Review: Hop

There isn't a good way for me to work Dead Prez's "It's bigger than hip-hop" into this opening paragraph, though I truly wish there was. Instead, we must go the PG route, muzzled like so much Russell Brand voice-over work, dutifully noting that Hop is a solid little children's film. It successfully weaves a heretofore unwoven origin tale into the narrative of Easter, though of course this version is all bunnies, eggs, and chickadees. If you're aged five to ten, I could see you having a nice time with this. If you're a parent or guardian, there are at least a dozen laughs available for you too. Let's hop to that synopsis.

E.B. (voiced by R.B.) is a young bunny on Easter Island. His father is THE Easter Bunny, the big kahuna, the rabbit who travels the world to give the children chocolate. E.B. is next in line, it's a hereditary title, but he'd rather play the drums. On the night before the transfer of Easter Bunny power, E.B. decides to flee to Hollywood to pursue his dream. He stops at The Playboy Mansion (naturally) before mournfully realizing it's tough out there for a runaway bunny. That's when James Marsden almost plows into him with his Volvo station wagon. A quick deal is struck wherein Marsden is released from the guilt of almost maiming E.B. in exchange for a place to stay. Marsden, a down on his luck "kid at heart", is housesitting a mansion near Tinsel Town. That's a swell coincidence!

Now then, I do enjoy my Russell Brand bawdy (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek) but there's something to be said for his toned down English humor here as well. The writing is quick and clever, recalling Despicable Me, and the rest of the children's tropes (A larger inspirational message, parental figures not understanding) can be easily ignored once you're ensconced in the spirit of the thing. There's a Wonka-esque opening sequence, and many "in" Easter jokes to be had. Of particular delight was the voice work of Hank Azaria (as The Easter Bunny's second in command) and a continual site gag called "The Pink Berets".

Still, it is hard to imagine Easter having the same sort of children's cinema run that Christmas has had. The mythology of Christmas is so firmly embedded in pop culture that most holiday films don't bother to introduce the context, whereas Hop is working with a lesser mythos. Bunnies and candy don't ever quite equal a full day of presents, caroling, and Ol' Saint Nick. And Rudolph! And Frosty! Don't even get me started on The Grinch. Still, what Hop most resembles is ABC's Prep and Landing, a solid 30-minute special from last year that broke new ground on the trodden "Santa and his Helpers" tales.

It's just about time for me to hop-a-long (Warning: pun limit reached) so I'm pleased to announce that Hop works as a PG Easter tale. Kids will love Brand's frenetic drumming take on E.B., adults will love that there are a few clandestine adult jokes. Bonus: it's not in 3-D, so it won't cost you extra. I'd cheer for a sequel if I thought there was any real chance. Then again, I didn't see any real way this would come off as entertaining, and it did, so I'm clearly not the droid you're looking for there. That's all folks!

Grade: B