Thursday, April 14, 2011

HOP movie review

I’ve been anticipating a movie about the Easter Bunny for over a year now. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m some Easter enthusiast. I don’t go on daily egg hunts while stroking my strap on ears and fluffy cottontail. Okay, well, fine, I do all that, but I wasn’t looking forward to the movie because of the whole bunny thing. I’ve been anticipating this movie as much as probably every candy loving kid in the world because of the creative team. Brian Lynch co-wrote the screenplay. I love Brian Lynch. For those who don’t know of him, he wrote perhaps my favorite comic book of all time, Angel: After the Fall. In his various Spike spin-off series, he took the character to places that even creator Joss Whedon hadn’t. His creator owned stuff, such as the brilliant comic Everybody’s Dead and the always entertaining Angry Naked Pat, is every bit as good as his work on Angel. In short, his writing kicks ass in a way that is hilarious, emotional, and wholly original. Pair that with Russell Brand (one of the most brilliant comedians and actors of our time) starring as the friggin’ Easter Bunny (well, kind of; we’ll get to that), and you’ve got something worth getting excited about.

So. After a long, long wait, I found myself sitting in a theater next to my girlfriend, surrounded by what was either a clan of midgets on a popcorn high or a gaggle of excited children. Besides a few tired looking parents, we were the only people in the room who didn't actually believe in the Easter Bunny. Normally, we try to avoid situations that promise to include such a large amount of children, but for “Hop,” I’d stick it out. And man. Man man man. It was very worth it. It was even worth dealing with that one kid with the light up sneakers—which is saying a lot. It’s unfortunate that there weren’t more adults, because while the simple storyline and colorful eye candy (ATTACK OF THE TERRIBLE PUN!) is enough to keep the kiddies staring at the screen all oogly eyed, the script is dripping with that trademark Lynch snark that made me love his work in the first place. Russell Brand, who is known for his fluid, improvised humor, seems to have found his match in Lynch. I can’t count the times that I laughed out loud; I was making the children look like well-behaved little gentlethings.

The plot is simple. EB, son of the Easter Bunny, wants to play drums; his dad has other, decidedly more festive plans for him. EB is destined to be Easter Bunny. It’s just the way things are. However, in an appropriately punk rock move, EB flees Easter Island and heads toward his new home: the Playboy Mansion.

Despite EB's reasoning (he describes himself as a “sexy bunny,” and he heard that the Mansion houses that sort), he isn’t given admittance. He ends up with Fred (James Marsden), who is going through a struggle of his own. Fred is a bit of a slacker and his parents are more than a bit disappointed. The film then tells the wonky story of how Fred learns about responsibility through EB and ends up becoming the first human Easter Bunny. While I was a little dubious about the premise, the execution is nothing short of brilliant, as the script, for the most part, avoids cliché like an apt Frogger player avoids incoming cars. The only issue I took with the film was the interaction between the Fred and his father; their relationship seemed forced, both in the conflict and the resolution. Toward the end, when Fred’s father discovers that his son has become the Easter Bunny, his reaction is instant pride, instead of the sort of holy-shit-my-son-is-actually-the-Easter-Bunny. It’s a small moment toward the end of the film, and it serves to only slightly cheesify what is essentially the perfect family film.

It’s been Number One for two weeks in a row, so if you haven’t seen it yet… go and give HOP a third week on top. It’s a rare flick that little kids, teenagers, and even skeptical parents can enjoy.

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