Movie review: Easter-themed "Hop" lays an egg

Dana Barbuto
In "Hop", the new live action/CG-animated comedy from the producers of Despicable Me and the director of Alvin and the Chipmunks, Carlos (voiced by HANK AZARIA) and the Easter Bunny (voiced by HUGH LAURIE) rally the troops at the candy factory.

All you need to know about "Hop" is the Easter Bunny poops jelly beans. Later, someone eats them. If that's your idea of a fun family flick, then your Easter basket runneth over. For the rest of us, "Hop" is nothing to get egg-cited about.

Like "Alvin and the Chipmunks" before it, "Hop" is a mix of live action and animation. And so it comes as no surprise that director Tim Hill helmed both. In fact, "Hop" borrows heavily from that movie; just replace Jason Lee with James Marsden in the slacker role, and swap the chipmunks for bunnies and chicks. Boom! There it is.

What engaged me during the movie was the knowledge that this is from the same production company that gave us last summer's "Despicable Me" - so something terrific was just around the corner, right?

Wrong.

The whole flick is just a blatant money-grab to pick the pockets of parents. It's like a Christmas-y Easter movie, and I'm surprised it's taken Hollywood this long to cash in. While fun, hearing the talented voices of Russell Brand ("Despicable Me"), Hugh Laurie ("Monsters Vs. Aliens") and Hank Azaria ("The Simpsons"), doesn't make up for a story that lays an egg. All three actors' voices are impressive, but they can't make up for obvious shortcomings laid at the paws of a trio of screenwriters - Brian Lynch and "Despicable Me" scribes Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio. If the story they concocted were only half as good as the visuals on Easter Island, where it's Easter 24-7, then they'd be on to something. The scenes in the candy factory are swathed in a stunningly vibrant mix of colors that, dare I say, rival "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." You practically get a sugar rush just watching. Then the live action scenes are such a letdown.

The story, in an egg, er, nutshell: E.B. (Brand) is the hare, er, heir apparent to the Easter Bunny (Laurie). Naturally, E.B. doesn't want to follow in dad's rabbit feet. He'd rather be a drummer in a rock band. Then, on the day he's to be crowned, E.B. takes off, lands in Hollywood, and is hit by a car driven by Fred O'Hare (Marsden), a dolt who can't even get a job in a mailroom. In fact, his mother and father (Gary Cole, Elizabeth Perkins) and sister (Kaley Cuoco) just staged a slacker intervention.

Eventually, E.B. and Fred, now house-sitting in a Beverly Hills mansion, team up to get one a drumming gig and the other a job. Pandemonium breaks out - the tub overflows with bubbles, a mad dog chase ensues, as well as other hijinks you've seen before.

Meanwhile, off on Easter Island, dad has unleashed the Pink Berets to search for E.B. However, that doesn't stop Carlos (Azaria), a villainous chick who looks like a life-sized Peep, from staging an Easter coup two weeks before the holiday. He's got designs on becoming the Easter chick. That builds up to the showdown ending. Will Easter be saved? Who cares.

Kids will like the music - Taio Cruz' "Dynamite," and Bow Wow Wow's "I Want Candy." Funnywoman Chelsea Handler shows up to interview Fred for a job. And yes, David Hasselhoff is in the mix, too.

HOP( PG for some mild rude humor) Cast includes James Marsden, Russell Brand, Kaley Cuoco, Hank Azaria, Gary Cole, Elizabeth Perkins. 1.5 stars out of 4.