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Things Only Adults Noticed In Sonic The Hedgehog 2

It was clear from the opening minutes of the original "Sonic the Hedgehog" movie that it had ambitions to become not only a film franchise, but possibly the most effective game-to-film translation yet from the embattled genre. Now, with "Sonic the Hedgehog 2," returning director Joel Fowler is further honing those ambitions, yielding a sequel that adds more characters, more game-like graphics and, of course ... more speed.

"Sonic 2" brings along the little blue guy's BFF Miles "Tails" Prower (voiced by Colleen O'Shaughnessey) and red rival Knuckles the Echidna (Idris Elba) for the adventure. The entire affair is a zany, kid-friendly action flick, but that doesn't mean there aren't some jokes snuck in there for adults, from "Magic Mike" and "Fast the Furious" references to gags about old videogames.

If you like the games, you'll love the movies. And if you're of voting age, you'll appreciate them all the more. Below, moments in "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" only noticeable by adults.

The opening scene references Cast Away

The opening of "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" picks up a handful of months after the first movie ends. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) has learned to make coffee from fungi and has largely (if miserably) adapted to his new reality, exiled on the Mushroom Planet. To keep himself company as a castaway on this strange land, Robotnik has made a friend for himself that is reminiscent of Wilson from the 2000 Tom Hanks movie "Cast Away." 

In that film, a lonely FedEx delivery man played by Hanks spoke to the volleyball (nicknamed Wilson, both a brand-appropriate name and an in-joke since the actor's real-life wife is Rita Wilson), even going so far as to paint a face on it. The Robert Zemeckis film was a huge hit not only at the box office, but also earned the actor an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe award.

In the opening of "Sonic the Hedgehog 2," as the audience witnesses a funny Rube Goldberg machine the eccentric madman has designed, you can see Robotnik's quasi-Wilson assisting. 

The Mean Bean Cafe refers to a Sonic spin-off game

When we first see Robotnik's lackey Agent Stone (Lee Majdoub) in "Sonic the Hedgehog 2," he is cranking out cappuccinos at a coffee shop named the Mean Bean Cafe. The name is a reference to an old "Sonic the Hedgehog" spin-off game called "Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine." Later, the Mean Bean will become the home base of Robotnik and Stone's evil efforts, furthering the connection.

Essentially a "Tetris"/"Dr. Mario" ripoff, "Mean Bean" was first released on Sega Genesis in 1993. A brightly-colored falling block game where you must match up beans in groups to clear the board, it was an almost direction translation to English of the Japanese game "Puyo Puyo," replacing the original designs with "Sonic" characters.

The reference is a fun little nod towards a Sega deep cut. When Stone switches the coffee shop over to an evil layer, he replaces its health department record to an "F-" card, which may or may not also reference the average user rating of the largely forgotten game. But this much is true: Stone's lattes look delicious.

Tails is voiced by a woman

From Bart Simpson to Timmy Turner, sometimes the best way to stick the landing on an energetic pre-teen boy is by using a grown-up woman to provide his voice. That's the case with Sonic's sidekick Tails, as the two-tailed fox is brought to life by veteran voice actress O'Shaughnessey.

The industry vet, who began her career in the early '90s via series like "Sailor Moon" and "Digimon," does a convincing job bringing the endearing character to life. That won't be surprising to older fans who have been following the "Sonic" video games for years; O'Shaughnessey has been voicing Tails in various games for almost a decade now.

O'Shaughnessey began voicing Tails in "Sonic" games in 2014, with her first appearances as the fox coming in "Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal" for the DS and "Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric," both released in November 2014. She has since voiced Tails in over a dozen other "Sonic" games, as well as the 85 episode "Sonic Boom" TV series.

Agent Stone longs to be more than just a henchman

Not every adult-targeted "Sonic 2" joke refers to an old video game or movie. Kids might find themselves wondering why Agent Stone is so fiercely loyal to an off-his-rocker madman who frequently puts him in painful situations. Adults, well, they might have their suspicions.

The Robotnik-Stone relationship has tons of suggestive subtext, particularly at the beginning of the film when the two have been separated for some time and Stone is methodically fashioning images of the duo into latte foam (complete with hearts). He seems to be the Smithers to Robotnik's Mr. Burns, and much like that "Simpsons" character, will endure any humiliation if it means he can remain in the orbit of his apparent crush.

