Easter has gotten a raw deal when it comes to celebrated Holidays over the years. Everyone loves Christmas, especially Hollywood. How many Christmas movies do we have now? About a gazillion (give or take), and you can add 100 or so more every year. Heck, even Halloween has gotten plenty of love. But Easter? You rarely see a Easter-themed movie. Well it’s about time! And just in time for Easter, too (wow, what a coincidence!), comes the DVD/Blu-ray release of Tim Hill’s live-action/CG-animated movie “Hop”, due out May 23, 2012 from Universal Pictures.
From the makers of Despicable Me comes an all-new comedy about candy, chicks and rock n roll! He was destined to be the Easter Bunny, but all he wanted to do was rock! When teenage E.B. (voiced by Russell Brand) leaves for Hollywood in pursuit of his dream to become a rockstar drummer, he meets Fred (James Marsden), an out-of-work slacker with his own lofty goals. Together the two encounter a series of hilarious mishaps and misadventures and in the end help each other recognize the importance of family.
Being an Easter Bunny is a tough gig. There are all those eggs to deliver, for one. It’s tougher when that’s all you know, even though you’d prefer banging on some drums instead. Such is the dilemma for “Hop’s” hero, the CG bunny E.B. (Easter Bunny, get it?, voiced by Russell Brand), who decides to buck the family business (run by Hugh Laurie, no less) and goes out in search of fame and fortune. He gets, er, run over for his troubles instead. Welcome to the real world, kid!
James Marsden (Cyclops in the “X-Men” films) plays Fred, a human slacker with no direction (duh — that’s why he’s a slacker) whose path crosses E.B.’s, and the duo end up together. Over the course of the movie, the two learn things about themselves they didn’t previously know, and in the process you’re liable to get that warm, fuzzy feeling inside your stomach. Hey, it’s a kids movie, from the director of “Alvin and the Chipmunks”, no less, so to expect anything too overly serious is really setting yourself up for a fall. (Bonus points: Tim Hill also wrote many an episode of “SpongeBob SquarePants”, and is attached to direct the remake of “Short Circuit”.)
“Hop” is familiar, cliched, and you’ve already seen this story play out a few hundred times before. Ironically, 9 out of 10 of those Christmas-themed movies that Hollywood loves so much follows pretty much the same formula. Mind you, not that that’s really much of a critique of “Hop”. Kids will undoubtedly find it charming and fun (the jelly bean poop gags will surely have them giggling), while adults will probably be slightly amused by it. And if you want to look too closely at it, there are parts of the film that I found a tad questionable. The Easter Bunny’s factory, for instance, sure doesn’t seem all that open-minded. Like Willy Wonka’s factory, upward mobility doesn’t seem to exist in the Easter Bunny’s world unless you’re born into it. I’m just sayin’.
The CG effects, merging the CG characters with live-action actors, are pretty well done, which isn’t surprising given Hill’s experience with this. I mean, we’re not talking Pixar quality here, but you know, it’s not altogether bad. Brand is not nearly as annoying as he usually is (or as I usually find his brand of “comedy”) as E.B., and there’s something immensely likeable about Marsden. Hank Azaria as the conniving Carlos, a chick who wishes to usurp E.B.’s place as the Easter Bunny, steals the show whenever he’s onscreen. The Pink Berets also make a splash, and who can hate an appearance by David Hasselhoff as … David Hasselhoff? And hey, “Big Bang Theory” fans, Kaley Cuoco is also in this movie, too.
The Blu-ray Combo Pack comes pretty stuffed with extra features and bonus goodies for those of you with a few hours to kill. The highlights, if you’re a fan of Carlos (and Hank Azaria), will include “Phil’s Dance Party” a mini-movie starring chicks Phil and Carlos, “Carlos on Carlos: The premiere According to Carlos” is exactly just that, the premiere of “Hop” as seen through the eyes of Carlos, and “Post Coup Commentary: Carlos and Phil Tell All”, which is mostly just a rundown of the film’s plot. Russell Brand gets a couple of features, but I’m more of a fan of Brand’s E.B. than I am of, well, Brand himself, so these are skips for me. There are also a couple of mini-games to whittle away your time, though they’re much too brief. But like I said, if you have a few hours to kill, the “Hop” Blu-ray Combo Pack bonus features should keep you plenty busy.