Article first published as Movie Review: Hop (2011) on Blogcritics.
Hop is cute. It's the most expected, yet most accurate word to describe it. It's not the best animation in the world, not as intricate or interesting as Rango, although the detailed hair on the fuzzy bunny and feathery down on the chicks is really good. It's visibly much better to look at than the animation in soon-to-be-released Rio, which was previewed. But neither the kid nor I seemed interested in seeing that one, while an adult seated behind us was inexplicably laughing at every lame joke in the two-minute trailer. Oh well. But back to Hop.
The movie has some wonderful actors, in body and in voice. James Marsden, who can pretty much do anything — musical (Hairspray, Enchanted), rom-com (27 Dresses), action (X Men 1,2,3), thriller (The Box), farce (Death at a Funeral) — was appealing as the aimless son of an ambitious father who once caught a glimpse of the Easter Bunny when he was young and for whom nothing has seemed as exciting since. I want to say that the guy should work more, but his resume shows his versatility and steady stream of work, so maybe not being the biggest star out there is suiting him just fine.
Hank Azaria, who does the voice of fuzzy chick and arch villain Carlos and his dance-happy sidekick Phil has a blast and gets many of the best one-liners. Gary Cole, who is a master of the slow burn and switcheroo plays Marsden's disappointed dad. In the parallel animated roles Hugh Laurie is the Easter Bunny who can't understand why his son would rather play drums than inherit the color- and candy-saturated family business, and Russell Brand is his son, E.B.
Brand is beyond hot right now, with Arthur hot on the tail of Hop, opening next week. Hop's humor is frequently sarcastic. In fact, many of the jokes may sail over kiddies heads, but they'll get the attitude, which is not too far from another famous bunny, Bugs. Brand is very good as the voice of E.B. His obnoxious yet sometimes sweet-at-times persona comes through.
Hop is basically an Odd Couple coming-of-age comedy. It's predictable, but kids like predictable. It's also got the Hoff (David Hasselhoff), which is perplexing, but somehow O.K. When I asked my daughter after we left the theater if she liked the movie, she echoed the Hoff in his scene after hearing E.B. play on the drums, "I didn't like it, I loved it." Not a surprise, as she really liked Alvin and the Chipmunks, by the same director, Tim Hill. I found that movie annoying and this one amusing. I think it's due to better casting. And also that the bunnies don't speak in electronic falsetto.