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April 2, 2011

I’m thinking hard, and I can’t really come up with any notable Easter movies. There aren’t standard television fixtures in the weeks leading up to the holiday itself, and the whole pseudo-secular story around the Easter Bunny thing isn’t all that fleshed out, the way Santa Claus is. After watching Hop, I’m thinking maybe there’s a good reason for that.

In a stunning lack of originality, the whole Easter Bunny mythic has been fleshed out by lifting it wholesale from Santa Claus. There’s a secluded factory — on Rapa Nui, of course — where a veritable army of bunnies and chicks manufacture chocolate and candy for delivery overnight on Easter, all over the world. There’s even a magic flying sleigh. And the Easter Bunny himself wears a basically Victorian outfit. At least the old one (Hugh Laurie) does. His son E.B. (Russell Brand) wears a plaid flannel straight out of mid-’90s Seattle and would rather be a rock drummer. When push comes to shove, E.B. runs off to Hollywood rather than take up the Egg of Destiny — I wish I were kidding.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Fred O’Hare (James Marsden) is spinning his wheels aimlessly. His parents (Gary Cole and Elizabeth Perkins) decide to shove him out of the nest, but his sister (Kaley Cuoco) let’s him take over for her housesitting at her boss’ Beverly Hills mansion while he looks for a job.

Fred and E.B., of course, are thrown together, and hijinks ensue. Fred is basically a slacker with no worthwhile story beyond coping with the havoc E.B. wreaks. E.B., on the other hand, is on the run from the elite Pink Berets and trying to score an audition with David Hasselhoff (himself). And back on Easter Island there’s also the matter of a workers’ revolution by the chicks, led by the factory foreman, Carlos (Hank Azaria).

The whole thing is a mess from the start. There’s barely a single character fleshed out past the casting call stereotypes. The story has no real coherence beyond stumbling from one gag into another, not to mention the enormous plot holes that don’t even hold up until the credits roll.

And this is especially disappointing, since last year Illumination Entertainment introduced itself with Despicable Me. Hop shows none of the creativity and even wonder from that movie. Not only did Despicable Me have Steve Carell’s Gru, but three engaging little girls and a cast of minions to boot. Hop doesn’t even provide us with E.B.’s mother. We all know that rabbits multiply, but evidently we’re not supposed to remember how exactly they do it.

The problem is that despite the marketing, it’s not actually “from the creators of Despicable Me“. Illumination Entertainment provided funding, yes, but it evidently controls nothing of the production process. Instead, the film should be marked as “from the creators of Alvin and the Chipmunks“, not to mention Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties and Muppets from Space. Yes, this is the man who can make a mediocre, tedious movie starring the Muppets. With weak material and a director like this, Hop never even had a chance to do anything but flop.

Worth It: no.
Bechdel Test: fail.

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