This morning the internet was greeted with the first official look at the Sonic the Hedgehog movie trailer – a real film where a human policeman befriends a near-nude talking CG animal who runs quickly – and unsurprisingly, the reaction was overwhelmingly negative. The events of today had been foretold for months now, as leaked promotional images, posters, and press kits, along with deliberately planned interviews and behind closed doors media events had already led the world to fear the worst: another bad video game movie had arrived. With our fears confirmed, we did what we always do on social media. We cracked our knuckles, hunched over our beer guts, and started pecking away at our phones and keyboards to tear this thing a new a$$hole.
“I hate his human teeth”
“I hate his weird hairy legs”
“This movie looks like trash”
“Thanks I hate it”
“Who is Coolio?”
Fearing I’d be forgotten in this critical mob beatdown/collective zeitgeist pile-on moment, I did my part to let the world know that I too did not like the thing everybody else didn’t like. I screencapped some stills from the trailer. fired up Photoshop, and started to plan my attack.
“The human teeth thing feels too easy. Everyone is doing it. Let’s work for this one a bit. Well, there’s a scene where the guy who played Cyclops in X-Men finds a glowing blue hair and looks horrified. Should I say it’s one of Sonic’s pubes? Nah, that feels kind of gross. This is a kid’s movie. Don’t talk about the blue animal’s pubic hair. You’re a dad now. Oh! I know! There’s another scene where Sonic is being bombarded with missiles! I’ll Photoshop the “Rotten Tomato” splat on them, along with some thumbs-down icons and some “one out of five stars” ratings so it looks like Sonic is being pummeled with negative reviews, just like he will when the movie comes out! Nailed it!”
I exported the image and uploaded it to Twitter with the generation-spanning caption “tfw the reviews drop” (how hip of me!) and clicked the send Tweet button and waited for those sweet likes and retweets to roll in.
If I was a kid in the parking lot of a movie theater on my way to see Ninja Turtles 3 (which, like live-action Sonic, is another movie where the talking animal men were nearly nude and inexplicably had human teeth) and you showed me a video of a nearly forty-year-old man photoshopping “thumbs down” icons all over the film’s poster in an apartment, lit only by the sad blue glow of his own laptop, I would’ve thought it was the creepiest, saddest thing in the world. It wouldn’t have made me want to see the movie less. It would have made me terrified of the man I might become one day. A man who couldn’t see that stupid, harmless, trivial things can still bring joy to the kids who are looking for them. A man who thought that hating something that wasn’t for him was a better use of his time than celebrating something else that was. And today, much to the chagrin of the bad-but-fun movie-loving kid I once was, I became that man.
Will this movie be “good” in the traditional critical sense? Probably not. Will it satiate the cinematic needs of nearly three decades of Sonic fans, all of whom will be approaching the film with completely different expectations? Definitely not. Will most of us (including me) continue to collectively trash things we don’t like when we feel like it? Of course. It’s easy and feels good in the moment. But it’s also important to remind ourselves from time to time that everything on earth doesn’t specifically need to be designed for everyone, bad things can be enjoyable, and most kids are having too much fun to tell the difference anyway.
Oh, and speaking of 1993, that was also the same year we got the Super Mario Bros. movie, in case you’re a Nintendo fan (like I am) currently gloating at how great the Detective Pikachu movie looks compared to Sonic the Hedgehog. We all have to start somewhere.
Brian Altano is a host and producer at IGN. Go follow him on Twitter, if you’d like. For the record, he knows who Coolio is. Gangsta’s Paradise was his jam when that song first dropped, son.
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