Saturday, April 02, 2011


Caught in the Act

Just as how Santa Claus stories work through their way through the Christmas period, Hop brings forward the Easter season some three weeks early with a kids film that combines the best of live action and animation in yet another talking animal story, which is something quite expected when you combine filmmakers who had worked on Alvin and the Chipmunks, and the producers of Despicable Me, who probably would have floated the idea that cute yellow things make for comedic villains since they're going against type.

Hop is a tale about sons being unable to live up to the ideals of their fathers, being told what is expected, being seen as soft and unable to exert any say in what they really want to do in life. When we first see EB (or short for Easter Bunny, voiced by Russell Brand), "plush toy" comes to mind for its incredibly cute design when the wide eyed bunny tours and allows the audience to see first hand what would be the equivalent of Santa's operations that the Easter Bunny adopts, with multitudes of chocolate and candy making machines all outsourced not to elves, but to chicks to operate and churn them out, before making deliveries in one single day to all the kids.

But as EB grows up, his propensity to take on the family business, or rather his calling in life, takes a hit and wanes because he aspires to dabble in music and play drums. Rather than take over from his father, he runs away to Hollywood to seek out his fortunes and thereby putting Easter potentially on hold, and bumps into Fred O'Hare (James Marsden), who is also kicked out of his family home because his father and family members find it a tad ridiculous that he mucks around home for the last one year doing nothing. So it's a chance meeting of two similar sons set to prove themselves in a whole new world, and bring about the usual kids theme of friendship, perserverance, and plenty of juvenile comedy. Look out for David Hasselhoff playing himself, and the requisite cute bunnies collectively known as the Pink Berets who would probably steal the show.

I have to admit though that some of the jokes do work, since it's quite a wide spectrum from the usual toilet humour - EB poops delicious, multi-flavoured candy! - to a hilarious get up of the song I Love Candy with the duo continuing a ruse from earlier involving EB pretending to be a plush toy. This aspect of the film compensates for the lack of sophistication of the plot which for some weird reason has Fred not being satisfied with having validated that he's not crazy with his young time witnessing of the Easter Bunny going about his one day routine, but desiring to instead become a bunny himself.

That brought about what I thought was the most direct reference back to Despicable Me with the mindless bantering amongst the minions of the Easter Bunny's factory, where second in command Carlos (Hank Azaria), in the absence of EB and his dad getting old, secretly coverts a plot to usurp the festivity and run the entire show himself. While the minions have different designs and varying degrees of intelligence, the chicks here adopt a uniform look, and as expected there's always a smart alecky character to become cannon fodder for laughs.

Besides priming itself for a respectable box office result when the Easter holiday rolls along, what this film would probably successfuly do is to ramp up demand for rabbits and chicks amongst its targeted demographic, so parents, do spare a thought and taper those short term wants. Strictly for the kids. Do stay tuned until after the end credits for a scene to witness James Marsden's Mandarin diction.

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