Illumination's HOP Review – LightTrain

Good morning Vietnam! Welcome aboard and happy Easter, I’m your conductor G.H speaking. It’s usually a good bet for a studio to produce a holiday film, since television networks will air it every year with luck and you could perhaps earn royalties each time. Halloween and most notably Christmas have far to much competition to deal with, though that leaves a possible jackpot out in the open for others to snatch up. Enter the 2011 live action film Hop directed by Tim Hill of Alvin and the Chipmunks, which is based off the Easter season. Let’s get this show on the road!

The plot is about the son of the Easter Bunny, E.B (voice acted by Russel Brand), the heir to his father’s title. Despite the prestigious reputation, E.B would rather follow his passion of performing the drums and flees to Los Angeles to achieve stardom. There he is taken in by the unemployed human slacker Frederick O’Hare after being inadvertently hit with his car. Elsewhere on Easter Island, E.B’s father has sent his royal guards the Pink Berets to recover E.B while the Mexican second-in-command of Mr. Bunny, the chick Carlos, schemes with the fellow chicken assistants to overthrow the bunnies and nullify the holiday to their image.

Right off the bat, I have a few things to say about the film’s heavy-handed message. Now, the theme isn’t bad on paper, learning to accept that people may not fit into the molds you want them in. E.B wants to become a drummer for a band rather than take up the duties of being the Easter bunny, which is somewhat of a hole. The Bunny himself really just monitors the production of those sweet treats and only becomes dedicated to the job once a year, delivering eggs that is. So couldn’t that mean E.B can do the Easter bunny’s minor responsibilities and still play music on his free time? But wait, there’s another issue involving the right-hand man Carlos as well. Now, disagree if you wish, but wouldn’t it click in with the story’s subject matter if he became the new Easter bunny despite being born a chick, since E.B participates in the music industry despite being born his father’s successor? It would make theme and logical sense because chickens lay eggs not bunnies, right? I’m beginning to get off track, let’s continue.

The film, I would say, does a solid job clearly spelling out each one’s motivations even if they’re still a bit… much. For example, 2/3s of the way into the flick Frederick suddenly decides that he can replace E.B as the new honcho. Yes, they actually went with this, though that at least provides me more reason for my Easter chick hypothesis. It really feels like Illumination took their Easter film and have it a Christmas zest with a sleigh and everything. That reminds me, Hop when you briefly analyze it honestly has nothing to do with the holiday; how could you have the first theatrical Easter movie without anyone even celebrating it or exploding Peeps™ in their microwave?

The way the film plays out is also rather flabbergasting; unlike the preferred structure template of a straight plotline which shoots up or down with the main character’s journey, Hop has numerous branches which grow out and end before they get anywhere. Take Fred’s job interview at a video game development, which has so much potential in and of itself. Though by the time the scenes done, nothing interesting happens to keep kids enthralled. When the emotional story arc wraps up at the end, the Easter bunny bestows E.B and Fred co-Easter bunnies together. Wait a minute, you would allow a human you’ve never met before with questionable skills have the title than your perennial proxy all because he’s a chick? This is more ridiculous than Werewolves on Wheels!

With a cluttered plot, flat characters and a undercooked plan for the moral, Hop reminds me all too much of those chocolate rabbits: Their occasionally impressive CGI and promising setup may feel appetizing to the senses, but the overload of cheap, factory-produced richness is enough to make older audiences sick to their stomach.

RATING: 3.5/10 “Eh”




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