Film Review – Hop
Sometimes, when I watch a really good movie, I become so entranced by it that it stays with me long after walking out of the theater. A movie like that wraps me up in its story and doesn’t let go; it sticks in my mind and stays there for days on end. When a film has great acting, sharp writing, and keen direction, it has a way of implanting itself in my head, making me want to relive the experience as soon as possible. I want to turn to the nearest person to talk and debate them about it, or head straight to my computer to write a great review telling everyone I know how they should see it as soon as they can. To me, watching great movies is what makes life worth living. Hop (2011) is not one of those movies. Far from it. Far…far from it.
I have to give it credit, though; the film points out the great conundrum that has plagued the mystery of the Easter Bunny: why exactly is the Easter Bunny associated with eggs? First off, the last time I checked, bunnies don’t lay eggs. Secondly, bunnies aren’t hatched. So how did a bunny come to hijack the key emblem of the Easter season? Somewhere out there is one pissed off bird that probably regrets not getting up on time when they were looking for the official spokesman for the holiday. Bunnies eat carrots, not eggs, and from what I remember bunnies aren’t the most artistically inclined, and yet when the season comes around we always see eggshells that are beautifully painted. Oh, and one more thing: what’s with the hiding of the eggs? The Easter Bunny was already selfish enough to steal the position, but then when the day comes around, he actually sadistically hides the eggs from the kids, forcing them to search while he lays back and maniacally laughs at their incompetence? At least Bugs Bunny never had an identity crisis!
Ok, let’s step back and get serious for a second. Clearly, I am not the target audience for this film. It’s made for young children, and while watching it I tried to put my mind in a place relative to that. Russell Brand voices the main character, a young teenage bunny named E.M. (get it?). E.M. is the next in line to become the official Easter Bunny, but in his adventurous heart, he dreams of other things, to the detriment of his father (Hugh Laurie). Escaping his home on Easter Island (get it?) E.M. makes his way to Hollywood, hoping to become a drummer in a rock ‘n’ roll band. His story is counterpointed by that of James Marsden’s character, Fred O’Hare (get it?). Fred is a man who has refused to grow up, has very little to no interest in anything, and spends most of his days moping about and being lazy. As a child, Fred once saw the Easter Bunny delivering (correction: hiding) eggs in his front lawn, and for the rest of his life, knew with all of his heart that this magical creature truly existed. Now, Fred is not a bad guy, and could actually be sympathetic, if it weren’t for the fact that he is a complete idiot. He walks around in a state of mental underdevelopment, and that’s saying a lot for a film where we’re supposed to buy in to the idea of a fully dressed, talking rabbit. Quickly, the two form a unique, albeit odd couple. Here’s the kicker: they strike up a deal where Fred will help E.M. become a rock ‘n’ roll star, while E.M. will help Fred finally become what he always wanted to be…the Easter Bunny. That’s right, the Easter Bunny. Imagine how hard it must have been for James Marsden to say the line “I want to be the Easter Bunny,” and to do it with a straight face.
But things aren’t as simple as they appear. Back on Easter Island (did you get it yet?) E.M.’s father tries to get things prepared in the factory for the upcoming holiday. In a way, he’s a lot like Santa Claus working in the North Pole, except he’s not making toys, but little pieces of candy and colorful eggs. Instead of an army of elves to help him, he has an army of chicks. Unbeknownst to him, his second-in-command, the chick Carlos (Hank Azaria), is secretly harboring a desire to become the Easter Bunny himself. That’s right, a chick that wants to stage a coup and become the Easter Bunny. Needless to say, identity issues run rampant in this film! The rest of the movie involves the complex story of E.M. and Fred, as Fred trains for the job he knows he can fulfill, and E.M. achieves the musical dream he’s had since he was a baby bunny, all while at the same time stopping Carlos from taking control of the factory and ruining Easter forever. Along the way, we get a special guest appearance from David Hasselhoff as himself, host to a televised talent search titled Hoff Knows Talent. Because, as we all well know, Hoff knows talent when he sees it.
Like I said earlier, I am not within the target demographic that this film aims for. So, for a moment, let’s think about this as a kid: if I were a five-to-nine year old, would I be entertained by this movie? Perhaps. One thing I would point out is that the bunnies here have a cuteness factor turned up to an eleven. All of the bunnies (and the chicks, save for Carlos) are designed to make us go “Awwwww” with the puffy, snuggly fur and feathers, and the big round eyes and everything. There is a trio of bunnies known as the Pink Berets that are a highly trained task force sent to retrieve and bring E.M. back home, and I found some amusement in watching one of them use an inhaler as they carried out their mission. Another thing I would point out is that the main characters’ intentions are clear and understandable. All that E.M. and Fred want to do is follow their dreams and do something that they are passionate about, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.
On the flip side though, the adult part of me couldn’t help but cringe with how silly this whole thing was. Poor James Marsden, I wonder what was possibly running through his head as I watched him prance around, holding baskets of eggs while doing hurtles, training to be a holiday mascot. He must have laughed, even a little bit, when the director (Tim Hill) told him “Ok, in this scene I’ll need you to pretend that a bunny slaps you in the face.” There is a scene where Fred, pretending to be a ventriloquist, uses E.M. as a puppet, and leads a crowd in a rendition of “I Want Candy.” I’ll leave it to you to guess how entertaining that was. I shook my head as I watched the film drop into toilet humor, with E.M. pooping jellybeans, and the eventual moment when someone would take a bite out of one. And I sat in a state of shock when, in a move that is simply tasteless, the film references a key moment in Fatal Attraction (1987). If you’ve seen that movie, you’ll know what I’m talking about, and you’ll also know that it has no business being in this movie.
So, we’ve come to the point where I have to summarize all of my thoughts about this movie into one, singular grade. To be honest, this is a pretty difficult movie to rate. How exactly am I supposed to condense a film that’s clearly not made for me into a grade that represents everything I’ve written about? If I were grading this on my own tastes, I would rate it a D. While at the screening I attended, I looked around and noticed that not many of the kids were laughing during the film; in fact, some seemed to be bored or were complaining about being hungry. However, when walking out of the theater, I noticed a couple of kids laughing and singing the songs from it. They clearly had a good time. That contrast in enjoyment tells me to point toward a C. In the end, I think I’ll just settle for somewhere in the middle.
Final Grade: C-