'Hop' Plops

'Hop' Plops

Average-At-Best Animated Fare

2010 was a landmark year for animated family films. Movies like “How to Train Your Dragon,” “Despicable Me,” “Toy Story 3” and “Tangled” made being a movie-going parent delightfully tolerable.

2011 even started off strong with the wonderfully strange “Rango,” but every great run has to come to an end, which also explains why a return to mediocrity feels so jarring.

“Hop” is not a particularly horrid movie, but this animation-meets-live-action saga of an erstwhile Easter Bunny isn’t all that great either. Its inherent average-ness is easy to explain: solid writers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio (Yea for “Despicable Me” and “Horton Hears a Who”) meet not-so-solid director Tim Hill (Boo for “Alvin and the Chipmunks” and “Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties”).

"Hop" starring Russell Brand.

The story involves Easter-Bunny-in-waiting E.B., voiced by Russell Brand, who does a fine job of channeling his raunchy, manic energy into more wholesome purposes.  E.B. doesn’t particularly want to take over the family business from his father (as voiced by “House’s” Hugh Laurie) so he flees from the family’s candy-making compound on Easter Island (of course).

E.B. has aspirations of being a drummer, so he heads to Los Angeles where he befriends human slacker Fred, played by James Marsden. Heartthrob Marsden is proving himself to be a decent physical comedian between “Death at a Funeral” and now “Hop,” as every other scene seems to require some sort of pratfall.

Once Fred gets over the shock of running around with a talking rabbit, the duo set out to find their true purpose in life.
Watching “Hop” you kind of realize why there hasn’t really been an Easter Bunny movie before. Unlike Santa Claus, the dude’s got a pretty murky mythology; plus hiding eggs and leaving a basket of candy pales in comparison to the hefty guy’s present bonanza.

“Hop” tries to close the gap by giving the Easter Bunny a spectacular candy factory run by little yellow chicks, but Willy Wonka’s got him beat by a mile


And then there’s the 180lb crucified savoir in the room. Easter is a tough holiday to try to secularize and any efforts to do so seem kind of forced and awkward. I am reminded of that old “Saturday Night Live” sketch, “Hanukkah Harry Saves Christmas.”
Plus when you consider that all the bunnies and eggs and whatnot associated with Easter are basically fertility symbols co-opted from pagan springtime festivals, the Easter Bunny has more baggage than an episode of “Dr. Phil.”

Christmas movies can always fall back on the all-inclusive “Christmas Spirit” of peace on earth and goodwill towards man, but “Hop” can’t really go the “Easter Spirit” route since that’s about as Christian as it gets, so we wind up with a movie that’s basically about, um,  candy I guess.

Look, “Hop” is moderately amusing and will be enjoyably distracting for anyone under the age of 10. For everyone else, the movie is basically just one giant marshmallow peep; light and fluffy but after several bites you kind of start feeling a little sick to your stomach.

“Hop” is rated PG for some mild, rude humor.

Categories: Galleries