The new film Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers focuses on its titular chipmunk duo — who, FYI, are friends and not brothers. But the film is chock-full of cameos from other animated stars… and one animated atrocity. Yes, Ugly Sonic, the rejected Sonic design from the 2020 movie Sonic the Hedgehog, rears his much-maligned head in the Disney+ film, which started streaming on Friday, May 20.
In an interview with Polygon, Chip ’n Dale director Akiva Schaffer pleaded the fifth about what it took to license the Ugly Sonic, but he did say the character was a highlight of the film for him. “It’s one of my favorite [cameos in the film],” he said. “I can speak to that. It’s one of my favorite things in the movie. And I’m very excited for people to see it.”
Ugly Sonic is a reference to the original Sonic design for ‘Sonic the Hedgehog.’
Ugly Sonic’s appearance in Chip ’n Dale actually marks the screen debut for that that version of the hedgehog character, since he was redesigned before Sonic the Hedgehog hit theaters. Animators literally went back to the drawing board after fans criticized the first trailer for that film, objecting to Sonic’s beady eyes, his uncovered hands, and his human-like teeth.
The backlash was so severe that Paramount delayed Sonic the Hedgehog by three months so that animators could create a new design for the character, one that hewed closer to the original cartoon. The new and improved Sonic featured wider eyes, white gloves, and — most importantly — less pronounced teeth. The redesign paid off: The first Sonic film earned more than $319 million globally and spawned a sequel.
The character claims he’s “in on the joke” in ‘Chip ’n Dale.”
In Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers, Dale (voiced by Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Andy Samberg) meets Ugly Sonic (voiced by I Think You Should Leave star Tim Robinson) at a convention for washed-up animation characters, as Entertainment Weekly reports. The character mans a booth with a banner reading “Ugly Sonic, the One and Only!” and imagines fans will warm up to him.
“They’ll like me for who I am,” Ugly Sonic tells Dale (who, like the rest of us, can’t stop looking at the characters mouth). “Not like last time, when the Internet got one look at my human teeth and burned the place down.”
And when a pair of autograph-seekers get Ugly Sonic’s signature and walk away snickering, Ugly Sonic says, “Oh, they’re laughing at me. You can’t hurt my feelings if I’m in on the joke!”
Ugly Sonic is a part of this “celebration of animation.”
Even though Chip ’n Dale is a Disney film, Akiva was dead set on getting animated characters from other studios. “It was super-important to me to get a bunch of third-party cartoons, because if this is going to be some sort of a celebration of animation, it can’t just be a celebration of Disney animation,” he told Polygon. “You don’t want it to feel like an ad for Disney Plus.”
He also gave big props to the Disney lawyers who got clearance for the cameos. “It’s easy for me to go, like, Oh, it would be cool if My Little Pony was in the movie, and they’re, like, running in the hallways […] but then [the lawyers] have to go call Mattel and pitch them the movie, and tell them it’s not making fun of [the characters], and then I have to get on, and then blah, blah, blah. So it was a process. But you know, it makes [the movie] so much better.”