Normally actors just have to read a script to get a role …

Theatrical Release Date: 04/01/2011
Director: Tim Hill
Cast: James Marsden, Russell Brand (voice), Kaley Cuoco, Hank Azaria (voice), Gary Cole, Elizabeth Perkins, Hugh Laurie (voice)
Rated: PG for some mild rude humor.
Runtime: 1 hour, 30 minutes


Aww, a bunny! Who’s hungry?

Although it may come as a surprise to loyal readers who know my penchant for melancholy and despondent fare, I actually quite enjoy kids’ films. There’s something very sweet in the innocence of seeing the world through their eyes, before the real world crushes their dreams and encases their hearts in a clenched icy fist.

Seeing some of the posters for “Hop” didn’t necessarily perk my interest but after watching the trailer and realizing it would be James Marsden playing Bob Hoskins to the Easter Bunny’s Roger Rabbit, I held out hope. Maybe this would be something silly and find a way to keep things fun for the adults while also appeasing the children loudly munching on popcorn and asking their parents questions every five minutes.

Marsden has shown great ability to play comedic and silly roles with just the right mix of ham and cheese (crap … getting hungry). “Enchanted” is the best example but even smaller roles in the “Death at a Funeral” remake or the otherwise tedious “Sex Drive” have shown off his smarmy charm. Playing against a CGI bunny (voiced by Russell Brand), Marsden holds his own and gives another good performance in a role so easy to misplay in less capable hands.

Brand does a nice job of imbuing the Easter Bunny with a precocious irresponsibility but his normally adult humor is obviously absent here because of the nature of the film so it’s sort of a push as to the voice casting (Hank Azaria pulls double duty as two chickens and adds some life to the animated world). Live-action casting did a nice job of filling in the supporting roles, with Kaley Cuoco playing Marsden’s sister, Elizabeth Perkins & Gary Cole filling in for Mom and Dad, and the Hoff himself … I mean, the Hoff playing himself … whatever, I never need a reason to include David Hasselhoff, I just want it to happen.

Still, the script is a little too unbalanced to make this experience something iconic. One minute we’re enjoying the interplay between Marsden and Brand’s bunny, the next we’re wading through the typical messages of sons fulfilling the expectations of their fathers and what it means to take responsibility for your potential. This leads to a film full of fits and starts, making the relatively brisk runtime of 90 minutes feel a touch longer.

There’s very, very little here for adults to enjoy but even so, my rating hinged on the film’s effectiveness for the true target demo of little people (and by that I mean actual children). While it’s safe for kids of pretty much any age level, nearly every time they tried to hammer home the messages, up rose the squirming and fidgeting factor of everyone not tall enough to ride Space Mountain. As such, I can only give “Hop” a 2.5 out of 5. It’s still the best choice to use as a de-facto babysitter for the wee ones given what else is in theaters but it’s probably cheaper to hire the real thing and get some true peace and quiet.

2.5 out of 5