The suggestion that Stone is into Eggman as more than just a boss is shown in multiple scenes, like one where we see him playing virtual dress up with Robotnik on his computer. Stone's desire to see his boss happy despite the way Robotnik treats him as disposable reinforces that this desire is more than simply professional. 

Tom sets up Sonic's journey to find friends

Early in the movie, Tom (James Marsden) is concerned about Sonic's well being. After settling into Green Hills following the events of the first "Sonic the Hedgehog" movie, the blue speed demon has been having trouble finding his calling; a wannabe superhero, the hedgehog goes around bungling crimes in progress, sometimes saving the day but (as we see in Seattle) often in the most expensive, ineffective ways possible.  

In an attempt to be the hero he thinks everyone needs him to be, Sonic is finding himself rudderless. But Tom tells Sonic that his time will come, that fate will tell him, rather than him making the moment happen. This goes on to be one of the relevant themes of the movie and what motivates its main character.

Tom is concerned that Sonic needs to find friends and peers that are more like him, which ends up happening when Tails and Knuckles enter the story. It is only by the end of the movie that we see this journey completed, though. Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles have formed bonds and matured together for a greater purpose — and as the film teases a new threat for "Sonic the Hedgehog 3," they stand united to battle it.

In real life, echidnas live in Australia and New Guinea

Although the lore in the "Sonic" movie universe frequently departs from the video games, often the details aren't made crystal clear. Which is why in the movies, audiences see that Sonic was raised by a clan of great owls from a far-away dimension. In "Sonic the Hedgehog 2," it is revealed that the owls (in particular, Sonic's maternal figure Longclaw) are the rivals of the Echidna clan that Knuckles was born into, making Sonic and Knuckles sworn enemies by birth.

In reality, both of these animals exist — here on Earth. While hedgehogs and echidnas may look similar to the untrained eye (they both have spikes to protect from predators, are about the same size and are both mammals), they are quite different creatures. An echidna has a thinner, longer muzzle and sharper quills, a hedgehog has smaller feet, and an echidna (pictured above) wields long toenails.

Named for a Greek mythological half-monster character, echidnas can be found in New Guinea and mainland Australia, along with Tasmania — as far we know, they are not engaged in conflict in some wild space dimension. One of only two mammals that lays eggs, (the other being the platypus), long-beaked echidnas are estimated to have experienced a population decline of at least 80 percent since the 1960s, although short-beaked echidna are common and well protected throughout Australia. 

Tom switches the rings

James Marsden's Tom (aka the Donut Lord), such a major part of the first film, is largely absent from the first half of Sonic's adventure in the sequel. This time around, he and his wife Maddie (Tika Sumpter) are in Hawaii for her sister Rachel's (Natasha Rothwell) wedding. 

As Sonic is home alone, taking bubble baths with the dog and making skate ramps in the living room, the two storylines will eventually converge when Tom interrupts the wedding after a video call rom Sonic — who is acting very on-brand, snowboarding frantically ahead of an oncoming avalanche and a slew of Dr. Robotnik's evil drones. When Tom left for Hawaii, Sonic gave him a magic ring so he could later teleport home at the end of his vacation; as it turns out, Sonic needs him to use that ring now.

Unfortunately for the film's main duo during their moment of need, Tom is in possession of a normal, ordinary Earth ring. Sharp-eyed fans will know the reason behind this. Earlier in the film, Tom was playing around with the flower girl, pretending to pull one of the ceremonial rings from behind her ear. It is at this point that Tom accidentally switches his magic ring for the ceremonial one.

Knuckles should never have trusted Robotnik

The main thrust of the villain plot line in "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" centers around a somewhat unbelievable team up between the Dr. Robotnik and Knuckles the red-haired Echidna. Knuckles has a life-long rivalry against the Eagle clan that raised Sonic, and therefore has a grudge against the blue speed ball. The same sense of duty that leads Knuckles to despise Sonic without even getting to know him drives the red spike ball to seek the Master Emerald, the source of power Robotnik seeks for evil means.

Robotnik offers Knuckles a deal that appears simple on the surface, but (certainly adult) audiences can likely predict the inevitable betrayal to come. Throughout the movie, Robotnik gives many indicators that he is not to be trusted, all of them apparently flying over the head of Knuckles, too blinded by vengeance to pick up on his shady collaborator. 

Ultimately this gives Knuckles an edge, making him a formidable villain for Sonic, and then eventually a powerful friend. At the end of "Sonic 2," Knuckles and Sonic look like they are destined to become a powerful team.