Mark Reviews Movies

Hop (2011)

HOP (2011)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Director: Tim Hill

Cast: James Marsden, Kaley Cuoco, Gary Cole, Elizabeth Perkins, the voices of Russell Brand, Hank Azaria, Hugh Laurie

MPAA Rating: PG (for some mild rude humor)

Running Time: 1:35

Release Date: 4/1/11

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Review by Mark Dujsik | March 31, 2011

Hop is not the first alleged children's movie to feature a scene of someone eating an animal's droppings (It is not even the first from director Tim Hill to do so; that's saying something—not sure what specifically but something nonetheless), and at least the fecal matter in question here comes in the form of jelly beans. "At least" is not exactly praise-worthy, but at least (There it is again) it's not worth a wholly disgusted reaction either.

That's the dilemma presented by this underachiever of a comic fantasy, which is not near the low level of some of the junk that's been aimed at kids lately but isn't a beacon of good taste (From the reaction of the character who unknowingly eats them, the feces in question, by the way, do taste like regular jelly beans, in case you were wondering) or even effective comic sensibility. Hop has sequences of bright and colorful cheerfulness at a massive factory of confectionary joy (This Easter Bunny mythos borrows liberally from elements of what we usually associate with Mr. Claus) mixed with a harmless story of following one's dreams, no matter how outlandish they may seem. Those, then, are offset by hollow pop culture references and a streak of crude (poop eating) gags or ones against tone.

It starts with a young boy witnessing the Easter Bunny (voice of Hugh Laurie) making an entrance to his backyard on a flying sleigh pulled by fluffy, yellow chicks (I told you it borrowed). The image is burned into the boy's memory, and even 20 years later, Fred O'Hare (James Marsden), unemployed and living at home with his parents, still remembers. Get a job and move out, dad (Gary Cole) and mom (Elizabeth Perkins) say, and sister Sam (Kaley Cuoco) gives him a lead—an entry-level post at a video game company—and a place to stay—the palatial mansion of her boss who needs a dog- and house-sitter.

Meanwhile on Easter Island (Where else would the Easter Bunny live?), the Easter Bunny is preparing to crown his son E.B. (voice of Russell Brand) the new hippity-hoppity king of Easter. E.B., though, is more intent on playing the drums and joining a band, so with the pressure to be a perfect leporine representation of holiday joy, E.B. takes a trip down a high-tech rabbit hole to Hollywood to pursue his musical ambitions. There, Fred literally runs into him with his car, and E.B. becomes an unwelcome house guest.

Their relationship gets off on the wrong foot with the first example of those odd moments of humor. E.B., noting the digs Fred is about to pull into, feigns a more serious injury and unconscious, leading Fred to grab the nearest large rock to put the poor creature out of its misery. In the realm of fun, holiday-themed entertainment, attempted mercy killing is a notable, out-of-place joke.

On the other end is Carlos (voice of Hank Azaria), the not-so-trustworthy floor manager of the Easter Bunny's factory. He's a larger-than-average chick with megalomaniacal dreams to pass by the species requirements of the Easter Bunny's job description and take on the role. After multiple failures of trying to attract the Easter Bunny's attention in subversively subtle (suggesting E.B.'s betrayal of his responsibilities and father are unforgivable) and not-so subtle (putting on a fake pair of rabbit ears) ways, he eventually stages a workers' revolt at the sweets plant, a sequences which makes up the movie's climax and also involves some kind of magical scepter that endows the possessor with the powers of the Easter Bunny (which does not, apparently, include longevity, since all these animals survive well past their typical life expectancy without any supernatural aid).

The whole of the movie is in this hit-and-miss vein, or when a certain gag doesn't quite come together because of a lack of definition or a sense of familiarity (and there are a lot of those kind), it is not overtly obnoxious (The jelly bean thing is a prime example). For E.B.'s attempt to pretend to be a mechanized doll to get closer to Sam, there's Fred's job interview, which E.B. infiltrates and unintentionally sabotages by making Fred appear insane. For the scenes with the Pink Berets, the Easter Bunny's elite special guard that shoots blowguns at their opponents, there are the ones with David Hasselhoff, playing himself playing a joke and not quite getting what the joke is (The result is that the joke is him, and it's not a funny one, either).

Hop is inoffensive, if at times a bit off-putting, and it could be worse. That's not intended as praise—just a sigh of mild relief.

Copyright © 2011 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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