Hop (review)

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Hare Apparent

If you are seeking a big honking Easter basket full of WTF for this glorious spring holiday season — and who isn’t? — have I got a movie for you. There’s a whole mess of goodies — emphasis on the mess — to be found in Hop, a bizarrely strained mishmash of animation and live action covered in a hard candy shell of incoherence and crass unmagical calculation. Anthropomorphized male animals who disgustingly find human women sexually attractive. An Easter Bunny who shits jelly beans. Easter Island as the HQ of the traveling spring rodent. It’s funny because the island is named Easter and also because the Easter Bunny must have a magic workshop somewhere and the North Pole is already taken. Har. Also too: Rocket sleigh pulled by magical ducks or something. And it’s also a rocket. And there’s wormholes somehow involved.

The bunny? It burns. Bad.
It’s not exactly Willy Wonka-esque, but it’s trying to be. Apparently James Marsden (Death at a Funeral, The Box), who is at least 15 years too old to be playing this role, is a confused slacker who hasn’t decided what to do with his life yet, and his parents are still trying to kick him out of the house at the advanced age of 36. (Or, at least, Marsden is 36. And he does not have a baby face that lets him pass for younger. Even an Adam Sandler character at this point is married with kids, even if he’s just another kid for his put-upon but saintly wife to corral.) But maybe Fred, ahem, O’Hare would like to be the Easter Bunny. Because it’s something that children aspire to, like being an astronaut or a ballerina. It sounds like a pretty awesome job, in fact, because you only work one day a year and there’s a candy workshop on Easter Island, manned by a slave labor force of eternal chicks that never grow into chickens (because chickens aren’t cute, maybe), so you don’t even have to spend your whole life shitting out jelly beans. (Why there needs to be a magical rabbit endeavor to make Hershey’s Kisses is never made clear.)

But in fact Hop — from a “master” of melding CGI critters and unfortunate actors, Tim Hill (Alvin and the Chipmunks, Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties) — fails to elucidate why it’s so terrible a job that the new Easter Bunny, E.B. (the voice of Russell Brand: The Tempest, Despicable Me), would rather be a drummer in a rock band than take up his father’s (the voice of Hugh Laurie: Monsters vs. Aliens, Street Kings) candy-distribution business. Which is why E.B. runs away to Hollywood and meets Fred, who freaks out at the talking bunny in the band T-shirt and no trousers and then insists that other humans must never know about the talking bunny (even though all parents who celebrate Easter must realize that someone Not Them is leaving Easter baskets on Easter morning) and then proceeds to carry out an Important Conversation key to Advancing The Plot in a busy greasy-spoon diner, where E.B. — who is, I remind you, a rabbit in a T-shirt and no trousers — interacts with the waitress and the world entirely fails to take notice.

I just don’t know where the hell anyone involved was imagining the magic was going to come from here. Why is there a joke about Playboy bunnies, which works on no level at all? (A pop-culture-savvy guy like E.B. should already know why he doesn’t qualify as a Playboy bunny, and no children’s movie needs even so much as a voice appearance by Hugh Hefner. No.) It’s all like a movie for very very slow people, or for people who’ve never seen a movie before and so can find magic in the flickering lights and how it moves! It moves! And the rabbit talks! And it shits out jelly beans! Who knew.

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