Watching ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ on Valentine’s Day


The new “Sonic the Hedgehog” film just may be the Valentine’s Day release to end all Valentine’s movies. It’s the pure cinematic excellence Vertov and Clair were looking for in the ’20s. It’s the kind of film you can take your significant other, your crush, the bros, the gals — heck, anyone — to. There’s something for everyone.

Sonic flosses — the dance, not the oral hygiene activity — twice. The funniest running joke is Eggman, played by Jim Carrey, controlling his drone army (and yes, Sonic does equate Eggman with Jeff Bezos) by randomly slapping his fingers onto buttons built into the palm of his glove. And naturally, the sexual tension between Sonic, voiced by Ben Schwartz, and the Eggman is carried over from the video game series. Without getting into spoilers, all I can say is this: It’s game-changing.

The best performance comes from James Marsden, who plays Tom Wachowski — a name which makes clear this film’s debt to the classic “Matrix” series from the Wachowski Sisters. Tom, much like Neo, is given two choices. The first is to sell Sonic out to the Eggman, and the second is to help Sonic in his quest for the sack of rings. This is an especially clever twist on the red pill/blue pill trope because the good Sonic is blue, whereas the bad Eggman is red.

The fact that Marsden was able to pull off the depth that he did is a testament to his skills as an actor — the comic timing of his goofs with Sonic, his distress when carrying around Sonic’s unconscious body, his fear prior to shooting Sonic — the list goes on. And as we know, he was able to do it in spite of the fact that Sonic was never in the same room as him because Sonic is not real. I know the Oscars were last week, but put Marsden down as a frontrunner for Best Supporting Actor and Tom Holkenborg’s music for Best Original Score.

The thematic resonance of Sonic’s desire “to make a real friend” in a film released on St. Valentine’s Day shows that Paramount is once again willing to take the risks they were taking with their classics in the ’40s and ’50s. Watching this with some (platonic) friends in a packed Dolby Cinema-equipped theater (because we’re all single today) really sends a message — one that is both of the times and timeless.

Yes, there was some weird phallic imagery with one of Sonic’s stiff porcupine hairs that finds its way into the hands of various characters throughout the film, and Dr. Robotnik has an abusive but oddly tender relationship with his assistant. Regardless, you can choose to ignore this romantic subtext and just focus on the funny blue hamster making topical and timely cultural references. Or you can choose to fully commit to the hidden messages and take your own date to see this (potential) Valentine’s classic. Because even though I’m giving this movie two white-gloved thumbs up, the choice is yours. 

That said, as far as Sonic adaptations go, I still prefer the parody of Ween’s “Ocean Man” titled “Sonic Man” that a kid from my high school made about the little guy.