The title of Hop, as well as the posters and trailers, makes it look like a cute, kid-friendly movie about the Easter Bunny. I can confirm that it is indeed about the Easter Bunny – or, as he is known in the movie, E. B. Well, it’s actually more complicated than that. See, there’s an Easter Bunny (voiced by Hugh Laurie), and, in the great 4,000-year tradition of Easter Bunnies (apparently predating the holiday that we currently call Easter by thousands of years), the Easter Bunny is about to retire, and turn the family business over to his son, E. B. (Russell Brand).
But E. B. doesn’t want to run the massive Easter candy factory (located on Easter Island, of course) and spread joy and jellybeans to the wee tykes of the world. He just wants to bang on the drums all day. So he runs away to Hollywood. Meanwhile, a disgruntled, oversized chick named Carlos (Hank Azaria), tired of being overlooked by the jovial rabbit overlords, schemes to take over Easter. Funny, right?
Fred O’Hare (James Marsden, exhibiting not an iota of comic timing) is, like E. B., a slacker. His parents (Gary Cole and Elizabeth Perkins) have decided to push him out of the nest, since he won’t depart voluntarily. His sister (Kaley Cuoco) arranges for him to house-sit a mansion, and…well, you can guess the rest. E. B. and Fred end up together, and E. B. thwarts Fred’s halfhearted attempts to get a job, while Fred helps E. B. land an audition for a TV talent show.
Chelsea Handler and David Hasselhoff are involved, because, you know, the little kids go wild for Handler and the Hoff. Did I mention the part where E. B. tries to get into the Playboy mansion, thinking that it’s a crash pad for sexy bunnies such as himself? Are you laughing yet?
Most of the “jokes” in Hop will, fortunately, sail over the kids’ heads, unless you parents are doing a really terrible job of protecting your children from all that is crass. You could make amends by protecting them from this basketful of Easter crass. The “jokes” in Hop are decidedly not funny, just like the rest of the movie. Admittedly, Russell Brand is a taste that I’ve yet to acquire – although I can see, in theory, how he might be funny, and he certainly looks funny. But he’s not funny in Hop. Nothing is funny in Hop.
Another thing that I’m not especially a fan of is the animated-critters-plus-live-action-humans combination. Director Tim Hill, who also directed Alvin and the Chipmunks and Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, seems to be specializing in this sub-basement genre, so he and I do not cross paths often at the cineplex. On the other hand, he had a hand in writing The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and several SpongeBob TV episodes, so he can’t be all bad. ‘Tis a pity that he wasn’t one of the three writers of Hop, who, among them, couldn’t find anything amusing for the humans, bunnies and chicks to do.
Hop is an Easter-themed variation on The Santa Clause. (Perhaps we can look forward to future remakes for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Passover and Diwali.) The movie takes an assortment of random personalities and combines them with some potentially comedic bits that are never quite developed into the components of a cohesive story. They’re basically one-offs that go nowhere – which, if they were hilarious, might be enough. But they’re not. E. B. poops jellybeans! E. B. has ninja bunny bodyguards called Pink Berets, and one of them has asthma! (I can’t figure out why that’s funny at all.) Fred is pet-sitting for two vicious dogs! Also, the Easter Bunny arrives in a flying egg-sled pulled by dozens of tiny chicks.
My notes for this movie pretty much sum it up: “Playboy mansion. Blecch. This is a long 90 minutes. Not good.” My young sidekick gave it a five out of ten stars, but I think that she was just being nice because she really likes jellybeans.