Movie Review: 'Hop'
Filed under: Movies
Rated ON for Ages 5 and Up
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this live-action/computer-animation hybrid Easter comedy has a positive message about reaching for your dreams. Characters occasionally use insults like "idiot," "stupid," and "freak," and there's some slapstick violence and one brief scene in which it looks like the Easter Bunny might be in trouble -- but even kids will be able to tell that everything will be OK. In one early scene, E.B. tries to get into the Playboy mansion because he thinks it's a haven for rabbits, but only adults will get the related jokes, and nothing risque is shown. Although the movie is Easter-themed, it doesn't include any references to the holiday's religious meaning (which could be a plus or a minus, depending on your family's own beliefs).
The good stuff
- Educational value: The most important lesson is really for parents, not kids -- that they should be open-minded with their children and support their career choices. On a tiny note, little kids may be curious about Easter Island and whether it's a real place.
- Messages: The movie has several positive messages revolving around family and personal aspirations. E.B. and Fred both prove that if you believe that you can accomplish "big things," with enough determination, you'll be able to achieve your dreams.
- Role models: Sam is a good sister who tries to help her brother, even after their parents have given him an ultimatum. Fred is the typical "failure to launch" kind of guy who hasn't grown up yet, but he rises to the occasion to save Easter.
What to watch out for
- Violence & scariness: Fred thinks that he has nearly run over E.B. and says that he's going to "end his suffering" by taking him out of his misery, but then E.B. springs to life and starts talking. In a comedic sequence, Carlos the Chick rounds up the bunnies and tries to kill E.B. Ninja-like bunnies spit sedative darts that land in a couple of characters. A character is slapped on the cheek.
- Sexy stuff: E.B. flirts with Fred's sister, Sam, and sniffs her hair when she hugs him.
- Language: Insults like "stupid," "lazy," "idiot," and "freak."
- Consumerism: Fred's Volvo station wagon is featured in several scenes. The Playboy mansion is mentioned in one scene, but nothing is shown except the gates and the bunny logo.
- Drinking, drugs, & smoking: There are a few family dinners at which everyone's got drinks in front of them, but it's unclear whether or not they're alcoholic.
The Easter Bunny (voiced by Hugh Laurie) lives on Easter Island, preparing for another year's trip around the world to deliver baskets full of treats. He's preparing his son, E.B. (Russell Brand), to succeed him, but E.B. isn't interested in taking over for his father -- he wants to be a drummer. Afraid of his father's expectations, E.B. takes a rabbit hole trip to Hollywood, where he hopes to make it big as a rock musician. Instead, he almost gets run over by Fred (James Marsden), an aimless twentysomething whose parents would really like him to move out and get a job. Fred can't believe his eyes (and ears) when E.B. starts talking to him, and the two of them end up becoming unlikely friends who help each other save Easter -- and their goals for a fulfilling career.
Is It Any Good?
Director Tim Hill is a kids' flick veteran, and, after "Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties" and "Alvin and the Chipmunks," somewhat of an "expert" at comedies that feature both live-action and computer-animated creatures. It's a shame that most movies that attempt that form of hybridization (Yogi Bear, Marmaduke) are just plain awful, but in a way "Hop" benefits from the low expectations that adult moviegoers will have for this subgenre of family films. Still, while it's unquestionably better than the atrocious "Yogi" and passably better than "Marmaduke," ultimately it's just a generic holiday movie with a bunny swapped in for good ol' St. Nick.
Marsden is a talented, appealing actor. He's one of those dashing-looking types who's best known for supporting roles ("Enchanted," "X-Men," "Hairspray") and can pull off most characters with his easy charm. So it's a tad ludicrous that he was cast as Fred, since the 37-year-old in no way looks like an early-to-mid-20s slacker, and the role would have been more believable in the hands of a lovable loser-style comedian. His miscasting aside, the movie manages to be amusing enough thanks to Marsden's rapport with Brand, who raises his voice to sound a bit younger as the rock-loving adolescent bunny. Special mention must go the voice-talent genius of Hank Azaria, who plays Carlos the Chick, the Easter Bunny's candy-factory foreman who wants to usurp E.B. as the next Easter Bunny. Azaria makes Carlos the scene-stealer of this lighthearted jellybean of a comedy.
This review of "Hop" was written by Sandie Angulo Chen.
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