Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Directed by: Tim Hill
Starring: Russell Brand, James Marsden, Hank Azaria
It’s surprising that there aren’t more films about the Easter Bunny. After all, childhood myth dictates that the Bunny does for Easter what Santa does for Christmas. Yet, while tales of Santa have lined the pockets of Tim Allen for most of my childhood, this is the first film I’ve seen to centre on the fluffy deliveryman of all our Easter Eggs. It’s a real shame then that with so many potential narrative possibilities, Tim Hill’s film is nothing more than a retread of his previous film Alvin & The Chipmunks with the Easter Bunny replacing the furry threesome.
E.B. is the teenage son of the Easter Bunny, who lives on Easter Island (where else?) and is expected to soon take up his father’s mantle. Keen to make something more of his life, notably become a rock ‘n’ roll drummer, E.B. heads for Hollywood where he meets up with out-of-work slacker Fred. Together they will help each other learn what it takes to finally grow up. Maybe kudos should be given to the writer for foregoing any sort of romantic sub-plot, the closest we get to an interesting female character being Fred’s sister Sam and she’s really only added in as someone else to frown on Fred’s inability to grow up.
As the voice of E.B., Russell Brand is a catastrophic bit of miscasting. His all-to-recognizable voice takes the audience out of the narrative and means it’s hard to get lost in E.B.’s story. James Marsden fairs much better as E.B.’s human counterpart, making for a lazy but likable lead. Meanwhile, Hank Azaria brings gusto as the voice of a villain that feels more like an afterthought and the less said about The Hoff’s cameo, the better.
Problems in narrative also stretch further than the fact that this is an obvious rehash of Alvin & The Chipmunks; for the most part Hop is just a film of barely amusing set-pieces with intermittent scenes of Marsden bickering with a CGI bunny. The animation is well rendered and looks smooth on screen, and it will certainly help the child members of the audience; the scenes in the Easter factory are particularly impressive with the animator’s use of colours being memorably striking.
It’s not without the odd joke that’ll bring a smile to older viewers, but for the most part Hop feels lazy and that’s what really disappoints me. Kids will no doubt find it a hoot, but whereas Pixar and DreamWorks aim their films at all ages & demographics, Hop feels like an unashamed cash cow.