When I woke up today and saw that the first real trailer for Paramount’s live-action Sonic the Hedgehog movie had been released, I knew there was no getting around it. I had a list to write today and this was all anyone was talking about, so it didn’t matter if I was emotionally ready for it or not — I had to watch the trailer.
Now, one might interpret this as a sign of bias; that I had decided to write a negative list before I’d even seen the trailer. This was not the case! My original plan was to watch the trailer a few times, take some screenshots, and see what felt “listable” about it. There’s a world where this trailer is just as exciting and fun as the Detective Pikachu trailers, and were we living in that world, this would be a very different list. But friends, that is not the world we live in.
I wanted to be excited for this movie, I really did. Ben Schwartz (the voice of Sonic) played my favorite character on Parks & Recreation, and Jim Carrey’s serpentine career has been bright enough in spots that this could have, somehow, been the perfect cast for a movie just as unlikely. And for what it’s worth, Schwartz’s voice work is probably the best thing about this trailer. The rest of it though, it’s like the trailer is daring you to keep watching. “That meme wasn’t enough to get you to close the tab, eh?” the trailer says from behind its giant control panel. “How about this?” It then pushes a few buttons, and Jim Carrey walks out of a trailer with a mustache.
But I kept going, because that’s my job. I do these things so you don’t have to. I did, however, take a screenshot every time my heart said “please don’t do this,” and we will now go through those moments together, in the order that they occurred.
When the Paramount Logo Had Rings
This might seem harsh, especially since it’s within the first 10 seconds of the trailer, but there’s important context you have to consider. This is half a second after a shot of a cop car hiding behind a big sign that says “Welcome to Green Hills,” which based on the rest of the trailer must be a mix of Green Hill Zone and Kojima’s cancelled Silent Hills project. To go from opening the trailer with that moment of “look, see, we know Sonic things” directly into this made me want to close the tab in mild exasperation. Comparatively, however, this is the tamest moment on the list.
And Then ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ Starts Playing
Coolio’s 1995 masterpiece, “Gangsta’s Paradise,” is a song about impoverished black communities and how many are trapped in an endless cycle of violence due to a lack of positive role models and poor access to education. It incorporates Christian imagery in its lyrics and choir aesthetics in its orchestration to draw contrast between the Christ-focused religious beliefs common to such communities, and the violent and/or criminal activities that took place in those communities — actions both condemned by the American government and exalted by its popular media. Coolio even goes so far as to say that his success as a black man came at the cost of (and was only achievable by sacrificing) part of his humanity. So uh, just like Sonic the Hedgehog? Movie????
Sonic Does the Michelle Jenneke Bounce
Remember back in 2012, when the worst parts of the internet were horny over 19-year-old Olympic hurdler Michelle Jenneke’s warm-up routine, which went viral after being posted on 4chan and Reddit? Well, Sonic does that warm-up routine in this trailer. Because y’all like memes, right? The old ones about sexually objectifying barely legal teens?
“Gotta go fast.”
After Sonic stretches, we then get our first spoken lines of dialogue: a voice over of Schwartz’s Sonic saying “gotta go fast.” He says this because Sonic saying “gotta go fast” is one of the oldest Sonic the Hedgehog memes of them all, dating back over ten years. And this movie knows about it! Just like it knows about rings and Green Hill Zone. Do you believe in this movie’s street cred yet? Because this trailer really, really wants you to know that it knows the Sonic things. It’s a Sonic fan just like you!
And Then Jim Carrey Shows Up
A huge portion of this trailer is devoted to Dr. Robotnik’s conversation with an army major, where he belittles the major’s authority and intelligence. At one point he asks an assistant to translate one of his sick burns, and the assistant says “the doctor thinks you’re basic,” which is a devastating human insult. It’s an awful montage for a couple of reasons, mainly because it isn’t funny even a little bit, but also because this Robotnik seems nothing like the well-established, dramatically bombastic Eggman seen in all other Sonic media for the past decade. And I’m not against a unique take on Robotnik, but that’s not what’s happening here either. What is happening is a textbook Jim Carrey “wacky guy” performance that could be applied to any character and is just as tired as ever.
The Maw of Darkness
Hedgehogs do have teeth, but they’re cute little baby rodent fangs, not … this. Not this. Please, not this … please …
Remember the Sega Genesis?????
Movie trailers always have that part where the tagline flashes on screen in-between a bunch of action shots, and the Sonic the Hedgehog trailer is no different. And I’ll give ’em credit where credit is due — “Every hero has a genesis” is a much better tagline than “a whole new speed of hero,” which was the first one they came up with. So, kudos on that. My issue with it is that, after the Paramount rings and the Green Hills sign and hearing Sonic say “gotta go fast,” I get that you know what Sonic the Hedgehog is. You’ve convinced me. Pick like, two of these things at most and put them in the trailer. Please stop hurting my family like this.
The trailer ends with a brief shot of Carrey looking far more Eggman than before, surrounded by giant mushrooms, which could only happen in a Sonic the Hedgehog level, so here’s my guess: This is the very end of the movie. Jim Carrey’s Robotnik gets sucked into the video game world and becomes Eggman, and that’s where Eggman actually comes from, according to the movie. I do not doubt for a single instant that they would end the movie like that, or that they would put the final shot of the film in the trailer.
We’ll find out for sure when this thing comes out in November.