Gary Cole, Elizabeth Perkins
- Rated PG
- Buy the BD
All photos © Universal Pictures
Reviewed by David Medsker
he problem with “Hop” isn’t its lack of originality, though the movie doesn’t have an original thought in its head. The movie’s real problem is that it’s boring, and not even Russell Brand’s signature back-door punch lines can redeem it. For a film so loaded with talent, nearly every scene is filled with the kind of uncomfortable exchanges that suggest all concerned knew they were making a subpar movie, but plowed through it in as few takes as possible because hey, it’s just a kid’s movie. You can practically hear the director shouting that at the actors before he rolls tape; “It’s just a kid’s movie. Now dance, you monkeys!”
Russell Brand voices E.B., the imminent heir to the Easter Bunny throne, but what he really wants to do is play drums. Fred O’Hare (James Marsden) is living with his parents after losing his job the year before, and they’re booting him from the nest. E.B. runs away from Easter Island (huh, get it?) to pursue his dream as a drummer, and crosses paths with Fred when Fred nearly runs over him with his car. E.B. tells Fred that he’s the Easter Bunny, which Fred believes since he saw E.B.’s father (Hugh Laurie) as a child. However, E.B. is being hunted by his father’s elite security force, while his father’s second in command, a chick named Carlos (Hank Azaria), sees E.B.’s disappearance as an opportunity to stage a mutiny.
After making such an impressive debut last year with “Despicable Me,” it’s disappointing to see Illumination Entertainment follow that movie with something so lazy. There are two scenes of E.B. and Fred as kids, followed by the super, “Twenty Years Later.” This would be all right if both characters were human, but rabbits live on average between nine to 12 years. Then there is the scene at the school play of Fred’s adopted sister, which does not work on any level. Would anyone really applaud the 30-something guy accidentally stealing the show from a bunch of kids? Would the kids encourage him to steal the show from them? Would the backing band – of kids – be able to play the ensuing musical number on the fly? No, no, and no. “It’s a kid’s movie! Now grab those Easter egg baskets and jump the hedges, Marsden. We need a montage.”
Brand approaches the role the way he seems to approach every role – the guy should trademark the phrase ‘sardonic candor’ – and that is one of the movie’s few bright spots. Everything around him might be begged, borrowed or stolen, but Brand finds a way to rise above it all, even when he’s pooping jelly beans. (You read that right.) Marsden is a funny guy, but he does not look at all comfortable here, while Gary Cole, who plays Marsden’s father, has this glazed, ‘remember the paycheck’ look in his eyes. The bunnies are cute, especially the pink berets tasked with hunting E.B. down, but their characters are afterthoughts.
It’s strange to see a movie as simple-minded as “Hop” come out in this day and age, since Pixar effectively killed these movies 15 years ago. With any luck, this is merely an aberration, for both Illumination and the public, and it will be quickly forgotten.
Single-Disc Blu-ray Review:
The Blu-ray for "Hop" features a slew of extra features, though parents, be forewarned: they are targeted exclusively at your kids. There is a short film starring Carlos and Phil, where they do the animated bird equivalent of The History of Dance. There are six short clips highlighting the major characters, a bit featuring Russell Brand interviewing children (this is the best of the bunch, because it's the one chance Russell Brand has to exercise his wit). There are a couple of memory-testing games for kids (memorize the order of drum hits, the patterns of Easter eggs, etc.), and a bit involving Cody Simpson. Like we said, this one's all about the kiddos.