There are at least 100 Christmas movies in circulation (go ahead and count them, I’ll wait). I’m guessing maybe a dozen or so movies with a Thanksgiving theme. Easter movies? I can’t think of a single one (those made for television specials like Yogi the Easter Bear don’t count). With such a gaping void ripe for the filling, Illumination Entertainment, the braintrust behind Despicable Me, offers up the Easter Bunny in the CGI-fest Hop — just in time for the jelly bean and Hershey Kisses infused holiday.
The premise is nothing particularly new to an adult who has seen his or her share of movies but the young ones will surely get transfixed by the many cues to Christmas, an evil, puffy yellow chick hellbent on becoming the new Easter Bunny (let’s look past the fact he isn’t technically a rabbit) and a hip, rock drumming rabbit hellbent on not becoming the new Easter Bunny. Oh yeah, E.B., as he is unimaginatively named, shits jelly beans too, so the kids will love that. To be fair, it’s one of the cleverer aspects of the movie and it’s good to garner a laugh (I’ll never eat a jelly bean again and I suspect now neither will my kids) but overall Hop is a jumbled mess of uninspired gags made worse by shoddy writing.
As only a perfectly scripted scenario would have it, the slacker E.B. (voiced by Russell Brand), who wants desperately to be a drummer in a rock band, runs into a human with just as much disdain for responsibility as he has. Fred (James Marsden), as luck would have it, is doing nothing more than house sitting at his sister Sam’s (Kaley Cuoco) boss’s mansion, so it’s a perfect setup for a) Fred to taxi E.B. around as needed (what else has he got to do?) and b) the adventurous E.B. to cause havoc in and not be seen because even Fred, with his lone rational thought, knows they can’t be sure how people would react if they were to see a talking, drum stick wielding rabbit. But, in case you’re wondering, Hop answers that question for us since E.B. can’t not do unrabbit like things in public. (Like we didn’t see that happening).
This purposeful oversight leads to the biggest fault of the film — the laziness isn’t only a personality trait of the main characters; the writing of Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio and Brian Lynch is equally lethargic. Subplots are introduced in the spirit of advancing the movie and forgotten. Themes that had an opportunity to be explored — both E.B. and Fred have issues with their fathers — could have been tidied up better. Characters make an appearance and in some cases aren’t fully fleshed out or conversely they are and they’re just not investment material — the Pink Berets, a trio of female rabbit secret agents, and Elizabeth Perkins as Fred’s mom, for example, could have used more screen time. Even the climax of the movie which involves that evil chicky I mentioned earlier (voiced by Hank Azaria, by the way) is dragged out and handled poorly.
The effects in Hop are its strongest point. E.B. looks good, which I guess shouldn’t be much of a surprise as Tim Hill also directed Alvin and the Chipmunks (a rabbit is, after all, a close cousin to a chipmunk). The interaction between graphic and actor is done well enough too, although there are a few scenes where the editing could have been done better.
Brand, it should be noted, does a commendable job voicing the rascally rabbit and Marsden puts on an okay lovable loser routine.
Both of these guys (and everyone else for that matter), however, could have done so much more had they been given anything even slightly better to work with. But hey, at least now the Easter holiday has a cutesy family flick to call its own (even if Hop wasn’t what it, or I, had in mind).