Hop Review: What’s Up Doc?
When Christmas rolls around, cinemas are flooded with a tide of festively-themed films. Halloween also has more than its fair share of horror-themed holiday scares. Easter is far less represented in the movie department but Hop aims to change that as it bounds on to our screens this year.
EB (Russell Brand) is the son of the Easter Bunny. He’s the heir apparent to his father’s job but has no interest in spreading chocolate to the children of the world. Instead, he’d rather concentrate on his music and spends most of his time drumming in his room. When he realises that he’ll have no choice but to accept the milk chocolate mantle of Easter Bunnyhood, he runs away to Hollywood in order to pursue his dreams of musical superstardom.
After being turned away from the Playboy Mansion, he ends up being run over by Fred (James Marsden), a late 20-something who has difficulty finding a job, much to the chagrin of his father (Gary Cole). Can EB and Fred work together and achieve their dreams while earning the respect of their disapproving dads?
Meanwhile, Easter as we know it is under threat by Carlos, an Easter chick who’s fed up of playing second fiddle to the bunnies and is planning a coup d’etat on Easter Island (where else?).
Hop looks impressive – EB in particular in beautifully animated and blends perfectly with his human counterparts. Russell Brand’s vocal talents (nails on a blackboard to some viewers) are well suited to the character and by its conclusion it’s hard to think of a better match for a wise-cracking bunny rabbit. James Marsden is a likable lead (not to mention having almost as many teeth as his animated counterpart) and has had plenty of practice acting opposite imaginary characters (Enchanted).
It’s a shame that after a promising set up, Hop lacks a significant antagonist. EB’s being followed by the pink berets, a supposedly elite squad of bunny soldiers tasked with bringing him home, but save a few appearances, they’re largely relegated to background characters playing catch up. Carlos’s machinations take place exclusively on Easter Island, away from the two heroes, so it makes for an anticlimactic final battle.
In fact, Hop tries very hard to cram too much into its 95 minute running time – there’s an interview to go, a school play to attend, an audition to win and Easter to save and surprisingly for a film featuring Russell Brand’s loquacious talents, very few actual laughs.
It’s Marsden and Brand’s show – Gary Cole is wasted as Fred’s disproving dad and Kelly Cuoco, who’s proved her comedy chops in The Big Bang Theory, hardly features at all. Despite its problems, it’s a far cry from its nauseating trailer, which seemed to portray Hop as a glorified merchandising vehicle populated with cheap jokes, although there are some notable product endorsements – Jelly Belly, Cadbury, Rock Band and iPhone – all of which are predictably visible.
Hop is a decent, if unremarkable and unambitious family animation more suited to younger members of the audience but sadly lacking the bounce that could have made it great. The search for the great Easter movie goes on…