There is always something inherently funny when people act or appear different from the norm. I’d say watching grown men move about in pink Easter Bunny costumes fits the bill rather well. Does that premise deserve a full length feature film to explore though? Probably not, but it exists in the form of the independent comedy Hank and Mike. And since it exists, I’ll watch it.
In its original form Hank and Mike was a short film that chronicled two guys recently fired from their jobs at an Easter related company (hence the bunny outfits) as they drowned their sorrows at a strip club. In this incarnation, the writers Thomas Michael and Paulo Mancini had to add a lion’s share of filler material to successfully scale this theme from 15 minutes to 86. Unfortunately while doing so they removed the strip bar from the film and added in a bunch of other stuff that doesn’t rank anywhere near as good as naked girls dancing around a glistening pole. But it’s all not bad.
What they kept was the fact that the movie revolves around two guys, Hank (Thomas Michael) and Mike (Paulo Mancini). In the spirit of The Odd Couple, they’re polar opposites — Mike is the clean-cut, naive, introverted one of the pair, while Hank is the unkempt, outgoing one with a bad attitude. Due to corporate cost-cutting measures at Easter Enterprises fueled by new hatchet-man Conrad Hubriss (Chris Klein) and Mike’s continued apathy towards the job, the boys find themselves out of work with few prospects.
That doesn’t stop them from trying to find new employment as butchers, sewage authority workers, school janitors and cafeteria cooks — all while wearing their bunny outfits, mind you — as they discover new things about themselves. And it doesn’t take long for their friendship to strain. Mike realizes he uses Hank as a crutch and that he needs to stand up on his own two feet. Hank comes to the realization that he’s a dreg to society and that he needs to care. Aside from their job attempts, how they grow into their new bigger better selves is where a good chunk of the humor is derived from. Most notable is a heartwarming scene in which Mike finally expresses his love to Lena (Maggie Castle), the girl he secretly has a crush on. Of course when I say heartwarming, I really mean train wreck — he says things that even the most hardened stalker would never utter to the object of his or her’s desires.
I’d have to say, for mostly complete unknowns, Mancini and Michael do a more than adequate job inhabiting the skin of their roles. Whether it has something to do with the fact they did these characters eight years ago, I don’t know, but I figure there’s probably a big piece of Mike and Hank built into them — Michael looks like he’s a cocky s.o.b. and Mancini looks like he’s a bit of a goob. It also helps that they managed to talk Klein and Joe Mantegna (he’s Mr. Pan, the CEO of Easter Enterprises) into adding their talents — they steal quite a few scenes.
So if you ever wanted to see a bunch of grown men inexplicably wear rabbit costumes 24/7 then wait no more, Hank and Mike is the movie for you. The concept gets a bit long winded but for the most part it stays relatively funny. If nothing else the movie at least answers the age old question on how the Easter Bunny leaves candy baskets in the house.