'Hop' isn't as bad as a rotten egg, but it's close

April 04, 2011|By BOB GARVER | Special to The Herald-Mail
  • In this film publicity image released by Universal Pictures, the character E.B., voiced by Russell Brand, left, and James Marsden are shown in a scene from "Hop.
Associated Press

Has the world ever decided on what the Easter Bunny does exactly?

We all know that Santa Claus has a specific function and an elaborate backstory, but the Easter Bunny is little more than a mascot for a holiday that falls on a Sunday and therefore does not automatically get kids out of school.

 In fact, you rarely hear about him unless he's mentioned alongside Santa and a leprechaun on a list of ridiculous holiday characters. Now along comes "Hop," a film where the Easter Bunny is finally center stage ready to introduce the audience to a world all his own.  

According to "Hop," the Easter Bunny spends all year supervising workers in a factory until one special night where he rides a sleigh to deliver goodies to the children of the world. How imaginative. The Bunny lives on Easter Island (of course), the sleigh is shaped like a big egg (of course), and the factory makes candy (of course), including jelly beans (of course), marshmallow chicks (of course), and Hershey's Kisses (surprising —  I thought those were made five minutes from the Hershey Cocoaplex where I saw the film). No mention is ever made of hiding or searching for Easter eggs, an opportunity wasted by the film.  

According to the film, there has been a proud lineage of official Easter Bunnies throughout the ages. The current Easter Bunny (Hugh Laurie) is getting on in years and is ready to pass the title to his son E.B. (Russell Brand).

 But E.B. is a slacker and isn't ready for the responsibility. He doesn't even know if he wants to be the Easter Bunny. At the moment, he's leaning toward becoming a drummer.  Tired of the pressure from his father, he runs away to Hollywood. This is bad timing because Easter is right around the corner and a power-hungry chick (Hank Azaria) wants the Easter Bunny title for himself.

In Hollywood lives another slacker, a human named Fred (James Marsden). Fred knows he needs to get a job, but there aren't any jobs he likes. His parents push him out of their house, but his sister gets him a sweet gig housesitting for her boss.  ‘

Driving over to his temporary digs, he accidentally runs into E.B. The two form an uneasy bond even though Fred is a lazy live-action human and E.B. is a flamboyant cartoon rabbit.  

The bond may be uneasy for the characters, but it's even more uneasy for us. Marsden and Brand have nowhere near the chemistry needed for their banter to come off naturally.  And don't tell me I should be forgiving just because the actors weren't in the same room together.

 I remember the seamless relationship Bob Hoskins had with his animated costars in 1988's "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?"  Plenty of other actors have achieved excellent performances despite challenges with special effects, I just use that example because of the species involved.  

There are other problems with "Hop," mostly involving the script. Details and subplots are dropped without warning and most of the jokes are outright painful. The best thing I can say about the film is that Russell Brand in voiceover sometimes rises above the material and gets more laughs than his dialogue deserves. Brand is funny after all. He has to be.  Katy Perry didn't marry him for his looks.  

Because "Hop" is the first and only Easter Bunny movie, it is by default the best and definitive Easter Bunny movie. This means that it will be played on television annually and kids will regard watching it as a sort of cultural tradition.

I don't want to put up with "Hop" every year. The only way to stop it is for a better Easter Bunny movie to come along and takes its place.

America never needed an Easter Bunny movie, but now someone needs to spend time and money making a better Easter Bunny movie just to cancel out "Hop."

Two stars out of five.  

"Hop" is rated PG for some mild rude humor.  Its runtime is 102 minutes.  

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