Review of Hop

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An animated family comedy film that follows the Easter Bunny's teenage son as he heads to Hollywood, determined to become a drummer in a rock 'n' roll band. Featuring the voices of stars like Russell Brand, Chelsea Handler, David Hasselhoff, James Marsden, Kaley Cuoco & Hugh Laurie. 

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Movie Review: "Hop"
Rating: PG
Length: 95 minutes
Release Date: April 1, 2011
Directed by: Tim Hill
Genre: Animation, Comedy and Family

"Hop" is the untold tale of the Easter Bunny's son; it is the classic story of a child leaving home to find his own destiny. Partially animated and partially live action, the movie is aesthetically pleasing and entertaining for both children and adults.

The story opens on E.B. (voiced by Russell Brand), the child of the Easter Bunny. E.B. is uninterested in following in his father's footsteps, so he leaves Easter Island and heads to the big city to make it as a drummer in a band. While he is there, he falls in with Fred (James Marsden), the wayward son of a human family. The two form an unlikely partnership and end up together in a mansion that Fred is watching for his sister's boss.

As E.B. navigates his way through the Los Angeles music scene, he experiences the ups and downs of the industry. Eventually, he finds the ultimate opportunity: an audition for a David Hasselhoff production. Despite his protestations, Fred is dragged into the schemes and, in the process, discovers his own dream: to become the next Easter Bunny. Unfortunately, he has competition from Carlos (voiced by Hank Azaria), and chaos ensues before the predictably neat ending.

Despite all the fun and chaos, the real star of the movie is the blend of animation and live action. The animation and programming team behind "Hop" managed to pull off the unlikely juxtaposition without making the audience feel uncomfortable. The animated characters and live characters work together perfectly, leading viewers to believe they are watching humans speak to cartoons. It is the mark of a top-notch technical group that the animation fades into the background, making it unnoticeable in comparison to the story itself.

"Hop" aims to break the mold for Easter-themed movies. Viewers should not expect to see stereotypical images of sweet chicks and chocolate bunnies; on the contrary, writers Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio and Brian Lynch have creatively intermingled the real and the fantastical, creating a surprisingly seamless script. They take elements from popular stories, molding them together into a fun, rollicking hour and a half. Despite the film's unlikely premise, the writers created a smart, snappy movie that moves quickly. The humor never feels tired or overwrought, and the actors commit to the material with an admirable dedication and believability. The wit behind "Hop" gives it an unexpected edge that is unheard of in other Easter movies.

The script explores timeless issues, giving it the feeling of a modern fairy tale. The central storyline, where a disenchanted son wants to escape the family business, is handled with sweetness and understanding rather than judgment. Less obvious themes, such as cultural differences and ideas of tradition, appear throughout the story as subtle lessons.

Both the voice actors and live actors give excellent performances, working well within the imaginative framework of the film. Marsden is appropriately befuddled as Fred, who can't quite believe that he is speaking with the actual son of the Easter Bunny. His confusion carries through the movie, giving it a genuine feeling. The emotion acknowledges the animation without drawing too much attention to it. Azaria shows off his considerable skills giving a voice to Carlos, the disgruntled chick who wants to take over the Easter Bunny's job, and will stop at nothing to achieve his goal. Even without the advantage of his visual presence to show his expressions and physical comedy, Brand gives life to the rebellious E.B., making it easy to believe that the animated rabbit will indeed become a world-class drummer.

"Hop" is geared to children, but it contains plenty of fun for parents and other adults. The movie is full of references that will entertain the over-12 crowd without offending the little ones. With a creative mix of humor and constant nods to popular culture, director Tim Hill accomplished the difficult task of creating a movie that is truly enjoyable for the whole family. The childlike humor does not patronize young viewers or irritate adults.

Although "Hop" isn't quite at the level of other animated films-it never gains the momentum necessary to draw viewers into the cartoon world-it has created a place for itself in the hybrid category. Viewers may notice that the movie employs tactics and story elements usually used by other holiday movies, but the strategy serves to create a comfortable feeling of familiarity.

"Hop" guarantees an entertaining experience for every member of the family.