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I am glad, finally a holiday comedy about Easter, and like Garfield and
Scooby Doo, It mixes live action with CGI animation. Now I really liked
the animation, the Easter Bunnys warehouse where they make candy for
Easter is the most awesome thing since Willy Wonkas Chocolate Factory.
Not to mention Hugh Laurie, Russell Brand, and Hank Azaria voice there
characters perfectly, and provide much of the films humor.
Now the live action was not as funny, at times James Marsden slips by with a funny line. but other than that it's all pretty stale. Even David Hasselhoff making fun of himself, hasn't he done enough of that already. I know what they are trying to do, a Santa Clause, but with Easter. And they did alright, but they could have done a little better.
"Hop" is another movie in a long line of big budget Easter Bunny films,
just like...um... well ... er ... I guess there aren't many Easter
movies that stick out in my mind. The team at Illumination
Entertainment (who also brought you "Despicable Me") tried something
new and approached a holiday that hasn't earned much attention from the
film industry. Maybe they will set a standard for Easter films and this
could be the beginning of Easter films. Or the end.
The movie starts off strong; we are introduced to the hero of the film E.B. (voiced by Russell Brand) (I can only assume E.B. stands for Easter Bunny) who is touring the candy factory with his dad on Easter Island (where else would an Easter Bunny live?). His father (voiced by Hugh Laurie) really wants E.B. to be the next Easter Bunny. Unlike Santa Claus, where there is only one of him that lives for a really long time; there is a long line of Easter Bunnies that have been keeping this Easter tradition alive for 4,000 years (for the Christians, do the math, does something seem fishy? For the Catholics, that fishy pun was intended for you in this Lenten season.) At the same time, we see Fred O'Hare (get it? O'Hare. I'm sure there's a joke in there somewhere) as a small child who catches a glimpse of E.B.'s dad delivering Easter eggs. Fred even sees the Easter sleigh (A sleigh? Yes, I must have missed that one as a kid. It's an Easter sleigh towed by hundreds of tiny yellow chicks.).
Fast forward 20 years, Fred (played by James Marsden) is now a grown man living at home with his parents with no job or even a real future. And, E.B. is now a teenager (for any of the viewers, do the math wait, don't do the math and just go with this one) who wants to drum in a band instead of inheriting the title of Easter Bunny. He runs away to Hollywood to follow his dreams. There Fred literally runs into E.B. with his car. I didn't realize how funny it can be to see a CGI bunny get hit by a car.
Fred and E.B. don't hit it off right away; Fred is pretty sure he is imagining the whole thing. E.B. annoys Fred with his antics and then Fred tries dumping E.B. in the wilderness. E.B. finally proves to Fred that he is the Easter Bunny by pooping out jelly beans. It's fun for the kids, I guess. Fred then remembers the time he saw the Easter Bunny which makes him ignore the fact that he despised this rabbit 10 minutes earlier. Here, as in most kiddie films, the two characters that had their differences and are now best of friends, must work together to fight a common enemy and therefore save Easter.
Should you see this movie? Nope. The CGI and detail put into it was great but they didn't put half as much effort into the story. Sure it was cute and sure it had a few funny moments, but it's just not worth it to see this movie. The kids have probably seen the trailer and want to see the bunny that poops candy. If they are between ages 4 and 9 maybe put the DVD in their Easter basket next year but don't waste 90 minutes for a 15-second joke.
HOP is a really lazy and lousy film. While technically amazing HOP is filled with unfinished scenes, unfulfilled moments, characters who amount to nothing, silly dumb scenes that go nowhere and worst of all the tediously unfunny Russell Brand. I have no clue as to why he is being promoted as funny or interesting. I find his work really annoying. The visuals with CGI bunnies and the Easter Island Wonka factory is fun but it all continually falls short of amounting to anything. Clever casting with appealing James Marsden helps but his family scenes are uniformly weak, and play like bad 60s TV scenes we all groaned about in the original Bewitched. Overall HOP is a huge disappointment made irritating by boring Brand. A real missed opportunity, made infuriating by the sitcom style and the go nowhere script and hopeless character development. All that technical expertise and THIS is all they do with it. That is lazy and cynical film making as if bundling shiny ribbon together is all that is needed. I went with a 4 year old and she (like others in the cinema) just became bored.
