E-Bunnies: Origins – Hop review

Hop – Starring James Marsden, Russell Brand and Kaley Cuoco. Directed by Tim Hill. Rated G. By Simon Miraudo.

Hop is Hollywood’s attempt to further distance religious holidays from their actual meaning, which I’m not necessarily against, so long as some imagination and effort is put into it. Now that Christmas and Easter have been successfully commercialised, why don’t the movie studios get to work on a Rosh Hashanah flick? Maybe a Diwali-inspired animated family film, with Shia LaBeouf voicing Lord Rama and Larry the Cable Guy playing Rama’s 10-headed enemy Ravana (spoiler alert: this odd couple make up and become BFFs). Or perhaps we reteam the creative talent behind Year One for Lughnasadh!; a reimagining of the pagan harvest festival in which townsfolk compete in contests of strength and skill.

Until then, we’ve got Tim Hill’s Hop, which is a pleasant “reimagining” of the Easter Bunny’s origins. Unfortunately, it’s not quite cute enough, funny enough, or interesting enough to warrant the complete dismissal of an entire people’s religious beliefs. The film is primarily concerned with turning Easter into Christmas; wiping clean the religious connotations and establishing it as a time of year when family’s begrudgingly spend time with one another, and children beg (nay, demand) copious amounts of chocolate. The film begins as a cotton-candy-cartoon. We are introduced to the Easter Bunny (Hugh Laurie) and his rebellious son/heir-to-the-throne E.B. (Russell Brand), who live in some sort of candy factory in the sky. E.B. would rather be a drummer than holiday icon, so he treats himself to a Rumspringa; fleeing the animated factory and heading to the live-action world of Los Angeles to become a famous drummer. It’s there he meets Fred O’Hare (James Marsden), a human similarly lacking direction in his life. After recovering from the shock of meeting a talking rabbit, the two of them bond over their collective daddy issues, and Fred pledges to make E.B.’s dreams come true.

Let’s pause and take stock of the universe created here so far. The Easter Bunny exists, and has existed since the beginning of time. Fine. He only delivers eggs to primarily Christian countries (they’re yet to crack China), which implies they are definitely on a “mission from God”. E.B. doesn’t seem to have a mother, so are we to assume he was an immaculate conception? Have all the Easter Bunnies been immaculate conceptions?! E.B. escapes the factory to avoid his fate, as laid out for him by his father and decided for him before his birth. Is this meant to evoke Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ, in which Jesus, terrified of dying on the cross to fulfil his holy duties, is offered the opportunity to see a world in which he may live as he pleases, and witnesses the downfall of Jerusalem through violent rebellion (Hop even features a B-plot in which the workers of the candy factory – baby chicks – take advantage of E.B.’s absence to stage a coup d’état)? ….. Nah.

I wish I could say that Hop is a complex remake of Scorsese’s own controversial Easter movie, but it’s more likely that any similarity between characters living, dead or reborn are completely coincidental. It’s far more concerned with scenes in which the (admittedly, adorable) E.B. poops candy, rather than establishing him as some kind of ‘Rabbit Christ’. Marsden is game for anything, which helps, and Brand is sweetly funny (there are a couple of hilarious Brandian lines thrown in for good measure). But the universe of the Easter Bunnies – Christian connotations aside – feels sort of uninspired, and the triteness of themes such as “following your dreams”, “appreciating family” and “respecting your father” are only multiplied when clumsily overlapped as they are here. Also, a cameo from David Hasselhoff may have been misjudged – it seemed to only elicit screams and tears from the children in my audience.

2.5/5

Check out Simon’s other reviews here.

Hop is now showing in cinemas across Australia.

One Response to “E-Bunnies: Origins – Hop review”

  1. PMSL, i reckon you’ve been extra generous with those stars! Excrutiating! Kids liked it though, and there were one or two great one liners that made me guffaw. Still, the DVD won’t be allowed in my house!

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