‘Ugly Sonic’ Redeemed, Thanks to ‘Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers’

“I’m trying to celebrate him, you know?,” director Akiva Schaffer told IndieWire about the original, discarded design for the star of "Sonic the Hedgehog."
John Mulaney, Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samberg, and Ugly Sonic of Chip n Dale: Rescue Rangers
John Mulaney, Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samberg at the "Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers" premiere; Ugly Sonic in "Chip 'n Dale"
Getty, courtesy of Disney; screengrab

At last, a creature scorned in the eyes of the internet has his chance to go fast.

Prominent among the animated cameos and Easter eggs packed into Disney+’s “Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers” is an appearance from Sonic the Hedgehog. But not the electric-blue Sega mascot as filmgoers have gotten to know him in two feature-length outings — this is the so-called “Ugly Sonic,” the version of the character cast aside after a negative backlash greeted the original trailer for the 2020 video-game adaptation starring Ben Schwartz, James Marsden, and Jim Carrey.

“Chip ’n Dale” director Akiva Schaffer told IndieWire that Ugly Sonic’s inclusion in the film came from a place of appreciation.

“I’m trying to celebrate him, you know?” he said. “I have a 9-year-old and an 11-year-old, and there’s nothing they’re more excited for than ‘Sonic 2.’ I’ve seen that first ‘Sonic’ so many times.”

While Ugly Sonic’s sleepy eyes and disturbingly human-like teeth have been lovingly recreated for “Chip ’n Dale,” sharp-eared viewers will notice that he isn’t voiced by Schwartz. “It’s a different character,” Schaffer said — one played by a comedic actor with a long-standing connection to the Lonely Island member: “I Think You Should Leave” star and fellow “Saturday Night Live” alum Tim Robinson.

“You know I’m a big Tim head,” Schaffer said. “I direct a lot of [‘I Think You Should Leave’] and I’m part of it with [Robinson and co-creator Zach Kanin], but it started cause I’m a fan of what they do and was like, ‘You guys need a sketch show.’”

A few sketches from the series’ recently announced third season have already reached Schaffer. “They’re hilarious, as always,” he said. “I remain a fan. So when I get new scripts, I’m as excited as anybody else.”

“They write it next door to the room I’m in,” Schaffer said. “They don’t get in until late though. Cause they’re still on an ‘SNL’ schedule. Somehow, even though they have kids, they stay up late, they come in late. I’m always shocked. They stay out late. I’m in bed. I don’t understand it.”

“Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers” is now streaming on Disney+. It is not, as stars John Mulaney and Andy Samberg repeatedly emphasized while guest-hosting “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” earlier this week, playing in theaters.

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