Editor’s Note: In-house movie critic Ken Henderson is here today with a movie review just in time for Easter. Hippity Hop. Enjoy.
For any parent out there who was wondering what excuse they’d need to get their kids to eat more candy, soda and or popcorn over Easter weekend here’s your solution. Finally… an animated movie about Easter, well live action mixed with animation anyhow.
HOP is Illumination Entertainment’s latest offering and with the great ‘Despicable Me’ being their first my expectations were… well, measured for this film. I’d seen the trailers after all and live action/animated films never seem to have the same charm as ones that stick to a single visual construct. Hey… look at that, I actually used some film school terminology in a review! Anyhow… back to the movie.
HOP follows the story of two sons seeking their fathers approval. One, a rabbit named E.B. voiced by Russell Brand, strives to have his father let him pursue his dream of becoming a drummer instead of following in the floppy footsteps of his father to become the next Easter Bunny while the other, a human named Fred O’Hare played by James Marsden, hopes his father will just let him find his way without the constant criticism of his slacker lifestyle.
Through a series of circumstances Fred and E.B. quite literally run into each other and their fateful journey of friendship and discovery begins. If that sounds familiar, don’t worry, it is.
E.B., having left… you guessed it… Easter Island, to follow his dream is pursued by a trio of Pink Beret wearing Ninja bunnies who are trying to bring him home. This trio brings few laughs and even less action or tension and as such their role in the film is a bit of a letdown… especially considering that they are pretty well the only woman in the show (other than Fred’s sister and mother).
Back on Easter Island E.B.’s father is left wondering what went wrong while planning to deliver another Easter to the world. His trusty team of chicks is ready to help but their self appointed leader Carlos, plans to take advantage of E.B.’s absence and have the chicks take control of Easter once and for all. Unfortunately the chicks feel like a weak attempt to rip-off the brilliantly devious Penguins from Madagascar and it’s a comparison that leaves them wanting.
Neither has the ability to fly but the Penguins characters soared while these chicks barely ruffle a feather. Meanwhile back in Hollywood E.B. has convinced Fred to let him try out for ‘Hoff Knows Talent’ and Fred begins to think that his destiny may be the one that E.B. wants to give up on. What follows is a fairly predictable series of events that culminates in E.B. and Fred working together to save Easter from Carlos and his nefarious scheme.
Overall HOP is a safe and formulaic (hey, two film school terms!) film with not a lot of sophistication for the parents who are bringing their kids to see it. The visuals are there to be sure with some great animation and hey, you get to see the Easter egg factory! That alone might be worth the 60.00 you’ve shelled out.
The soundtrack, when playing pop tunes for E.B. to play drums to, is up beat and engaging but when the original score kicks in its back to the predictable which was a let down as well. All and all with a relatively unique concept the film failed to meet its potential for me but I do think younger kids will really enjoy it. The team at Illumination Entertainment has poured on the sweetness and left anything that might upset a kiddo out so you have absolutely nothing to worry about for kids of any age.
As far as the lessons go well they’re for all those father/son relationships out there. Basically, give your son space for him to define himself and you won’t end up with a chocolate egg all over your face. Granted any father who drives their son to seek the approval of David Hasselhoff to validate their career choice… well, I’m not sure what message that’s trying to send but I’m sure it can’t be a good one.
The film runs around 95 minutes and is rated a very easy G
Rating: 3 Big Earths
Production house: Illumination Entertainment (‘Despicable Me’)
Directed by: Tim Hill
Written by: Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio, Brian Lynch
Music by: Christopher Lennertz (but there is a pop-focused soundtrack as well with loads of known tunes)