Details: United States, English
Synopsis: On the eve of taking over the family business, E.B., the teenage son of the Easter Bunny, leaves for Hollywood in pursuit of his dream of becoming a drummer. He encounters Fred (James Marsden), an out-of-work slacker with his own lofty goals, who accidentally hits E.B. with his car. Feigning injury, E.B. manipulates Fred into providing him shelter, and Fred finds himself with the world’s worst houseguest.
Jive bunny has no bounce.
You know that sense of childlike wonder you experience when you tear away the shiny foil and bite into a huge milk chocolate egg… only it turns out to be carob? Well, Hop is a carob egg.
Grabbing then gagging motor-mouth English comic Russell Brand as the voice of the slacker bunny EB is just one of the many misfires made by director Tim Hill and producer Christopher Meledandri’s usually reliable production company, Illumination Entertainment (Ice Age, 2002; Robots, 2005; Despicable Me, 2010).
The most bewildering sequence in a film of many occurs when EB, a frustrated drummer, stumbles across a sound studio full of aged, blind African-American bluesmen and they begin to jam. Such ‘bunny-out-of-water’ moments don’t happen nearly as much as you would think given an upright-walking, clothed, talking rabbit living in Los Angeles is at the centre of the charmless screenplay of Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio and Brian Lynch. (It took three people to write this?)
EB has run away to the West Coast from Easter Island, where his father (voiced by Hugh Laurie) has been hoping the rascally rabbit will take over the family’s egg-delivering traditions. But EB wants to play drums and see the world. He’s just like Fred O’Hare (the all-grinning ham, James Marsden), the human equivalent of the long-eared tearaway and a directionless goof who drifts through life sponging off his parents (the once-watchable Elizabeth Perkins, and Gary Cole).
The filmmakers try to wring conflict out of their burgeoning friendship, but Fred and EB are mirror images of each other in all but the physical sense and none of their endless bickering rings true. This just leaves the film with listless set-ups and pratfalls, pointless cameos (low-renters like comedian Chelsea Handler, David Hasselhoff, Brand himself, and the voice of Hugh Hefner), and a parade of cutesy, derivative animal characters. (The baby-chicken army is self-plagiarised from Despicable Me’s ‘minion’ characters.)
Those who claim that significant religious calendar dates have been corrupted by greed and crass commerciality will feel vindicated by this insulting Easter programmer.
In a witless script oozing corporate manipulation, the most cynical construct of all may be the lady bunny covert-ops team known as the ‘Pink Berets’. Charged with finding and returning EB to his island home, they are treated with gross disrespect by Hill and his writers – they don’t speak, can’t tell the difference between a boiling turkey and a boiling rabbit and aren’t afforded any form of redemptive characteristics. In a story brimming with male characters, one could rightly suggest that these super-girl bunnies only exist to woo under-five princesses away from other pink distractions. Such contempt for the young target audience is evident throughout and critics who claim the under 10s will lap up the colour and noise are showing the same arrogant disregard for the increasingly savvy toddlers of today as the filmmakers.
In an era when animated films routinely deliver above-average artistry and entertainment value for all ages, the list of Hop’s liabilities seems endless: the inconsistent sense of EB’s scale (one minute he fits into a small box; next scene, his head fills a car door window); the pilfering of Christmas iconography (Santa, not the Easter Bunny, drives a sleigh); the not-always-convincing blend of live-action and animation (23-year-old Who Framed Roger Rabbit? runs rings around it); the notion that a primary school band can rip into an impromptu, seamless version of The Strangeloves’ ‘I Want Candy’ so that Fred and EB can raise the roof… To list the film’s other innumerable shortcomings would require far more effort than anyone else involved with Hop has displayed (barring, perhaps, Universal’s marketing team).
Prior to seeing Hop, one might wonder why no major film has been made about such a popular holiday character as the Easter Bunny; coming out of it, the answer is painfully obvious.
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