Sunday, April 3, 2011
Current Reels: Hop proves to be refreshingly bizarre
Image courtesy of Universal Pictures.
It's a dicey situation when you give someone the premise of how a man becomes an Easter Bunny. But yet, somehow, Hop, created by the same minds that brought you the delightful Despicable Me, pull off a charming film.
Granted, this isn't the best film I've ever seen, but the critics at large have come down on it a bit too harshly. The problem is, it doesn't have mass appeal. You have to be either a very small child, or a very geeky adult to really enjoy it, or (in the case of adults) a bunch of pop culture references and in-joke winks will go right over your head. And of course, if you're a kid it doesn't matter because you are treated to the stunning animation of some of the fuzziest, fluffiest bunnies you've ever seen if your relatively short life thus far.
Here's the litmus test: would you find someone getting a cherry cough drop on top of their sundae rather than a cherry because the diner ran out of them and they thought that was just as good to be even remotely amusing? No? Then this probably isn't the film for you.
James Marsden was the perfect casting choice because I've always thought he looks a little like a bunny anyway, with those prominent front teeth and sweet cheeks. This kind of film would have succeeded in being a total disaster if it hadn't been for one crucial thing - it was fully aware of it's own bizarreness. There's nothing I hate worse than a film that presents a wacky situation and then switches gears halfway through to suddenly become a serious, soul-searching drama. (I'm looking at you, Due Date.)
I have to admire a film that takes chances and gives an unpredictable plot. One of the funniest parts of the film is how when E.B., the son of the Easter Bunny, escapes through a rabbit burrow to Hollywood to become a drummer rather than follow in his dear old Dad's legacy. Once he arrives, no one there seems particularly perturbed about witnessing a talking rabbit in a little flannel shirt. And from what my co-worker has told me from visiting Hollywood, that's just about the state of things there.
Things that did bug me about the film included putting the only Spanish-speaking character (a rather overworked disgruntled chick) as the villain. Okay, can someone explain to me why all the rest of the characters in the magical bunny world, headquartered, where else? on Easter Island, are British and this one villain happens to be Spanish? Just unnerved me.
Also, was it REALLY necessary to have E.B. poop jellybeans? Not very creative or funny. I think if I were a kid, that would put me off jellybeans for a lifetime. And someone needs to put the proverbial kaibosh on comparing Easter to Christmas, like they do so at the very end of the film. If you count "Christmas in July" we already have six months of Christmas advertising, so if they could keep it the hell out of my Easter basket, I'd really appreciate it.
Lastly, I adored the Pink Berets, and especially the third, smaller one that was slightly hapless and had to use an inhaler at times. But would it have really killed the animators to have given them a couple lines?
But overall, it made me laugh more than a couple times and I came out of the theatre not feeling jipped out of my $11. That might not be enough for some people but it's enough for me. I'm just thankful that A. they didn't make it 3D, because the plot really wasn't worthy of it, and B. James Marsden was totally, 100 percent into the role. His zeal at taking on this wacky scenario is really admirable. I could just imagine him reading the script and saying "Cool! Let's do it up!" Because that's the secret really for making a film that pushes the envelope a bit - to just "hop" into it with all four feet. And that kind of enthusiasm has got to be worth something.
Note from Toby: This movie made me hungry.