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'Hop' bounces into obscurity



Article Published: Apr. 7, 2011 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
'Hop' bounces into obscurity

Russell Brand and James Marsden star in 'Hop.'



frank@mountaintimes.com

I presently can't recall the last Easter-themed movie I watched.

Whatever it was, it didn't involve egg-shaped sleighs drawn by a cadre of chirping chicks to deliver Easter baskets to the unsuspecting masses.

But credit should be given where it's due. It's not often you see an Easter movie, and it's less often you see such a bizarre interpretation - and commercialization - of a prominent Christian holiday that's not Christmas.

"Hop" has everything modern children love - dancing computer-generated animals, pratfalls and bunnies crapping jelly beans, complete with an easily accessible moral wrapped neatly in Easter hay.
Adults, however, aren't likely to fare as well. As far as comedy goes, "Hop" offers nothing new, simply retreading a tired formula and slapping a new label on it.

This accepting-responsibility formula - presented in a combination of live action and animation - involves teenage rabbit E.B. (voiced by a neutered Russell Brand, "Get Him to the Greek"), heir to the Easter Bunny throne, who'd rather shirk his birthright to pursue a career in drumming.

Based on Easter Island, the Easter Bunny (voiced by Hugh Laurie, TV's "House, M.D.") runs a high-tech underground workshop, wherein Easter baskets and candies are assembled by a workforce of fuzzy, yellow chicks, led by the power-hungry Carlos (voiced by Hank Azaria, TV's "The Simpsons").

The Easter Bunny disapproves of E.B.'s ambitions, prompting E.B. to run away to Hollywood, where he meets his human counterpart, a 30-something, chronically unemployed slacker named Fred O'Hare (James Marsden, "X-Men").

Shenanigans ensue, and Fred reluctantly agrees to help E.B. pursue his dream, by helping him audition for "The Hoff Knows Talent," a reality TV series starring, you guessed it, David Hasselhoff (TV's "Knight Rider").

As E.B. chases his dream, Fred struggles with finding one of his own, and insistent nagging from his parents (Gary Cole, "Office Space," and Elizabeth Perkins, Showtime's "Weeds") only adds to his woes.

But when Carlos stages a coup d'état on Easter Island, it's up to E.B. and Fred to realize their inherent potential and save not only the day, but Easter, as well.

As ludicrous as the story may seem, "Hop" is not without merit. Marsden and Brand deliver likeable performances, even with Brand's trademark vulgarity stifled by a PG rating.

Standing on its own, the animation is superb. It's when veteran kids' director Tim Hill ("Alvin and the Chipmunks") crosses it with live action that disparity glares like a garishly painted Easter egg.

Computer animation has yet to reach the level where its manifestations actually seem tangible.

"Hop" is case in point, save for one scene in which Fred's sister (Kaley Cuoco, TV's "The Big Bang Theory") mistakes E.B. for a stuffed animal. Apart from that, the disconnect between animated and physical characters is glaring.

This and its other shortcomings make "Hop" a forgettable entry in cinema, but, for better or worse, the kids don't seem to mind.

"Hop," rated PG for some mild rude humor, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone.

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