Despite the terrible reviews the critics decided to give this movie I decided to go and watch for myself. It seems that all critics like now days are movies with non stop sexual innuendos and sex period. They should realize that this movie is targeted towards kids while at the same time if the adults actually pay attention and listen closely they will enjoy this movie. The animation is splendid and the jokes throughout the film are jokes that any kid would enjoy. Even as an adult I was laughing throughout the entire movie. I mean would the creators of the hit "Despicable Me" really lead you wrong? My answer is no. This movie will leave you hopping out of the theater with nothing but a look of satisfaction. That is of course you don't know how to think like a kid anymore. So if you haven't seen it yet I would more than definitely recommend it to you especially if you have young kids.
This time, the phrase "From the producers of Despicable Me" did not
sound like a warning, but as a recommendation, because I moderately
enjoyed that movie. Unfortunately, Hop ended up being a horrible film
which uses the most cloying and tiring routines from the family cinema.
In a few words, I found the story to be boring, the humor to be
excessively simple and trite, and the performances (with one exception)
to be lacking of any life or energy. However, the solid animation and
vivacious music might fool to some kids to make them believe they are
I previously mentioned that almost all the performances (also the voice ones) feel listless. The only actor who shows conviction in his role is James Marsden as the leading character. His best attribute in this movie is that he makes us to believe he is genuinely interacting with a rabbit which would not exist on the screen until months later, during the post-production. And I also liked the fact that he takes his character seriously; thinking about it better, I think that that is what makes the relationship between his character and the rabbit credible. Unfortunately, Marsden's competent work was not enough for saving this movie from being an absolute tedium.
And just in case the screenplay was not questionable enough, Hop forces its premise even more in order to justify the use of sporadic rock-and-roll songs, with the hope of looking "cooler". Besides, the excuse of the rabbit wanting to be a rock singer is simply a rehash of the old cliché "son who refuses to follow his father's steps". Anyway, I think that Hop is an atrocious movie which made me feel like genuinely wasting my time. In other words, avoid it at any cost.
The TV previews made me want to see this movie, but it turns out that those were the few funny moments to this movie - with the exception of the school play with the characters singing "I Want Candy". Nicely animated, but short on guffaws. Kids may love it, but as an adult it was a bit boring at moments and not very original. Now, really, the Easter Bunny has a sleigh? May be best to wait for this one to come out on DVD and keep it in mind for an Easter basket gift for next year. There are a shortage of good, original movie plots out there, short on story line and imagination. If the producers could only make the perfect fit of beautiful animation and storyline, you'd have one fine movie. This one needed more laughs to keep it moving along.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
You know it sort of annoys me that people bag on movies like Hop but
get all excited about things like Kung Fu Panda, Rango and Despicable
Me. This is a movie made for kids and besides my 4 year old and all the
other kids in the theater laughing, dancing and clapping in sheer
amazement, I must say I chuckled pretty hard several times. Sure the
script and acting is not going to win any SAG awards but I always
evaluate how movies execute on what they are trying to accomplish. If
you can appreciate a good zombie movie then you probably get my point.
At any rate as a parent after seeing Rango I pretty much had decided that navigating movies to entertain your kids is a challenge now. Everyone tries to be so clever and impress adults and really that is not the point of kids movies. Don't get me wrong we don't shelter our daughter (her favorite movies are Star Wars, original of course) but a lot of stuff out there is just boring to kids.
Nothing original??? Really. Please refer me to the other movies where the world of the Easter Bunny was so magically created like Santa's workshop the way Hop executed on it...
Well at any rate parents feel safe bringing your kids to Hop and knowing that they will most likely enjoy it. It's my 4 year old's new favorite so for that it gets 9 stars.
In the 2011 film Hop, the Easter Bunny is basically Santa Claus and its
main character, EB, is just like Alvin (of Alvin and the Chipmunks). In
fact, this movie is very similar to Alvin's movie. Alvin and Hop both
feature live-action stars co-starring alongside computer-animated main
characters. Both of these animated, central "cute" animals want/dream
of becoming recording/rock star musicians (Alvin sings ... EB plays the
drums). James Marsden (Enchanted, X-Men, 27 Dresses) steps into the
role of Dave as the character Fred O'Hare (uh, get it ... hare!?!). And
that is about it.
As for plot: EB has fled Easter Island (yes, THAT Easter Island; and yes, "lame"!) a couple of weeks before he is supposed to take on the title of THE Easter Bunny. He flees to Hollywood ("where all dreams come true") and meets up with the bumbling Marsden who doesn't know what he wants to do in life. Hint ... hint ... for future plot points!
EB(voiced by Russell Brand - Get Him to the Greek, Arthur, Despicable Me) is chased by a fairly tough bunch of Pink Berets who's mission is to bring him back to the island. While in LA, EB gets to meet and audition for David Hasselhoff (uh, talk about random) and his televised talent competition. I mean really!
The movie is short (luckily!) BUT rambling and devoid of anything great or meaningful. The character is cute BUT annoying and irritating and kind of selfish ... which doesn't make him a character I wanted to root for (and that the role/job of the Easter Bunny that EB is fleeing from doesn't ever come across as something dreadfully dream-killing). His plight is rather "ho-hum, poor you" (!) as he would only have to work-work ONE day a year (which leaves plenty of time to still rock a set of drums) as it is revealed that most of his work would be done by a large population of yellow chicks -- think Santa's elves and (boo!!!) the rip-offed Minions of Despicable Me!
It is kind of odd that such a bright and pastel-colored film with such cute animated characters (one even poops jellybeans!) would leave one with such a feeling of apathy. And ... so ... uhm ... ? But this is exactly how Hop made me feel.
I enjoyed the talking pig film Babe (LOVED it); but Hop lacks that genuine human feeling of OTHER talking animal movies ... it feels manufactured and painted like a brightly-colored (yet HOLLOW) Easter egg.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Visual effects will get Academy nominated, story borrows from the
various Christmas movies, live action acting is OK, but the music is
great. Never heard the Blind Boys of Alabama until yesterday, with E.B.
as their stand in drummer. I Want Candy from Bow Wow Wow in a big
number upstaging Fred's sister intentionally bad singing. Rockband drum
set (not positive what piece they were playing).
** SPOILER **
Straight out of "Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow" by Marsha Sinetar (next on my reading list, borrowing my wife's unopened copy), Fred gets to do what he has loved to do since he was a young boy. (Obtuse spoiler, but for those who were *paying attention* to the movie may catch it.) His position is mentioned in the front, but you only understand this at the end.
Oh, and as I push my daughter to do, *stay to the end* (and I will leave it up to you to see what happens).
Just as how Santa Claus stories work through their way through the
Christmas period, Hop brings forward the Easter season some three weeks
early with a kids film that combines the best of live action and
animation in yet another talking animal story, which is something quite
expected when you combine filmmakers who had worked on Alvin and the
Chipmunks, and the producers of Despicable Me, who probably would have
floated the idea that cute yellow things make for comedic villains
since they're going against type.
Hop is a tale about sons being unable to live up to the ideals of their fathers, being told what is expected, being seen as soft and unable to exert any say in what they really want to do in life. When we first see EB (or short for Easter Bunny, voiced by Russell Brand), "plush toy" comes to mind for its incredibly cute design when the wide eyed bunny tours and allows the audience to see first hand what would be the equivalent of Santa's operations that the Easter Bunny adopts, with multitudes of chocolate and candy making machines all outsourced not to elves, but to chicks to operate and churn them out, before making deliveries in one single day to all the kids.
But as EB grows up, his propensity to take on the family business, or rather his calling in life, takes a hit and wanes because he aspires to dabble in music and play drums. Rather than take over from his father, he runs away to Hollywood to seek out his fortunes and thereby putting Easter potentially on hold, and bumps into Fred O'Hare (James Marsden), who is also kicked out of his family home because his father and family members find it a tad ridiculous that he mucks around home for the last one year doing nothing. So it's a chance meeting of two similar sons set to prove themselves in a whole new world, and bring about the usual kids theme of friendship, perseverance, and plenty of juvenile comedy. Look out for David Hasselhoff playing himself, and the requisite cute bunnies collectively known as the Pink Berets who would probably steal the show.
I have to admit though that some of the jokes do work, since it's quite a wide spectrum from the usual toilet humour - EB poops delicious, multi-flavoured candy! - to a hilarious get up of the song I Love Candy with the duo continuing a ruse from earlier involving EB pretending to be a plush toy. This aspect of the film compensates for the lack of sophistication of the plot which for some weird reason has Fred not being satisfied with having validated that he's not crazy with his young time witnessing of the Easter Bunny going about his one day routine, but desiring to instead become a bunny himself.
That brought about what I thought was the most direct reference back to Despicable Me with the mindless bantering amongst the minions of the Easter Bunny's factory, where second in command Carlos (Hank Azaria), in the absence of EB and his dad getting old, secretly coverts a plot to usurp the festivity and run the entire show himself. While the minions have different designs and varying degrees of intelligence, the chicks here adopt a uniform look, and as expected there's always a smart alecky character to become cannon fodder for laughs.
Besides priming itself for a respectable box office result when the Easter holiday rolls along, what this film would probably successfully do is to ramp up demand for rabbits and chicks amongst its targeted demographic, so parents, do spare a thought and taper those short term wants. Strictly for the kids. Do stay tuned until after the end credits for a scene to witness James Marsden's Mandarin diction.
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