Yet another erstwhile leading man will get a nostalgic re-branding.
Jim Carrey is a weird actor. He has done some really popular movies that require about zero brain cells to process (the Ace Ventura series), and he has done some that have gone on to become pinnacles of the film canon as a whole (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind).
A plethora of Carrey’s work skews extremely offbeat, and in his prime, he was nothing if not fearless for his onscreen persona. The last couple of years have been a lot quieter for him, though. Carrey most recently produced the Showtime comedy-drama series I’m Dying Up Here, featured in Ana Lily Amirpour’s polarizing sophomore feature The Bad Batch, and made Dark Crimes — one of a handful of ill-fated movies that hold a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
However, Carrey may be slated to make a comeback of sorts in a part that wouldn’t be out of place among the outrageously comedic roles that shot him to stardom in the first place. According to Deadline, Carrey will face off with Sonic the Hedgehog, playing Doctor Eggman in the former character’s eponymous live-action/CGI film adaptation.
Carrey joins a cast comprising James Marsden and Tika Sumpter, both of whom currently have undisclosed roles in Sonic the Hedgehog. Plot details about the film remain under wraps, but the basic premise of the video game series is delightfully simple. Dr. Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik searches for the Chaos Emeralds in a bid to rule the world, and Sonic and his allies are the only ones standing in the mad scientist’s way. So basically, it’ll be a vibrant and wacky Infinity War with less emotional baggage.
Last year, Paramount acquired Sonic the Hedgehog from Sony and definitively put it back on everyone’s radar after years of the film being in development hell. Following the success of Deadpool, Tim Miller’s involvement as an executive producer on the film also piqued fascination and excitement. Now, the addition of bigger names like Carrey’s in starring roles lends additional buzz to the project, which will be helmed by first-time feature director Jeff Fowler.
Sonic the Hedgehog comes as yet another turning point in Carrey’s career. He had a prolific onscreen presence in the 1990s and 2000s, particularly in the wake of Ace Ventura, Dumb and Dumber, and The Mask, all of which came out in 1994 and showcased different facets of Carrey’s penchant for physical comedy. He notably went into villain territory by playing The Riddler in Batman Forever the following year.
Carrey went on to prove his mettle as a serious leading man in films such as The Truman Show and Man on the Moon. However, he never left strange characters behind, eventually playing even more eccentric household names. The Grinch, Count Olaf, and Ebenezer Scrooge practically bookend the early, mid, and late 2000s for Carrey.
The early 2010s saw Carrey slowly delve into the world of visual art, although within the last year, he’s been seemingly prepping an onscreen reemergence via plain old nostalgia. The short documentary I Needed Color caught us up with his artistic endeavors in painting and sculpting, while the Netflix documentary Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond chronicles his time on the set of Man on the Moon, and allows Carrey to revisit one of his most lauded performances. He and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind director Michel Gondry will also be reuniting for a Showtime comedy series called Kidding, which is due to premiere on September 9th.
Sonic the Hedgehog most definitely fits into the rest of Carrey’s upcoming slate as probably the most important comeback gig of all. It’s a film that sits within the genre that solidified his status as a mainstream actor. In his prime, people watched Carrey’s comedies for him and his antics alone, regardless of each film’s quality. The Mask and Ace Ventura are movies of debatable quality, but the audacity of Carrey’s performances end up shouldering their narratives.
Granted, it’s not a schtick that works all the time. Take Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, for instance. In this case, the nuances of the source material’s dark comedy feel lost in Carrey’s extreme portrayal of Count Olaf.
Nevertheless, we may get to breathe a sigh of relief that the Sonic movie couldn’t really tread such grim territory without stretching the premise too thin. There’s no sense in ignoring the clearly demarcated dichotomies in the basic Sonic narrative to make a “serious” adaptation of something so goofy (a la Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).
Already as a video game adaptation that incorporates elements of live-action and CGI, Sonic the Hedgehog doesn’t endear itself to audiences given the reputation that these movies generally have. But by pitching the film akin to Who Framed Roger Rabbit, producers ensure that the bombastic portrayals that Carrey is known for won’t be too out of place.
James Marsden — another erstwhile cinematic leading man in his own right — could very well have an unexpected career boost with Sonic the Hedgehog. As far as we’re concerned, this re-branding and embrace of nostalgia could also do wonders for Carrey.