Before the screening of this sequel to 2020’s Sonic the Hedgehog started, a representative from the film company asked us to please not spoil any of the film’s big surprises. Human nature being what it is, I spent the whole time anxiously wondering what is the thing I’m not supposed to spoil. That the good guys win in the end? Surely you could have guessed that, dear reader, given the film is clearly aimed at a family audience and features animated characters who first emerged in a video game where no one ever dies, just respawns.
There’s not much to spoil about Sonic the Hedgehog 2 because there’s not very much to say about it, other than it’s mildly amusing and reasonably competently assembled. Picking up where the first film left off, bright-blue hedgehog from another dimension Sonic (voiced again by Parks and Recreation’s Ben Schwartz) is still living as a kind of adopted son with Tom (James Marsden), a local cop in the small Montana town of Green Hills, and his veterinarian wife Maddie (Tika Sumpter), both of whom are kindly but not great at pretending to be acting with an animated character they can’t see during filming.
But Sonic’s nemesis, Dr Robotnik (Jim Carrey, kind of fantastic but pitching his performance’s energy at the level of a nuclear reactor in meltdown) has been rescued from his exile on the mushroom planet by a new character, a red, muscley echidna (also known as a spiny anteater) named Knuckles, voiced by Idris Elba, who has a beef with Sonic. A third animated creature, a fox with two tails named Tails (Colleen O’Shaughnessey) who clearly attended a school with a good STEM programme, arrives via a magic golden ring portal to help Sonic out.
While all this animated running, jumping and smashing is going on with the three primary-coloured beasties, Robotnik cracks wise with his old henchman Stone (Lee Majdoub) who is clearly besotted with Robotnik but can only express his feelings through latte foam art. Meanwhile, Tom and Maddie are off in Hawaii for the wedding of Maddie’s sister Rachel (formidable scene-stealer Natasha Rothwell, a Saturday Night Live alum) and seem to be stuck in an entirely different kind of movie, a comedy of manners and matrimony like one of those 90s/00s movies that starred Owen Wilson or Cameron Diaz. It all sort of comes together in the end, but there’s no earthly reason that it should all have taken two hours. Maybe the spoiler is the unfeasible length of the running time.