Review: Tim Hill's CG Hybrid Comedy 'Hop' is Uninteresting at Best
by Jeremy Kirk
March 31, 2011
There are a lot of things that Illumination Entertainment's new talking animal comedy Hop doesn't prove. It doesn't prove the existence of the Easter Bunny. Sorry kids, that one is left to your parents to break to you, and I'm sorry if that counts as a spoiler. Hop doesn't prove why someone who looks like James Marsden can't get any kind of job based on looks alone. It doesn't prove that putting Russell Brand's voice in any CG creation makes it funny. These just make up the tip of a deeply buried iceberg of things Hop doesn't prove. However, there is actually one thing it does prove.
It proves that not every Brendan Fraser film has to actually feature Brendan Fraser anywhere in the cast. An apology might be in order to Mr. Fraser, but you can't say the guy doesn't deserve it for Furry Vengeance alone.
But instead of going off on a tangent about a movie that's even worse than Hop, we'll just stick with Hop, an unfunny, uninteresting, unexciting comedy that seems more interested in showing you cute CG animals that talk than actually putting together a coherent and/or humorous screenplay. I guess the best word that describes Hop is "un." More a prefix, but you get the idea. It may not be the absolute worst movie to come along in this particular genre - we've still got our eye poised at you, Fraser - but that doesn't make Hop a film I wish I couldn't "unwatch".
That talking animal with Russell Brand's voice I was referring to is E.B., the heir to the Easter Bunny role. Living on Easter Island - get it? - with his father, voiced by Hugh Laurie, E.B. only dreams of being a professional drummer. He doesn't want to carry on the family tradition, and, in an attempt to get away from his future of delivering candy to billions of children, takes a magical porthole from the island to Hollywood.
It is here E.B. runs into, or is run into by, Fred O'Hare - get it? These are jokes, people - played by James Marsden. Like E.B., Fred seems uninterested in the monotony of conformity. Fred doesn't know what he wants to do with his life, but whatever is out there for him he hasn't found it yet. The serendipity of their meeting sets in motion the path that puts E.B. and Fred right in the places they need to be. Hilarity ensues.
Or hilarity would ensue if the people behind Hop were interested in making a funny kid's comedy. The three screenwriters and director Tim Hill (Alvin and the Chipmunks) seem about as interested in making Hop an entertaining movie as their protagonist seems in finding a career path. There are instances where you feel they're expecting laughs. There are actual pauses where the chuckles or uproarious bellows of laughter probably should be coming from the audience. Unfortunately those moments come after things just happening. Usually for no reason and with little or no hook to actually pull the laughter from said audience.
Simply showing us E.B. acting cute or having cameo appearances pop up don't count. When Russell Brand actually shows up as a production assistant, maybe have him say something funny or even acknowledge the fact that this talking rabbit he's confronting and he have the same voice. Instead, we are simply shown Brand in the flesh, and that's supposed to draw a general chatter from the viewer. It's a whole lot of fun hearing parents tell their kids, "Hey, that's the guy who does E.B.'s voice." You can put in sarcasm and a basic look of bewilderment on the kids' faces here.
But even when Hop goes for the laughs it's so broad you can't even see the edges. E.B. poops jelly beans (see photo above), something that's going to do wonders for the jelly bean industry. He has two speeds. Annoying and really annoying. Of course, he's never apologetic even when he's costing his newly found "friend" Fred a job interview or causing damage to the mansion that Fred is house-sitting. But it's okay, though, right? It's all in good fun. Don't let stupid things like reality come into play when you're watching a movie made for kids.
That's the problem when it comes to movies of this ilk. They shouldn't have to be just for kids. There should be a balance so that when jokes arise, the adults can laugh just as much as the kids, and hardly anyone will be annoyed by the talking tornado of a bunny. Pixar has been doing this kind of humor for years in their sleep. It shouldn't be that difficult, but to look at a movie like Hop, you'd think it was near impossible. You can't even connect with Fred, a 30-something who until recently has been living with his parents without a care in the world. He's the protagonist here. You should be on his side, but all you can think about is how right his father, played by Gary Cole, is in being disappointed in his son.
And that's where the real danger of Hop comes into play. Without getting into how it all plays out, it's safe to say Hop is a film that wants to be about following your dreams. Sadly its message is clouded by the "magic" of this particular movie. It tells us you don't really have to make an effort, because something is bound to land right in your lap. You just have to be shiftless and wait for it. It really makes me wonder what Hop is going to do for the unemployment rate.
Before you lambaste me with comments about how it's a kid's movie and shouldn't be taken seriously, I propose to you that the seriousness only comes after sitting through a movie that isn't entertaining, either. A few minute instances aside, Hop is downright devoid of laughs, and that's not even taking into account whether they're genuine or mock. The implications of its subtext - a phrase that really shouldn't be included in a review for a movie about a jelly bean pooping rabbit - are secondary. Unfunny. Uncool. Unpleasant. You can spell Hop without "u" and "n", but they sure can't make the movie without them.
Jeremy's Rating: 3 out of 10