ruthless as fans wondered why the hedgehog's look was so different to the games. Instead of forging forward, director Jeff Fowler announced a release date delay and major redesign of Sonic would take place, which ended up being the right choice as Sonic the Hedgehog now features a much more classic design; the public has all but forgotten the original, less-than-pleasing look of the character and has focused more on the movie itself. Sonic the Hedgehog offers a kid-friendly adventure movie based on the classic Sega property that tells a solidly enjoyable, if uninventive story.

Written by Patrick Casey and Josh Miller (Into the Dark: School Spirit), the Sonic the Hedgehog script turns Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) into a superhero of a kind, making him an alien from another world with a special ability that's sought after by those who would use it for evil. As a child, Sonic is given magical rings that allow him to travel between worlds and told to stay hidden and keep running, which he does - until he makes a home on Earth. When Sonic accidentally causes a power outage and brings unwanted attention on himself and the town of Green Hills, Montana, the young hedgehog comes out of hiding and asks local sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) for help in retrieving his rings from San Francisco so he can flee to another world. They're pursued by the villainous Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey), who wants to dissect Sonic and learn the secret of his super-speed.

On the whole, Sonic the Hedgehog is a relatively simple story, pulling inspiration and story beats from established archetypes, like the superhero origin story and the road trip plot line. The odd-couple dynamic between Tom and Sonic is similarly tried-and-true, only freshened by the fact that one is an energetic blue hedgehog with the mentality of a... teenager(?) - and the other is a tired dad-type tasked with protecting the rambunctious speedster. It's a winning dynamic, playing on Marsden's natural charm and Schwartz's propensity to be the lovably annoying sidekick. However, there are times when the pair don't necessarily click and the jokes just don't work, but it's largely down to the script, which could have used a little punching up, especially on some of the one-liners. In fact - and unfortunately - Sonic and Tom aren't the movie's linchpin, as that would be Sonic the Hedgehog's baddie.

That said, the villain of Sonic the Hedgehog would have been entirely uninspired if not for the casting of Carrey. For his part, Carrey is back in his classic form, putting a wildly silly, theatrical and entertaining spin on Eggman that channels the same energy of his most popular 90s and early 00s roles like Ace Ventura, Batman Forever's The Riddler and the Grinch in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Whether because of Carrey or the script itself, Sonic the Hedgehog feels a little out of time, as if it was made in the 90s but still makes modern pop culture references (though, since culture moves so fast now, even its most recent pop culture references already feel out of date, like Sonic flossing after a win). It manages to work, partially because Carrey is able to smooth out some of the movie's rougher edges and, when he's not on screen, Marsden and Schwartz's performances are able to keep the film afloat - mostly.

Ultimately, Sonic the Hedgehog is very much a kids movie, for better or for worse. It's cute and engaging enough to keep younger audiences entertained, and while older viewers may not be as entirely invested, parents who themselves grew up with Sonic will no doubt be pleased to share the experience of his first live-action movie with their own kids. Certainly, there's enough nostalgia-driven humor and connections to the games to entertain Sonic fans of all ages. However, the movie's formulaic and rather simplistic approach to the world of Sonic and the story Sonic the Hedgehog chooses to tell may be a bit frustrating or boring for those expecting more from the property. Still, at the end of the day, Sonic the Hedgehog does accomplish what it sets out to do: tell a fun, entertaining and heartfelt story about a young outcast hedgehog who finds his place in the world.

As such, Sonic the Hedgehog is great family fun, especially for those with kids and/or parents who grew up playing the Sega games. The Sonic redesign certainly helps to feed into the nostalgia of the film, giving the movie and character a visual style that's easily recognizable to fans. While that may further make Sonic the Hedgehog feel like it's playing it too safe, there's something to be said about occasionally giving fans exactly what they want. In this case, it makes Sonic the Hedgehog more of a crowd-pleaser. For those who aren't necessarily fans of Sonic or Carrey's classic performances, Sonic the Hedgehog doesn't have much else to offer and can easily be missed in theaters. But considering the winter drought, those looking for something fun to check out won't go wrong with Sonic the Hedgehog. Altogether, Sonic the Hedgehog is a fairly middling family-friendly adventure movie, but a comparably good video game adaptation the belies a great deal of potential for a stronger, even more ambitious sequel. Hopefully Sonic the Hedgehog will get the chance to explore its world and take more risks in a followup.

Sonic the Hedgehog starts playing in U.S. theaters Thursday evening February 13th. It is 99 minutes long and rated PG for action, some violence, rude humor and brief mild language.

Sonic The Hedgehog (2020)
Release Date: Feb 14, 2020