"Hop" gets the jump on the Easter holiday with an easy-going, oft-times laugh-out loud funny twist on the Easter Bunny tale.
The movie combines live action and animation seamlessly. Compare "Hop" to "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" (1988), one of the first contemporary cinema era merging Computer Generated Imagery with live action, and you will see how far Hollywood's technical wizards have advanced in two decades.
"Hop" stars James Marsden as Fred O'Hare, whose parents (Gary Cole, Elizabeth Perkins) and sisters (Kaley Cuoco, Tiffany Espensen) want him to get a job and a place of his own.
E.B. (as in Easter Bunny), the animated rabbit (voiced by Russell Brand), has a job for life, but not one that he particularly, ahem, cottons to.
On Easter Island, his father (voiced by Hugh Laurie) grooms him to be the next Easter Bunny. E.B. would rather bang on his drums all day. Meanwhile, Carlos (voice by Hank Azaria) wants to supplant him as the Easter Chicken.
E.B. high tails it to Hollywood. There he, literally runs into Fred, or, rather, Fred literally runs into him with his used Volvo station wagon. E.B. knows a good thing when he sees Fred house-sitting a Beverly Hills mansion. However, the Pink Berets, a sort of female bunny palace guard, are on E.B.'s tail to bring him back to Easter Island.
"Hop" is a comedy that has some very humorous scenes. One sequence is when Fred interviews (with Chelsea Handler, no less) for a job at a video game firm. Another involves "Hoff Knows Talent," where E.B. auditions for a television talent show hosted by David Hasselhoff. Yet a third is when Fred and E.B. upstage a school stage show.
Director Tim Hill ("Alvin and the Chipmunks," 2007; "SpongeBob SquarePants Movie," 2004) and screenwriters Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio and Brian Lynch, from a story by Paul and Daurio (who co-wrote "Despicable Me," 2010), strike a balance between believable family topics (father and son issues, for example) and the make-believe world of a talking rabbit.
Marsden ("Enchanted," 2007) is a great choice to play Fred. Marsden conveys the silly predicaments in which he finds himself with the right combination of perplexity and innocence. Marsden doesn't overdo the mugging, or reacting, but projects a centered dignity.
Brand ("Get Him to The Greek," 2010) is a brilliant choice to voice E.B. His voice sounds like that wise-guy rabbit, Bugs Bunny, anyway.
"Hop," if not particularly hip, should provide a sweet treat for parents and children to share.
"Hop," MPAA Rated PG (Parental Guidance Suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children) for some mild rude humor; Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family; Run time: 1 hr., 35 min. Distributed by Universal Studios.
Credit Readers Anonymous: Stay for the very end of the "Hop" closing credits to see a scene with Fred (Marsden) and E. B. (Brand), which offsets an earlier, potentially offensive scene that takes place in China.
Box Office, April 1: "Hop" fooled the Hollywood pundits, opening at No. 1 with $38.1 million, the year's biggest opening to date, after "Rango."
The well-reviewed "Source Code" opened at a distant No. 2, with $15 million, and "Insidious" opened at No. 3, with $13.4 million.
4. "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules," $10.2 million, $38.3 million, two weeks; 5. "Limitless," $9.4 million, $55.6 million, three weeks; 6. "The Lincoln Lawyer," $7 million, $39.6 million, three weeks; 7. "Sucker Punch," $6 million, $29.8 million, two weeks; 8. "Rango," $4.5 million, $113.7 million, five weeks; 9. "Paul," $4.3 million, $31.9 million, three weeks; 10. "Battle: Los Angeles," $3.5 million, $78.4 million, four weeks
Unreel, April 8:
"Arthur," PG-13: Russell Brand reprises the Dudley Moore role in this remake of the comedy. Jason Winer directs Helen Mirren (in the former John Gielgud role), Jennifer Garner and Greta Gerwig.
"Your Highness," R: Danny McBride stars as a lazy prince who must go on a quest to save his father's kingdom. The fantasy-comedy directed by David Gordon Green ("Pineapple Express") also stars Natalie Portman, James Franco and Zooey Deschanel.
"Hanna," PG-13: A 16-year-old girl (Saoirse Ronan) raised by her father (Eric Bana) is sent on a mission in Europe, but is tracked by an intelligence agent (Cate Blanchett). Joe Wright ("Atonement," "Pride & Prejudice") directs the thriller.
"Born to Be Wild," G: A nature documentary, available in 3D, about those who rescue and raise orangutans and elephants
"Soul Surfer," PG: The movie is based on a true story about Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSophia Robb) who returns to surfing after losing her arm in a shark attack. The drama also stars Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt and Carrie Underwood.
Two Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes