CGI bunnies send mixed messages.
It’s not hard to figure out that Hop is a film for kids. After all, it stars plenty of CGI bunnies and chicks (and I mean baby chickens, all you misogynists). However, as is the case with many “kids” movies, adult in–jokes are included for the parents. In this instance, trying to mix kids fare with grown–up themes is not very successful: much of the dialogue is clunky, the inclusion of certain scenes is inexplicable and Hop may just be a little bit racist.
Fred O’Hare (James Marsden) is an unemployed slacker who shows no real interest in ever being anything else. Well, he does have one dream: after he sees the Easter Bunny making the candy rounds on Easter morning, he decides that he wants to follow in his footsteps. He would gladly switch places with E.B. (voiced by Russell Brand), who as his name suggests, is next in line to be Easter Bunny (which is apparently an inherited title). E.B. has no interest in his dad’s line of work and bolts for Hollywood, hoping to hit it big as a drummer. After getting run over by Fred, E.B. fakes an injury to convince Fred to take him in. Complicating the picture is Carlos (Hank Azaria), a managerial chick in the Easter factory who wants to be the Easter Bunny himself.
If the plot sounds thin, that’s because it is. This is not always a bad thing, as most of the film’s entertainment is derived from Fred and E.B. roving around almost aimlessly, getting each other into trouble. Other scenes hover between harmlessly boring and poorly thought–out. In one such scene, Fred and E.B. cruelly humiliate Fred’s little sister during her school play for the sake of getting a gaggle of grade–schoolers to sing “I Want Candy.”
The biggest issue with Hop is that it will no doubt send some very strange messages to kids. The writer may have been going for “follow your dreams and never settle,” but he accidentally ended up with “certain people are suited for particular things because of their race.” When Carlos expresses his desire to be the Easter Bunny, the current one (voiced by Hugh Laurie in his natural, imperialistic British accent) laughs in his face. When Carlos attempts to usurp his power, he actually grows huge ears and buckteeth, because the Easter Bunny just has to be a damn bunny. The idea of a chick in a position traditionally held by rabbits is portrayed as plain wrong. The movie’s ubiquitous and odd focus on race doesn’t help its case.
So is Hop racist? Innocently half–baked? Or is a chick asking to be a bunny like Philip Seymour Hoffman asking to play Malcolm X? Food for thought.
Directed by: Tim Hill
Starring: Russell Brand, James Marsden, Hank Azaria
Rated PG, 90 min.