‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2’ star explains the ‘Parks and Rec’ joke


Sonic the Hedgehog 2 has blasted into cinemas, with Ben Schwartz voicing the titular little blue speedster. Schwartz brings a wealth of comedic talent and voice-over experience to the role, so much so that fans of the actor’s prior work may hear a reference to a previous character he played on the comedy show Parks and Recreation.

Viewers of the mockumentary series will definitely remember Schwartz’s cocky and immature Jean-Ralphio, friend of Tom Haverford, and self-appointed “baller” who rubs almost everyone up the wrong way with his cheesy pick-up lines and annoying use of slang and rap. Schwartz discussed some of his character choices for Sonic the Hedgehog 2 with Entertainment Weekly, talking about how he referenced the ’90s a lot and also how he managed to get just a sliver of Jean-Ralphio into the film:

“In the first movie, you see him in his cave, and he is reading comic books, and all the things around him are from like the ’90s: A tape deck, a CD player. So a lot of my references that I try to do, you’ll see a lot of quotes from movies that came out in the 90s, although there is a specific reference to a television show that I’m in, in this new movie, which got through the cut.”

The ’90s references pay homage to the beginnings of the Sonic franchise, which started in 1991, but director Jeff Fowler also wanted to include a small piece of the actor’s own history. Yes, the bit that made it into the final cut, was Jean-Ralphio’s rather obnoxious way of singing ‘the woooorst.’ Schwartz went on to discuss the decision to add it to the movie, saying:

“There’s this scene where Sonic and the dog are watching a movie, and he’s talking about it, so I did like a hundred alternate takes for all these different movies that we were trying to get the rights to, and we weren’t quite sure what was gonna be there. But then [director] Jeff Fowler and [producer] Toby Ascher suggested, what if we just did Jean-Ralphio’s ‘the wooorst’? Which means that Jean-Ralphio is canon in the Sonic universe, which is very exciting for me. His taste is mostly ’90s, and then Parks and Recreation.”

The first Sonic the Hedgehog film was a risk for Paramount, especially after all the misgivings on social media platforms regarding the blue hedgehog’s original design, but luckily the film did well, ending up in third at the domestic box office that year (it was the start of the pandemic so that also factors in there). Sonic the Hedgehog 2 dives further into the lore of the game, bringing in characters Miles “Tails” Prower, voiced by Colleen O’Shaughnessey, and Knuckles the Echidna, voiced by Idris Elba, with Jim Carrey’s Doctor Robotnik also returning as the villain.

You can watch Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in theatres now.