Movie Review: “Sonic the Hedgehog” vs “Onward”

I took my son to see two movies in the last week: Sonic the Hedgehog, a live action film with a CGI character based on the popular video game, and Pixar’s Onward, a computer-animated original.

Short version? If you can only see one of these movies, choose Onward.

I’m only sort of a fan of the Sonic games but my son adores them and has every one he can get his hands on, so of course he’s been looking forward to the movie ever since the first trailer dropped. And he wasn’t disappointed, but he didn’t enjoy it as much as he expected. It was all right, not terrible, but nothing special either. James Marsden as the small-town sheriff is fine. Jim Carey is typically Jim Carrey: a little over the top, enjoying the bad guy role, but nothing you haven’t already seen (though he gets the best 30 seconds of the film dancing to Poppy Family’s 1971 hit “Where Evil Grows”).

You can listen to the song, picture Jim Carrey doing his thing, then go play Sonic 2 and save yourself the cost of a movie ticket.

Onward is much better. It’s the story of two teenage boys hoping to get a little time with their long-dead father, but ends up being about appreciating the family you already have. It’s got sweet but dorky parents and step-parents, and kids realizing their parents are still cool even though they’re dorky, and parents not letting middle-age stand in the way of saving their kids when necessary. There’s a lot about being proud of who you are and finding what makes you special, set in a fantasy-modern world with clever details. There’s also a very minor character with an obvious physical disability who’s treated exactly the same as everyone else – no one mentions his disability at all, he’s just one of the kids – which was nice to see.

I liked it on the big screen but I think it’ll still be good on TV when its released for DVD/streaming. I’m glad I got to watch Onward with my son, and I recommend seeing it in whatever format you can.

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