“Hop,” a new Easter themed flick starring Russell Brand and James Marsden, is probably the only kid’s movie to feature a scene set at the Playboy Mansion. You see, it’s about a wayward rabbit named EB (voice of Russell Brand) searching for a place to live and since bunnies live at Hef’s place it seems like the perfect place for him to crash. Funny? Not really, but that’s what passes for jokes in the literal minded “Hop.”
The movie starts on Easter Island—there’s that literal thinking again—the home base of the Easter Bunny (voice of Hugh Laurie) and his son EB. On the other side of the planet Fred O’Hare (James Marsden) is an unemployed SoCal slacker house sitting for his sister’s wealthy boss. Both EB and Fred have one thing in common—daddy issues. EB wants to be a drummer but his father wants him to come into the family business and Fred’s dad wants him to get a job—any job. When EB and Fred hook up in Hollywood the pair might be able to help one another with their problems and in the process save Easter.
“Hop” feels more like an hour-and-a-half advertisement for plush stuffed bunnies than it does a movie. EB and his bunny and Easter chick friends are cute but clearly more time was spent on the marketing angle than the story.
It’s not that the story is bad really, it’s just average, like it was an afterthought. Movies for kids have taken strides forward in recent years but “Hop” feels like a jump backwards. Its humor and broad acting style is directed at little kids, yet the movie is rated PG, which means that parents can’t just send their kids solo. Grown-ups might get a chuckle out of EB’s jellybean gag—he poops jellybeans and says at one point, “I just jellybeaned all over your dreams”—but the odd cameo from David Hasselhoff—he’s going for the William Shatner self-aware shtick—is as funny as you’d imagine a cameo from The Hoff to be. Trust me, there’s not much here for anyone over 4 years old. “Harvey” this ain’t.
There are many reasons to hate “Hop.” Some will find the secularization of Easter offensive; some will be annoyed by the obvious shilling for Easter Bunnies Are Us but the real reason to dislike the movie is that it a lame and lazy excuse for children’s entertainment. Kids get fed enough pabulum in their formative years, they don’t need it at the movies as well.