Hop (Universal Pictures, PG)

Well, of course you can take your kids to see Hop—as long as they don’t expect big laughs, and as long as you don’t expect good acting or a vibrant, coherent story.

 

 
 
 
 
 
Fred O’Hare (James Marsden) is a bit of a loser. He’s in his early 30s, still lives with his parents, and has no job or employment prospects. When an accident brings Fred into contact with verbose bunny E.B. (Russell Brand), though, his future begins to crystallize.
 
Hop starts strong with a mythology that tracks closely with the one we’ve created for Santa Claus, but then it loses speed at record pace. The filmmakers seem to be counting on the adorableness of the animated characters to make us ignore the movie’s weak points, but that’s not quite possible with Hop‘s list of shortcomings.
 
I get the impression the film is supposed to be a fish-out-of-water story, with Fred and E.B. both away from their natural habitats. However, it doesn’t play that way. Fred spends the first two-thirds of the movie bumbling through the predicaments E.B. gets him into and barely coming out on top—which is exactly what we figure this lovable loser has been doing all his life. Fred is, by default, in his element here precisely because he’s never in his element. E.B., on the other hand, curiously fits in almost everywhere. It’s here that I think the writers really dropped the ball. There’s no talent audition, dive diner, or recording studio where people are baffled by the presence of a gabby rabbit? Really?
 
Making matters more unbelievable is the fact that E.B. is equally unimpressed by our world. He’s spent his entire life in what can only be described as an eyegasmic Easter production facility filled with nothing but chicks and bunnies. Yet cars, big cities, and loads of people don’t throw him off?
 
Part of the reason Hop doesn’t work is because there’s no sense of wonder or discovery. If Fred and E.B. had to learn about each other’s worlds, or if they explained why the garrulous hare doesn’t freak more folks out, the writers could’ve provided some much-needed spark. Whenever you have a movie in which the real world mingles with fantasy, the audience has to feel the flicker of excitement inspired by the wild unknown. Without that flicker, it’s hard to get to the heart of the film. And if a comedy lacks heart, the gags tend to fall flat.
 
The live-action performances are also missing the kind of spark necessary for this type of movie. Marsden and the rest of the actors engage in so much wide-eyed camera mugging that they appear totally out of place. It’s as though they all performed separately and were edited together, with no idea where any scene (or the film as a whole) was going.
 
I know what you’re thinking: “That analysis sounds too serious for a semi-animated movie. Can I take my kids to it, or not?” Well, of course you can take your kids to see Hop—as long as they don’t expect big laughs, and as long as you don’t expect good acting or a vibrant, coherent story. Hey, at least the rabbit’s cute.│Adrienne Jones

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