This is something of a minority opinion in our world, but I don't particularly care for the Sonic the Hedgehog movies. Robotnik and Stone make a great duo, but everywhere else it feels like the films always go for the easy gag, action sequences are stretched out too thin, the plot is overly simplistic, and I was thoroughly unallured by Idris Elba as Knuckles. Give me Luther, Bloodsport, or Charles Miner any day. It's maybe for the best that they don't exactly follow any of Sonic's needlessly convoluted stories, but aside from being CGI pacifiers for 90 minutes respite from your own children, I don't see the appeal. Box office returns, critical reception, and the gaming world's embrace of the Sonic flicks all prove me wrong, but Chip 'n Dale's Ugly Sonic feels like vindication.
My feelings towards the Sonic movies have always been out of step with the rest of the world. When Sonic was first revealed, I thought (as everyone else did) that the design was pretty ugly, but I also thought the memes kind of ran away with themselves and it became a much bigger deal than it needed to be. I don't think it was that bad. I think it would have been a silly reason for full grown adults to not see a movie about a superfast hedgehog from outer space who runs fast, eats chili dogs, and tells fart jokes. It was a strange example of the entitlement we see with mass market movie audiences, with the memery quickly moving beyond good-hearted mocking to mean-spirited demands that the design be changed.
If you watch Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers (side note: please do that, it's better than both Sonics), you will notice that Ugly Sonic is significantly uglier than the original Sonic. Although, perhaps you won't notice, because our perception of how ugly the OG movie Sonic design was means the sunken red rimmed eyes, goofy expression that constantly flashes teeth, and somehow both sharp and bulbous nose will seem less like parody exaggeration and more like 1:1 recreations. The joke with Ugly Sonic is not on Sonic, but on you.
Ugly Sonic, in part because of excellent voice work by Tim Robinson, is the best character in Chip 'n Dale. He's very clearly not-Sonic here, and instead is a washed up movie star (the premise being he is a different character to Sonic, and the 'real' Sonic is the one who got the movie gig), so does not have to contend with the dull writing of the Sonic script, nor does he have any loyalty to Sonic lore, and he doesn't even ever go fast. They are different characters almost entirely, and yet it feels like a victory lap nonetheless.
If you were one of the Sonic fans who were threatening boycotts, complaining that the animators didn't care, or crying into your limited edition Tails Burger King cup, the joke is very much on you here. If you did all that – not the harmless memes at some unfortunate screenshots, but real anger over a children's movie – then you have to understand Ugly Sonic has not been wheeled out for another masochistic bout of humiliation. He is not being put on show for us to laugh at. He's laughing at you. You who sobbed that he was ruining Sonic, only for him to deliver better laughs in a direct-to-Disney+ cameo than the Blue Blur has managed in two wide release extravaganzas.
He's the best character in Chip 'n Dale, and his design is to his credit, not a hindrance. Clearly the new, cleaner design of Ben Schwartz's Sonic has proven to be both popular and successful, but Ugly Sonic proves you can't judge a book by its cover, and you can't judge a hedgehog by its teeth.
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