Given that so many children-aimed films tend to throw in a joke or two for the accompanying adults to enjoy, it’s easy to forget that not every family project has to be constructed in a way for everyone to enjoy. Sometimes a film is solely designed for the youngens. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is one of those films. Aside from a few rounds of suggestive world play (you can get away with saying “shitake” instead of the more common expletive, apparently) and an admittedly very amusing bridezilla sequence towards the film’s back end, Jeff Fowler’s family fantasy sequel is strictly for the kids.
Not bothering with any type of narrative recap and picking up where the first film ended – 2020’s pre-pandemic near $320 million grossing Sonic the Hedgehog – we are thrown into the titular Sonic’s (voiced by Parks and Recreation‘s Ben Schwartz) desire to be something of a superhero, despite his evident lack of tact. In the town of Green Hills, Montana he’s living as something of an adopted son to Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie (Tika Sumpter), an incredibly loving and understanding couple who really should no better than to leave the little blue hedgehog alone to his own devices. But that’s exactly what they do when they flit off to Hawaii for Maddie’s sister’s wedding, leaving Sonic to make new friends and new enemies.
Said friend is Tails (voiced by Colleen O’Shaughnessey), a two-tailed, outer-dimensional fox who arrives via a magic portal to assist Sonic in his battle opposite aforementioned new enemy Knuckles (Idris Elba, providing at once dominating and dryly humorous vocal tones), a sizeable red-shaded echidna, who has ancient-long beef with the unaware Sonic. Whilst that trio are projecting the film’s 122 minutes forward without a care for how mind-numbing the material will be for the parents in tow, Jim Carrey returns from supposed exile as Dr. Robotnik, a mad scientist with the type of moustache that Kenneth Branagh’s Poirot would kill for, hellbent on global domination (because, why else?), utilising Knuckles’ and Sonic’s feud in the process; Carrey, in typical Carrey fashion, is as rubbery and as over-the-top as you’d expect, but he’s at least committing to the cartoonish madness with an unmatched vigour.
And whilst that would all be enough for a Sonic the Hedgehog sequel to coax by, the side-arc involving Tom and Maddie at the nuptials of her sister, Rachel (a scene-stealing Natasha Rothwell), provides the truest form of entertainment for the older audiences, bringing to mind the type of mid-2000’s situational comedy that Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey might’ve agreed to. Rachel’s vengeful bride moment – brought on by the chaos of Sonic – feels like it belongs in another film entirely, a film that I would more than happy to see come to fruition, especially if it means giving Rothwell the chance to shine that she so clearly deserves.
Ultimately, Sonic and Knuckles’ feud and the destination wedding setting collide, but it didn’t need to take 2 hours to do so. Whilst I can admit that Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is not a film I’d be recommending to the average (or single) movie goer, I can’t deny the fact that it hits the mark suitably as kid-friendly entertainment, and, really, it doesn’t aim, or need, to be anything more. As fast as Sonic is, this sequel never quite gets to where it needs to fast enough, but a smattering of age-appropriate humour, a wired Carrey, a hilarious Rothwell, and colourful visuals mean it’s fittingly distracting along the way.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is now screening in Australian cinemas. It is scheduled to be released theatrically in the United States from April 7th, 2022.