In case you missed something, the Easter Bunny is really Santa Clause and Easter is Christmas in April. At least, that’s the story that is clumsily put forth in “Hop,” the latest live-action and computer-animated feature from director Tim Hill who hit it big with “Alvin and the Chipmunks.” But this time out, the animated critter that is at the center of things makes for one odd chick.
In “Hop,” Fred O’Hare (James Marsden, playing younger) is a late twenty or early thirty something slacker who has holed up in his parents’ house for the last year following a devastating job loss. His sisters are over-achievers and his father Henry (Gary Cole) has had it with Fred’s apathy. Meanwhile, over on Rapa Nui, Easter Island, another father/son conflict is brewing. E.B. (voiced by Russell Brand) has no interest in taking over the top spot as the iconic Easter Bunny (voiced by “House’s” Hugh Laurie). E.B. would much rather jam out on his drum set and pursue life as a long-eared rock star. After an argument with his Dad, E.B. escapes to the one place where entertainment dreams can become a reality—Hollywood. And while there, he bumps, literally, into Fred and the two form a sort of friendship as only a man and a talking rabbit can.
“Hop” is exploitive and spotty at its best, and downright weird and off-putting for the most part. Straining credulity from the beginning, the story gets worse and worse turning to David Hasselhoff for cheesy jokes to save it from boredom. And the Hoff is very good geeking on himself, which led me to question whether the movie should have been about him and his relationship with the Easter Bunny rather than the downright dumb story that has been forced in “Hop.” As my mind wandered in the theater, I imagined Hasselhoff teaming up with Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze to make a funky sort of Easter version of “Being John Malkovich.”
“Hop” offers little in terms of redeeming value, not even a real cautionary moral for its younger fans. And even though the Easter Bunny is a secular character built around a Christian holiday, it would have helped had the movie made any mention of the origin of Easter. But “Hop” is content with lazily turning the Easter Bunny into Santa Clause, and I’m not kidding about this. In this movie, the Easter Bunny has an Easter sleigh! I immediately thought, “this has to be some kind of joke.” And it turned out I was right, “Hop” is one big joke pulled on anyone paying to see it.