Australian Council on Children and the Media

Sonic the Hedgehog

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Not suitable under 6; parental guidance 6-8 (frequent action violence, reckless behaviour, some alcohol use)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Sonic the Hedgehog
  • a review of Sonic the Hedgehog completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 17 February 2020.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 6 Not suitable due to frequent action violence, reckless behaviour and some alcohol use.
Children aged 6–8 Parental guidance recommended due to frequent action violence, reckless behaviour and some alcohol use.
Children aged 9 and over Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Sonic the Hedgehog
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Comedic action violence
Length 99 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Sonic the Hedgehog (voiced by Ben Schwartz), known from the iconic Sega video game series, has incredible super powers: he can run at supersonic speed, turn into a spin ball creating impact similar to a missile, and generate bolts of electricity. His powers, however, also mean that villains are after him. In order to protect him, Sonic’s guardian helps him escape from his home planet to Earth, advising him to stay hidden. Sonic finds himself in the remote Montana country town of Green Hills. For about 10 years Sonic manages to keep a low profile but he struggles with living in the shadows and feeling lonely. One night he gets particularly frustrated and accidentally releases a power surge that causes a nationwide blackout. Mystified, the US military hires notoriously crazy but ingenious scientist Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey). Dr. Robotnik soon finds out that the creature he is after is a source of incredible power so wants to capture him to revolutionise his army of drones and robots. Sonic turns to his favourite human, local police officer Tom (James Marsden), for help, and soon the unequal pair are on a road trip getting into all sorts of trouble and mischief.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Friendship; good versus evil; finding out where one belongs and finding one's place and purpose in life.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Tom shoots a sedative dart at Sonic, tranquilising him.
  • Tom punches Dr. Robotnic in the face, several times throughout the movie.
  • Dr. Robotnik sends drones after Tom and Sonic that fire bullets, fireballs, and lasers at them, with the intention of killing or at least harming them.
  • Tom and Sonic get involved in a bar fight where people fist fight, throw, and smash things. Sonic has a ‘Bucket list’ on which he ticks off, "start a bar fight".
  • There are a lot of explosions that damage cars and buildings.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Just before Sonic's escape, Sonic's guardian, a wise owl, is shot with an arrow and falls from the sky. It is uncertain what becomes of her.
  • There are a couple of occasions when Sonic appears badly hurt (he is unconscious) and is feared to have died.
  • The amount of shooting, explosions, and high-speed chasing may be overwhelming for children in this age group.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • The above-mentioned scenes are likely to scare or disturb children in this age group.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • The above-mentioned scenes are likely to scare or disturb some children in this age group.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Sega video games.
  • A voucher for Olive Garden (an Italian restaurant chain) and reference to their "never-ending pasta bowl".

Sexual references

  • None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

There is some substance use in this movie:

  • Sonic and Tom go to a biker bar where people party and drink.
  • Tom is seen drinking beer. It is not clear how many drinks he has. Shortly after he drives a car.

Coarse language

There is some mild coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Look what came out of my egg sack.
  • Lightning shone out of your butt.
  • Officer Brainfart.
  • You son of a....

In a nutshell

Likely to appeal to a family audience with children over 8, Sonic the Hedgehog is an action comedy centred around the famous Sega video game character. Jim Carrey shines as a crazy scientist / villain, creating many humorous scenes. Frequent action violence and some reckless behaviour warrants this animated movie unsuitable for children under 6 with parental guidance recommended to 8.

The main messages from this movie are that everybody needs a friend, and that everyone needs to find a place to call home.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • comradeship
  • friendship
  • helping one another
  • listening to one's heart.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • losing sight of humanity over one’s lust for power.

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