Happy Easter, kids!
Now here’s why it can be even happier: this movie. I mean, it’s stupid, certainly. In fact, it’s completely irrational and is bordering on the insane, but it is also just crazy amounts of good old-fashioned fun, which makes up for a hell of a lot, methinks.
Our premise: The Easter Bunny (Hugh Laurie) is all set to retire and hand over the reigns of his egg-delivering empire to reluctant son, EB (Russell Brand). EB just wants to be a drummer, and so runs away from home — which is on Easter Island, of course — and heads off for the bright lights of Hollywood. There, homeless and alone (and having been refused a place to stay by a Hugh Hefner voice cameo at the Playboy Mansion, despite being an actual bunny), he is run over by slacker Fred O’Hare (James Marsden — and, yes, seriously, his character’s last name is O’Hare) and thereafter proceeds to make something of a mess of his attacker/savior’s life.
And then they both thwart a coup plotted by Carlos (Hank Azaria), an Easter chick with delusions of bunnyhood, and end up saving the chocolatiest holiday of them all in a very The Santa Clause-ian manner. (During which: nary a reference to Jesus, by the way. So it is very The Santa Clause-ian.)
The beginning of the movie tells us its end, with Fred cheerfully announcing that he is now the Easter Bunny (and isn’t it lovely, in these uncertain economic times, that children can still be taught to aspire to jobs in the lucrative mythical creature market?), and throughout his travails with both his disapproving family — Dad, Gary Cole; Mom, Elizabeth Perkins; and, cast against type, over-achieving sister Kaley Cuoco — the rambunctious EB and the power mad Carlos, we therefore never experience a moment of doubt as to how things will turn out for him.
I am totally cool with this. Yes, even with the inevitable training montage, and a predictably ill-fated job interview featuring a peculiar cameo by Chelsea Handler. Because the journey he takes to get there is simply hilarious, made all the more so by a script full of clever one-liners, in-jokes and puns (though I could have done without David Hasselhoff’s Knight Rider reference — oh, yeah, David Hasselhoff is in this movie), which are impeccably delivered by Laurie, Azaria, Marsden and — most especially — Brand.
Russell Brand (who also confusingly makes an in-person appearance) plays bad boy bunny with a heart of gold to perfection; his scenes where his is soulfully, selflessly guilt-tripping Fred into helping him are laugh-out-loud uproarious, and he is just very, very funny throughout. Azaria is also terrific, playing a Mexican-sounding bird in a manner very reminiscent of his movie-stealing performance in 1996’s The Birdcage, and hearing House’s Hugh Laurie with his uppercrust Britishness intact is always good time, evoking as it does (for me, at least) many happy hours spent with Jeeves and Wooster and several generations of Blackadders.
Marsden, meanwhile, is more than adequate as the handsome but directionless Fred; he succeeds at playing against thin air much more admirably than, say, Jason Lee in Alvin and the Chipmunks, and for the many scenes in which he is the only human on screen, he does an admirable job of making us believe he is surrounded by talking, anthropomorphized animals, etc. (No doubt his experience in Enchanted and, hell, even the X-Men movies helped.) The seamless marriage of live action and computer animation must also be commended for making the suspension of disbelief in such a palpably silly story just that much easier.
With an eclectic soundtrack starring the music of artists from Poison to The Blind Boys of Alabama to Pink, Hop offers up an immersive, entertaining and thoroughly enchanting experience, and one that will be just as fun on a second, third and fourth rewatch, and even if seen out of the holiday season around which it is centered.
Oh, except for the jellybeans part. ‘Cause, really? My favorite candy as rabbit droppings?
I may never look at the Jelly Belly bar the same way again.