Ben Schwartz Snuck A Part Of His Parks & Rec Past Into Sonic The Hedgehog 2

The video game curse is dead and buried, at least if you look at the "Sonic the Hedgehog" movies. The first one was a big hit, even if its theatrical run was cut short by the ongoing pandemic, and the sequel is breaking box office records, quickly rising through the ranks of the highest grossing video game adaptations and a cinematic universe is in the works.

If the first "Sonic" movie was more of a fun road trip movie about an alien orphan kid looking for a family, then "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" reimagines the blue hedgehog as a superhero turned leader of a team of anthropomorphic animals using power ups to stop an insane arch-nemesis and save the worl.

Indeed, Ben Schwartz ups the angst in his performance as the Blue Blur in the sequel, turning the iconic character from a lonely kid to an edgy teenager. A big part of the appeal of the film is Schwartz's energetic performance as Sonic, as he gives the titular hedgehog an almost improvised-like vibe, which resulted in Schwartz sneaking in a reference to one of his most known roles from TV.

'His taste is mostly '90s, and then Parks and Recreation'

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Schwartz said he tried to focus his pop culture references in "Sonic the Hedgehog" to the 1990s, because we see the character reading comics and using devices from around that era in his little cave, like tape decks and CD players. Schwartz said:

"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."

This exception is very much worth it. It comes during a scene where Sonic and James Marsden's Tom Wachowski's dog are watching a movie and Sonic is talking over it. Schwartz explained:

"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.'"

Jean-Ralphio is one of the best supporting characters in a show full of fantastic supporting characters in the beloved NBC mockumentary series starring Amy Poehler. It's the kind of scene-stealing character who could easily get his own spin-off show, even if "Parks and Recreation" creator Michael Schur disagreed. Jean-Ralphip is quite similar to Sonic in a way, as both characters are fun to watch in small chunks, but the longer you watch them, their hyperactive, constantly talking, high-pitched selves become a litle annoying. If anything, that makes the reference even better.

"Sonic the Hedgehog 2" is playing in theaters now.