Hop Directed by: Tim Hill Cast: Russell Brand, James Marsden, Hugh Laurie, Hank Azaria, Chelsea Handler Running Time: 1 hr 35 mins Rating: PG Release Date: April 1, 2011
PLOT: A rebellious rabbit (Brand) next in line to become the new Easter Bunny leaves his home of Easter Island to become a drummer in Los Angeles. Wandering around the city, he meets Frank, a man (Marsden) who needs to find a job.
WHO'S IT FOR?: Parents who don’t care much about themselves, and want their candy-worshipping children to think Easter is about a pagan icon with a terrible, terrible diet.
EXPECTATIONS: I had a few curiosities before bounding into Hop: “Is this just a regular ol’ talkin’ bunny, or is it going to be the Easter Bunny? What will Easter mean to this movie? Is there any potential for a horror spin-off ala Silent Night: Deadly Night?”
Russell Brand as E.B: Stealing too many quirks from Bugs Bunny, E.B is a brat of a rabbit who’s given no comedic redemption from rockstar comedian Russell Brand. E.B wanders around a world in which some people care that he’s a talking rabbit with a 13-year-olds choice of fashion, while others don’t. A gag involving E.B "pooping candy" does not make him any more endearing. Score: 2
James Marsden as Fred O'Hare: There’s wacky, and then there’s just stupid. Unfortunately, Marsden has fallen from his perch of being an amusing goofball from films like Enchanted into the abyss of being a laughless lead, who does even worse when working alongside a co-star who wasn’t physically on set. Because he’s not sure how to react to something that is “zany,” Marsden repeats the same weak expression, which has his eyes opening wide while his mouth opens wide. It’s a “zoinks!” face that takes us out of the world of Hop, and reminds us constantly that E.B isn’t real. Score: 2
Rest of Cast: Whether he's trying to hide or is actually working overtime, Hugh Laurie is indiscernible as E.B's father, the reigning Easter Bunny. Hank Azaria adds some ethnicity to his "Moe" voice for a boring stint as a rebellious chick named Carlos who will do anything to be the next Easter Bunny. Someone gave Chelsea Handler a throwaway job, so she's in the movie for a couple of seconds, but her shocking lack of charisma makes her hard to recognize. Score: 3
TALKING: The dialogue is very obvious, with the exception of a few lines that sound like unscripted Russell Brandisms. (For example: “Save the baby medicine, for when you run over a baby.”) There are a couple of references to the Easter Bunny’s similar existence of Santa Claus, which don't sound like a parody of St. Nick, but more so like identity theft. Thankfully, Hop is light on the bunny puns. Score: 3
SIGHTS: Animated characters have looked better in live-action environments (Yogi Bear looked more believable, for example). Hop’s most special visual element might be E.B’s drumming, which is spot-on with the audio of the moment. Less interesting are E.B’s animated co-stars, which include girl bunnies with pink hats and an attitude and little chicks ... with an attitude. Score: 4
SOUNDS: Hop has terrible taste in music. When E.B rocks out on his obnoxious little drumset, it’s not to songs that would best put this passion for percussion to good use - it’s dinky theme songs of weak angst like Good Charlotte’s “The Anthem.” Later, when E.B auditions for a talent contest, he opts not to use a drum-specific song, but instead uses Taio Cruz’s miserable single, “Dynamite.” This leads me to think two things: E.B should have his iTunes account taken away from him, and he actually sucks at drumming. Score: 2
BEST SCENE: After slamming into E.B’s face with his Volvo, Marsden’s character attempts to put the rabbit out of its misery by crushing its head with a rock. This isn’t the best scene in the movie because E.B lives on after this moment, but my imagination provided much better alternatives.
ENDING: "Hmm … this looks suspiciously like the ending to The Santa Clause." And for those who couldn’t wait to see more strangely racist comedy, there’s a ten second bit that takes place in China at the end of the credits.
QUESTIONS: How old is “Dynamite”? Why does E.B have to play that song for his audition, and not something actually impressive? Is E.B named like that to make it very easy on Hop’s audience as to who the next Easter Bunny is going to be? And where’s the Sister I usually see at screenings of religiously centered movies? After all, this movie is about Easter, right?
REWATCHABILITY: No thanks. I’m pretty sure even kids would be bored by this one on a second round. In the first round, they’ll probably just be dreaming about the concession stand.
Times are tough. Even (probably) ex-stoners like Fred O'Hare are caught up in the crunchiness of our times, ("It's not my fault the company downsized," he says at the family dinner table). So to save costs for the studio on a movie like Hop, why even bother with animation? Why don't you just send a camera around a candy shop? Call it Candy: The Movie. Because really, no one truly cares about the Easter Bunny. There's a reason why the concept of "Easter" cheer doesn't exist. We just want the goods from the bunny, and nothing else. We don't want his overstaying company, and we don't want an entire movie about him either.
Okay, all snarkiness aside, I'll give it to Hop - it's certainly a more enjoyable holiday movie than The Passion of the Christ. However, when it comes to rabbit characters, I'll take "Harvey" instead, from the 1950 film with James Stewart of that title. That furry sidekick was invisible, it didn't play the drums, and for the love of Easter's real hero, didn't sh*t jellybeans.
FINAL SCORE: 3/10