Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog has taken the top spot at the box office for the second weekend in a row.
It is a win of sorts for Jim Carrey, who makes a comeback in a leading role as the movie’s villain, Dr. Robotnik. But unfortunately for Carrey, who has built a second career as a vociferous critic of President Donald Trump, Sonic is a deeply conservative film — which may explain its success.
First of all, the (human) hero of the film is a small-town police officer, Tom Wachowski, played by James Marsden. The villain is a Deep State agent who uses high-tech drones and surveillance technology and operates above the law in his quest to capture Sonic, a traveler from another dimension whose powers are deemed a national security threat.
Dr. Robotnik is almost a parody of the American elite, constantly sneering at the plebeians with whom he must deal, presuming his intellectual pedigree entitles him to rule. One almost expects him to refer to them as “deplorables.” Carrey may have contempt for Trump and his supporters in real life but on screen, he plays a caricature of himself — and portrays the type of villain who fits perfectly into the MAGA movement’s populist narrative.
The action is set in the fictional rural Idaho town of Green Hills, whose inhabitants are portrayed, for the most part, as ordinary, decent, and tolerant people — if a bit boring. The fact that the hero happens to have an interracial marriage, with veterinarian Dr. Maddie Wachowski (Tika Sumpter), plays no role at all, except — possibly — for Dr. Sumpter’s urbane sister, who disapproves of the marriage for reasons that are never quite made clear. But the town simply overlooks race.
Ultimately, what is most conservative about the film is that the hero, Wachowski, chooses his life in small-town America over a new career opportunity in San Francisco. Through saving Sonic the Hedgehog, he comes to realize that the ordinary things he does for people in his town are more precious than the high drama of police life in the big city.
These are fundamentally conservative themes. Not that the movie is partisan at all: Sonic is basically an entertaining and well-acted movie, with successful integration of computer animation and live action. Parents will enjoy it with their children — if for no other reason than nostalgia for 1990s-era video games.
But what will likely sustain the film’s successful box office run is word-of-mouth, from mom to mom and dad to dad, letting each other know that this is a “safe” movie — one that is not politically preachy in the slightest, but which reaffirms classic American values that Hollywood wishes it did not have to embrace to succeed.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.