There must be something in the Easter candy I've been nibbling on intermittently for the past couple weeks. Normally, I have no desire to see movies aimed at the 12-and-under demographic, but for some strange reason I genuinely wanted to see the digital-animation-meets-live-action Easter film Hop. Perhaps it's because Easter has (arguably) the best candy that I'm sweetened up enough to watch an animated bunny bang the drums.
The Easter Bunny (voiced by Hugh Laurie) plans to step down and pass along the family business to his son E.B. (voiced by Russell Brand). Yet, E.B. dreams not of delivering Cadbury eggs, but of being a rock drummer. On the eve of his coronation, E.B. jumps down the proverbial rabbit hole on Easter Island (yep, complete with those giant stone heads) and lands in Hollywood where he meets Fred (James Marsden), an unemployed slacker. Fred reluctantly agrees to help the bunny audition for David Hasselhoff's new reality talent show. Meanwhile, back on Easter Island an evil chick named Carlos plots to usurp the throne and take over as the first avian Easter "bunny."
In his role as E.B., Brand succeeds in being the least annoying that he's ever been on film. On the downside, his character doesn't benefit from his uniquely spirited and abrasive personality. E.B. can rock the drum kit, but he fails to deliver any truly hilarious lines. In one somewhat memorable scene, Fred's sister Sam (Kaley Cuoco) cuddles up to E.B., thinking he's a stuffed toy. The ensuing awkwardness gets a few good laughs, but leaves viewers wanting more.
Most frequently, supporting and smaller roles provide the best comic relief, which is why I had high hopes for the cast of Hop. Chelsea Handler, my favorite comic, has a small role as Mrs. Beck, a woman who interviews Fred for a job at a video game company and Elizabeth Perkins of Showtime's Weeds plays Fred's mother. Yet, both actresses were under-utilized and could have brought more life to the film. The same goes for Cuoco.
While Hop is cute and elementary-school-aged kids will love it, I didn't find myself laughing out loud. The old family-obligations-versus-Hollywood-dreams storyline didn't bring anything new or revolutionary. But, odds are that you'll leave the theater feelings a little sweeter. If not, you still have a couple weeks until Easter, which means plenty of time to load up on chocolate eggs.
Starring Russell Brand, James Marsden, Kaley Cuoco
Directed by Tim Hill