We’ve all been there, that moment in time when destiny knocks on the door and we’d rather just yell “go away, I already have plans!” so it’s easy to identify with “E.B.”, the drum-playing rocker in the lead role of Hop. His destiny? He’s to take over from his Dad as the Easter Bunny. But he really wants to hit it big as a rock drummer, not distribute candy and be responsible for year round production of candy, toys and other Easter stuff.
I was surprised by how much I liked this witty, amusing hybrid animation film. It’s mostly real-action, but Easter world (located, logically enough, below Easter Island) is all painstakingly rendered computer animation. If you remember Who Framed Roger Rabbit, it’s astonishing to see how far we’ve come with animation/real-life blending.
E.G. (voiced by Russell Brand) jumps through a hyperspace portal (or something like that) and pops out at the foot of the iconic Hollywood sign. He’s ready to be discovered as the next big drummer! In parallel, we meet slacker Fred O’Hare (James Marsden), a personable 20-something who is wasting his life, still living with his parents, and finding excuses to reject any job opportunity that comes along. His parents, Bonnie (Elizabeth Perkins) and Henry (Gary Cole) arrange an “intervention”, along with sister Sam (Kaley Cuoco) and smart-alek adopted sister Alex (Tiffany Espensen). Time to get a job.
Meanwhile, back on Easter Island, Easter chick Carlos (voice of Hank Azaria) is plotting to take over the factory, a Marxism-lite coup-d’état where the worker chicks are going to throw out the bunny bosses, and the hilarious Pink Berets have been sent to find E.B. and bring him back before they miss Easter entirely. Think “cute, cute, cute” and you’re on the right track with both of these subplots.
Fred bumps into E.B. on his way to a housesitting job and the results are comic and lighthearted. Sure, there are the obligatory sophomoric jokes commonly found in children’s films (E.B. poops jellybeans, which Sam unwittingly eats. “MMMmm… cherry!”) but it’s all lively, fun and engaging. My test audience of four 11yo boys all gave it a thumbs up. Hop is the kind of family film that we don’t see too often, one that addresses serious issues in a delightful manner, with plenty of visual jokes to keep parents engaged and a cute storyline for the younger kids.
I think Marsden has a natural charm about him … which makes his well suited for material like this. Think he deserves a shot at a quality rom-com (assuming we’ll ever see another one of those!)