Thursday, March 31, 2011

Movie Review: Russell Brand Brings Sugary-Sweet Laughs to Hop

Review in a Hurry: Fur real? The Easter Bunny's rebellious son pursues his Hollywood dreams in Hop, an animation, live-action hybrid that travels a well-trod trail of pop-culture indulgence. Kiddies might be eggcited by the critters and candy, but for most peeps, this bunny-buddy comedy delivers a mixed basket.
The Bigger Picture: Director Tim Hill's rabbit tale follows in the paw prints of Alvin and the Chipmunks (which Hill also helmed), Furry Vengeance, Yogi Bear, G-Force, et al. It's a bummer, because the beloved Easter icon (the nonreligious one, that is) deserves a fresher, funnier treatment.
At the workshop under Easter Island, the Easter Bunny (Hugh Laurie) names his teenage son, E.B. (Russell Brand), as hare, er, heir apparent. But E.B. aspires to be a rock 'n' roll drummer instead, so he hightails it to Los Angeles.
There he literally bumps into Fred O'Hare (James Marsden), who accidentally hits E.B. with his car. An out-of-work slacker with daddy issues of his own, Fred reluctantly lets the wascally wabbit stay at the mansion he's house-sitting. Havoc and hilarity ensue. The two eventually bond to help save the Easter Bunny, whose second-in-command, a Hispanic chick named Carlos (Hank Azaria), hatches a coup.
A capable cast gives Hop a slight spring in its step. Brand imbues the silly trickster rabbit with heart, and Marsden is clearly game for any gags, including stale ones, though he's a little old to play the dude still mooching off the 'rents.
The pic seamlessly blends live-action and CGI, but plot elements aren't as cohesive. The unimaginative story hophazardly tosses in familiar songs, pop-culture references and cheesy cameos, including a wax-like David Hasselhoff.
Hop also evokes other, better movies with its Wonka-like candy factory, Danny Elfman-esque score and odd nod to Fatal Attraction's bunny-boiling scene. Eeek. It even cribs from Christmas mythology instead of inventing its own—chick workers subbing for elves and Father Easter's egg sleigh pulled by a fleet of peepers.
Probably best viewed while hopped up on sugar, Hop is as colorful, artificial and manufactured as Easter confections.
The 180—a Second Opinion: It's great to see Big's Elizabeth Perkins back on the big screen, and Gary Cole is always comedy gold, even though they're underused here as Fred's frustrated folks.
WATCH NOW: Russell Dishes On His Animated Journey in Hop

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