When you hear the plot of Hop—a high-concept Easter movie about an animated slacker heir to the Easter Bunny title (voiced by wacky bad-boy Russell Brand) who really wants to be a drummer—you know you're going to get one of two films. Either it'll be a quirky little animated gem like last year's Despicable Me (from the same production company that made Hop) … or it'll be like a cartoon root canal for your brain.
Sadly, Hop is the latter.
We start at Easter Island (oh, the cleverness is just beginning), where the Easter Bunny (voiced in proper British by Hugh Laurie) is grooming his young son E. B. to be his eventual replacement. The thing is, E.B. doesn't really want to take over this fanciful candy factory and the task of delivering Easter baskets worldwide every spring. He'd rather play drums in a rock band.
So, just before the ceremony where he takes over the family business, E. B. escapes to the real world—to Hollywood, of course, where entertainment dreams come true. He bumps into Fred O'Hare (James Marsden), a fellow jobless slacker who happened to catch a sneak peek at the Easter Bunny when he was a young boy. Moved by this connection, Fred reluctantly allows E. B. to crash with him at the mansion he's house-sitting for the week.
During his stay, E. B. manages to (surprise!) trash the mansion, seemingly disturb no one that he's a talking animated bunny, and make it on David Hasselhoff's TV show, Hoff Knows Talent. There's also an odd cameo by the Blind Boys of Alabama, some unfunny references to the Playboy Mansion (bunnies, get it?), and an unfortunate ventriloquist number of "I Want Candy."
Back at Easter Island, E. B.'s dad is distraught that his son is missing. And he's also clueless that his right-hand man Carlos (an oversized chick amusingly voiced by Hank Azaria) is vying for the job that E. B. tossed aside. As Easter nears, Carlos stages a creepy uprising of the chicks who run the factory.
All of this nonsense might have been okay if there were some great zingers or puns or just funny lines. Instead there are odd pop culture references, some tantalizing CGI super-sized candy, and too many stretches of dull dialogue. There were a ton of young children in my screening of Hop, and not once was there a collective belly laugh.
I can't really tell you if Marsden did a good job here as I was too distracted being embarrassed for him—and for Gary Cole and Elizabeth Perkins, who play his parents. There are decent actors here, in person and in voice, so how could the writers (all three of them) and director not make something better happen?
Christian parents have the added drawback that this movie makes Easter entirely about candy and bunnies and not even remotely about anything more meaningful or spiritual. (E. B.'s father, trying to convince his son of the weight of the title, even refers to "4,000 years of tradition." Four thousand years? Say what??) There are father-son issues here, but, as you might expect, nothing about the Father or Son truly at the heart of Easter.
The ending of Hop is odd, contrived, leaves unresolved issues, and, frankly, doesn't come soon enough. Unless you and your young children are desperate for entertainment, hop on by.Discussion starters
- Why doesn't E. B. want to be the Easter Bunny? How is it that his dad hasn't realized this?
- Why does Fred have a hard time finding a job? What's really going on?
- What do Fred and E. B. learn from and bring to each other?
- Talk about the parallels in the relationships between E. B and his dad and Fred and his dad. What has broken down in both of these relationships? What resolution is reached by the end of the movie?
- How have both Fred and E. B. grown by the end of the film?
The Family CornerFor parents to consider
Hop is rated PG for some mild rude humor. There are a couple references to the Playboy Mansion that will likely go over young kids' heads. E. B. poops jelly beans. Carlos the lead chick at the factory turns mean and creepy toward the end, tying up Fred and the Easter Bunny and sending E. B. into the machine that carves chocolate bunnies. Neither Fred nor E. B. are good role models with their selfish, slacker ways.
Photos © Universal Pictures.
Copyright © 2011 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.