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.
E.B. (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 E.B. and Fred work together and
achieve their dreams while earning the respect of their disapproving
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 – E.B. 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
It’s a shame that after a promising set up, Hop lacks a significant
antagonist. E.B.’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…