Here’s something I didn’t expect when watching Sonic the Hedgehog, a movie in which Jean-Ralphio Saperstein voices a royal blue space hedgehog who sings along to Queen, relishes in drinking shitty dive bar beer, and mimics Quicksilver’s penchant for using his speed to rearrange fight scenes so that everyone else ends up punching each other in the face while he laughs safely in the corner. What I didn’t expect was that this movie would stump so hard for the Olive Garden. SO HARD. The product placement is omnipresent! Who enabled this?! Does one of the producers own a percentage of America’s favorite casual, “uniquely Italian” chain? IT’S VERY WEIRD.
SOME SPOILERS FOR SONIC THE HEDGEHOG BELOW! YOU SHOULD READ KAYLEIGH’S REVIEW FIRST!
The film is set in the small town of Green Hills, Montana, which is basically presented as having a one-street downtown full of mom and pop shops, plus a baseball diamond, a kooky old man, an inept police force, and all the other shit that sleepy rural America is given in pop culture. (Notably: There are no racists here! Isn’t that nice? They all just accept this literal alien among them!) But somewhere in this town there must be an Olive Garden, because protagonists Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie Wachowski (Tika Sumpter) do not stop talking about it.
Apropos of nothing, Tom says to someone else of Olive Garden, “When you’re there, you’re family.” That’s an actual slogan! Marsden doesn’t even look like he’s being tortured when he says it. That’s acting, folks! And later on, after Tom and Maddie have assisted Sonic in sending Jim Carrey’s Dr. Robotnik to another planet, a military representative of the U.S. government shows up at the door of their surprisingly luxurious home, with all of its décor from Target’s Threshold and Hearth & Hand With Magnolia lines, and for their trouble offers them … a $50 gift card to the Olive Garden. Tom and Maddie don’t immediately recoil in disgust and say, “Oh wow, this is really lame!”, but instead are like, “Oh wow, we actually like this gift, but couldn’t the U.S. government have sprung for a larger gift card amount?” THEY HELPED SAVE THE WORLD, AND THEY ARE HAPPY THEY GET TO GO TO THE OLIVE GARDEN.
Please try to imagine my feelings after all this Olive Garden propaganda. THEY WERE COMPLICATED. As a kid, my family actually went to Olive Garden somewhere between “occasionally” and “semiregularly” because how do you beat unlimited salad and breadsticks?! But we went less and less often as I got older, perhaps partially because I developed a crippling mozzarella cheese addiction that I can joke about now but that was legitimately very unhealthy when coupled with how bullied and sad I was all the time, and I haven’t thought about Olive Garden in years. IN YEARS. And yet here I was after Sonic the Hedgehog, looking up their menu online. THIS IS BRAINWASHING, AND IT WORKED ON ME.
LOOK AT THESE ITEMS.
DEEP-FRIED LASAGNA BITES?! MY CHOLESTEROL IS SCREAMING.
A SIRLOIN STEAK? COVERED WITH ALFREDO SAUCE? IS THIS AUTHENTIC?! WHAT WOULD LIDIA BASTIANICH SAY???
“MEATBALL.” “PIZZA.” “BOWL.” THREE WORDS THAT WHEN PUT TOGETHER ARE ORGASMIC.
ZOODLES? NO. FUCK OFF! HOW DARE YOU. THIS BOWL OF WET VEGETABLES IS $15? YOU ARE TESTING ME, OLIVE GARDEN.
OH THANK GOD. I’M BACK. IN THE IMMORTAL WORDS OF CONAN O’BRIEN, THIS “CHOCOLATE BROWNIE LASAGNA” IS IN FACT JUST CHOCOLATE CAKE. AND
YET. THEY CAN DELIVER IT TO MY HOME, WHERE I CAN EAT IT ON THE COUCH. THIS IS NIRVANA. I HAVE ASCENDED.
Excuse me, I need to place an online order. For some Olive Garden. CURSE YOU, SONIC THE HEDGEHOG. FIFTY DOLLARS REALLY DOES NOT SEEM LIKE ENOUGH!!!! HAS ANYONE SEEN MY MOZZARELLA CHEESE?????
Image sources (in order of posting): Epk.tv/Paramount Pictures, Olive Garden