Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik, an evil scientist, in "Sonic the Hedgehog". Picture: Supplied
Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik, an evil scientist, in "Sonic the Hedgehog". Picture: Supplied

'Sonic the Hedgehog' director Jeff Fowler unleashes Jim Carrey's comedic force

By Debashine Thangevelo Time of article published Feb 22, 2020

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Audiences never expected to be charmed by the “swagger” of the extraterrestrial blue hero in "Sonic the Hedgehog". But they are. 

In fact, they are loving this film, which is based on the video game of the same name, and with good reason, it seems. 

Director Jeff Fowler, who bagged an Oscar nomination for "Gopher Broke", his 2004 short animated film, explained: “Every teenager can see a bit of themselves in Sonic. So this was about taking someone people have loved for 30 years and telling a film story with him.”

On how he felt watching the movie with an audience for the first time, he said: “Amazing. When you’re making a movie with humour in it, to watch people watch the movie and laugh and have the reaction to a moment that you wanted them to have, it’s an incredible feeling. 

"It’s instant gratification that people are having fun and laughing and gasping with emotion and enjoying themselves. It changes your whole experience of a movie, when you get to watch it with an audience.”

What’s your relationship with Sonic been like over the course of your life?

“I was 13 when the first game came out and I loved it. And I really feel like we’ve managed to create something for everyone with this movie [not just fans of the game]. There’s humour and there’s action and there’s Jim Carrey and things that are very emotionally universal. 

"When I was 13, I was playing every video game I could get my hands on. Then the Sega Genesis came along with better graphics and game-play, and Sonic was the mascot and the flagship character for Sega because that game was so popular and such an industry-changing moment. And not just from a video game perspective, but from a character perspective. 

"You just hadn’t seen a character like Sonic before, a character with genuine swagger. He had a style, an attitude you just hadn’t seen in games before, and teenagers responded to that immediately, in the best way possible. And they still respond to it. I think that's why he has been around for 30 years, because every teenager can see a bit of themselves in Sonic.”

Fowler has also been getting a lot of attention on his Twitter feed, which carries the tag, ‘Masher of Creative Potatoes. Tamer of Hedgehogs.’ 

He added: “Sonic is not tameable! I’ll have to change that to ‘Attempted Tamer of Hedgehogs’. Sonic really is energy and spirit incarnate, and just the joy of being a kid and constantly being in motion. He uses all of the elements of his imagination and play, for fun. There’s so much about Sonic that is just elemental and essential about being a kid: enthusiasm and optimism and sheer spirit. It’s electric.”

Ben Schwartz, from "Parks and Recreation", does the voice of Sonic the Hedgehog.

On reworking Sonic’s look after the reactions to the first trailer, Fowler admitted: “It was definitely a watershed moment of happiness to see the fans react so positively to our redesign work (when they saw the new version of Sonic). It was actually a very simple and easy decision. 

"The message (from the fans) was so clear and unifying about how they wanted to see him that, in a way, it really brought our team closer together. We loved the movie so much that we didn’t want people to stay away from it because they weren’t happy with the design. It was a huge relief to release that second trailer and see how people responded.”

Jim Carrey is being heaped with praise for his role as Dr. Robotnik, an evil scientist attempting to get his hands on Sonic's super-speed powers in order to rule the world. 

Fowler shared: “Jim is so great about collaborating. Before the cameras are even rolling he’s pitching ideas. Out of that comes a really great plan – and then you just unleash him! He really is just a force of nature. So incredibly talented, so funny, and his instincts are so good. Just watching him is amazing.”

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