Movie Review - Hop (**)

Hey folks - Hammer here.  Saw this one with my son on Saturday.  It's exactly what you'd expect from the director of Alvin & the Chipmunks - live action/animation hybrid nonsense.  What's amazing is that they cast Russell Brand, James Marsden, and Hank Azaria and there's not one single funny joke in the whole movie.  The only time my audience laughed is when the main character, E.B. the bunny, acts like a stuffed animal and looks cute.  Even my nearly 3 year-old son was kind of bored with this one.  And the whole Hoff Knows Talent subplot (with, who else?, David Hasselhoff) is beyond stupid.  ** stars.

Here's my Uncle's full review...
BY ROBERT HAMMERLE, guest contributor to Hammervision

"Hop" is to Easter what Tim Allen's increasingly frivolous "Santa Clause" movies were to Christmas. ["The Santa Clause" (1994), "The Santa Clause 2" (2002) and "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause" (2006)]. It functions as light-weight entertainment that most kids will find harmless fun judging by the sold out theater I sat in with my two grandchildren last weekend. As for you adults, do the words "profoundly annoyed" mean anything to you?

Since it is directed by Tim Hill, who last brought us that memorable epic "Alvin and the Chipmunks" (2007), "Hop" expectantly breaks down on two very identifiable schizophrenic lines. The animation and digital effects are often first class, and the scenes of the Easter Bunny's command center on, you guessed it, Easter Island are admittedly inventive. Shown during the opening credits, the Easter Bunny's elves, in this case other cute bunnies and an army of tiny yellow chicks, are seen operating the machinery that will create the mounds of multi-caloric treats for the world's children to consume.

Though I don't want to unnecessarily give away the plot, although God only knows why anyone would care, it seems that the Easter Bunny is emotionally shaken when his son and future heir, E.B. (voiced by the enigmatic Russell Brand), decides he would rather seek his fame and fortune as a drummer in a rock band in Hollywood rather than take over his furry father's domain and responsibilities. Thereafter, the movie basically follows E.B.'s adventures after fleeing to Hollywood and bumping into an aimless young man by the convenient name of Fred O'Hare.

It is at this point that "Hop," in the same vein as the "Chipmunk" movies, starts leaking fuel, crashing and burning on the backs of profoundly embarrassing performances by the live actors. Will someone please tell me why Hollywood spends all of this money designing eye-catching special effects with animated characters only to show human beings who barely exceed Neanderthals in their social development?

As the clueless Fred O'Hare, James Marsden is nothing short of embarrassing. Not only is his character an entitled, egocentric twenty something still living at home with his parents, but he prides himself on his obvious lack of ambition. Worse still, Marsden is called upon to do little more than basically run screaming from whatever crosses his path, be it a talking rabbit or a family's pet dog. Though Mr. Marsden's has shown genuine comic ability in suchprevious films as "Enchanted" (2007) and "27 Dresses" (2008), not to mention genuine dramatic contributions to the X-Men trilogy, this performance cannot possibly enhance his career.

To make matters worse, every other human performance amounted to little more than wooden caricatures. In particular, Gary Cole and Elizabeth Perkins are mind numbingly awful as Marsden's parents, a couple who enable Mr. Marsden's weaknesses while taunting him at every turn to leave home. The only semi-likable member of this woeful family is their adopted daughter Alex (Tiffany Espensen), who utters one of the few clever lines by a human, "I think I was adopted because they were so disappointed in you."

But as I said, this is really one of those animated movies that is aimed strictly at children. In that regard, Hank Azaria does a splendid job as the voice of Carlos, an ornery, pudgy animated character speaking English with a thick Spanish accent who operates as the Easter Bunny's right-hand chick. Seething with resentment due to his feelings of being profoundly taken for granted, his idiotic attempts to claim the mantle of the Easter Bunny are often genuinely funny, and he literally steals the movie. (Although I must say that this was an easy theft.)

For all you remaining doubters who might feel that I'm being a bit hard on "Hop," let me simply advise you that David Hasselhoff has a small role where he plays himself. Much like Donald Trump, Mr. Hasselhoff is the ultimate celebrity, namely an irritating egomaniac who is well-known for simply being well-known. I think you probably get my drift.

Thus, while those of you with kids will probably have to go, grit your teeth and grin and bear it. At least "Hop" will serve to satiate the youngster's narcotic craving for an animated film while everyone waits for the much anticipated "Rio" to arrive in a theater near you in the next couple of weeks.

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Tags: film, Hop, movies, reviews, Robert Hammerle

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