Universal // 2011 // 96 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // March 21st, 2012
Candy, chicks and rock n'roll.
"I'm just saying, I am a bunny and I am incredibly sexy."
E.B. (voiced by Russell Brand, Get Him to the Greek) is next in line to be one of the world's most powerful and beloved figures: The Easter Bunny. Alas, E.B. has little interest in such an intimidating role. He'd rather just play the drums all day long. So, E.B. runs away from home, takes up residence with a human slacker named Fred O'Hare (James Marsden, Enchanted) and determines to win a talent competition being judged by David Hasselhoff (Baywatch).
Meanwhile, Fred's going through his own series of personal issues. His father (Gary Cole, A Simple Plan) and mother (Elizabeth Perkins, Weeds) have been urging him to get a job, but he'd prefer to laze around the house and play video games. Fortunately, E.B. and Fred might just manage to motivate each other in ways that neither of them really expect.
The attempts to properly secularize Easter have been mixed, to say the least. Sure, it's sort of a spring celebration, but the proper details are so hazy, aren't they? Who is the Easter Bunny, exactly, and what are his responsibilities? The Rankin/Bass special The First Easter Rabbit found it necessary to call upon the mighty iconic power of Santa Claus to give their Easter story a boost, delivering an amusingly bizarre tale in which Santa helped the Easter Bunny fight off an evil snow wizard. Illumination Entertainment's Hop employs Santa's help in an entirely different way: the movie shamelessly co-opts well-established secular Christmas traditions and smothers them in eggs and jelly beans.
To understand how Hop's version of Easter works, simply make the following substitutions in your mind.
Santa Claus = The Easter Bunny
The North Pole = Easter Island
Toy Manufacturing Plant = Candy Manufacturing Plant
Santa's Elves = The Easter Bunny's Fluffy Yellow Chicks
A Flying Sleigh Filled with Toys = A Flying Carriage Filled with Easter Baskets
Santa's Reindeer = The Easter Bunny's Fluffy Yellow Chicks
You get the idea. There still isn't a proper, widely accepted secular Easter story, so rather than risk alienating an audience by inventing a new one, why not just use the details of countless Christmas-themed box office hits? Clearly drawing inspiration from many "an ordinary schmuck must now get it together and save Christmas" movies (The Santa Clause, Fred Claus), Hop doubles down and delivers stories about two ordinary schmucks being forced to get it together and save Easter (granted, one of those schmucks poops jelly beans, but he's still pretty unspectacular by established Easter Bunny standards).
Hop is such a tedious viewing experience. Sure, the fact that the central plot is borrowed from countless other movies doesn't help, nor does the fact that the movie indulges in the usual supply of pandering potty jokes. But there's so little which feels fresh. The "pink berets" (a group of deadly female rabbits) are simply less entertaining versions of the penguins from Madagascar. The villainous chick voiced by Hank Azaria is a dull amalgam of other animated baddies. The use of "I Want Candy" during a pair of key scenes is predictably tedious. The tongue-in-cheek cameo by David Hasselhoff as himself was a lot more fun in The Spongebob Squarepants Movie (speaking of which, does The Hoff play anything other than a tongue-in-cheek version of himself these days?). Watching the movie is akin to munching on stale Peeps.
The actors do what they can with the material, but it's hard to survive in a cinematic climate like this. James Marsden continues to cement his status as the new Brendan Fraser, gamely mugging his way through one embarrassing moment after another. Furry Vengeance 2, you have your new leading man. Old pros like Gary Cole and Elizabeth Perkins handle their one-note roles with ease, while Russell Brand, Hank Azaria and Hugh Laurie deliver more or less what's expected of them in the vocal department. Oh, and because is a children's movie, we're treated to cameos from pre-teen idols like Chelsea Handler and Hugh Hefner.
Hop (Blu-ray) has received a perfectly satisfactory 1080p/1.85:1 transfer. The scenes which blend live action and animation tend to struggle a bit at times, as there's an inconsistent measure of grain which pops up during these sequences. It's not too distracting, but it's worth noting. More problematic is the film's actual visual design, which adopts the familiar family-movie approach of employing a host of garish, eye-popping colors which make the film feel a little like being slapped in the face by a clown. Detail is strong throughout despite a handful of softer moments and black levels are impressively deep. The DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio track gets the job done well enough, offering some fairly frantic work during the action sequences and really kicking into gear during the pop selections sprinkled throughout the film. Dialogue is robust and clear throughout. It's not a showcase track, but it's solid from start to finish.
As you might expect, supplements are geared towards the kiddies. Things kick off with a new short film called "Phil's Dance Party" (which is exactly as disposable as it sounds) and a pair of similarly insubstantial U-Control features: "Pink Beret Tracker" (which provides info on the locations used in the film) and "Hop Tweets" (which features cutesy "tweets" courtesy of E.B. throughout the movie). You also get a boatload of skippable featurettes, none of which run longer than 4 minutes: "The Candy Factory," "E.B.," "Fred," "The Easter Bunny," "Carlos and Phil," "Sam," "All Access with Cody Simpson," "Russell Brand: Being the Bunny," "Russell Brand's Kid Crack Ups," "Carlos on Carlos: The Premiere According to Carlos," "Emotion in Motion: The Dance of Kid Daurio" and "Post Coup Commentary: Carlos and Phil Tell All." You also get a trio of interactive games ("Drum Along," "Pink Beret Skill Tester" and "E.B.'s Candy Challenge"), a DVD Copy and a Digital Copy. Kids might have fun digging through the stuff, but there's nothing of value for older viewers. Of course, the same can be said of the film itself.
I'd be lying if I told you that Hop is entirely free of chuckle-inducing moments. A handful of Russell Brand's verbal riffs are pretty entertaining, and manage to provide welcome (if all-too-fleeting) moments of spark to this lackluster production. That said, even Brand's voice work is a whole lot less ambitious and enjoyable than his unrecognizable turn in Illumination's vastly superior Despicable Me.
Like the majority of cinematic rip-offs, Hop isn't as good as its numerous inspirations. Considering that most of those holiday-themed inspirations aren't that good to begin with, you're left with a pretty unsatisfying viewing experience. Don't add this rotten egg to your youngster's Easter basket.
Review content copyright © 2012 Clark Douglas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS 5.1 Surround (French)
* DTS 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Short Film
* Interactive Game
* DVD Copy
* Digital Copy
* Official Site