It is fitting that Hop lacks an e in its name. While it hops all about the screen in spasmic fits of bunnyness, it fails to deliver hope for animated family fare. What a disappointment. Allow me to explain why.
E.B. is the son of the Easter Bunny. Get it? E.B.? Easter Bunny? Yea, I thought it was dumb, too.
E.B. wants to be a rockstar drummer in a band. His father wants him to take over the generations-old family business of providing easter happiness the world over. What’s a teenage bunny to do?
Rebel, of course! So, he runs away to Hollywood! And where does he go first? Hugh Hefner’s Playboy mansion. Yes, that’s right, parents. Playboy is prominently and twice featured in this PG rated (for “mild rude humor”) family film. When E.B. interacts with Hefner through the outdoor security system, he learns that Hugh only provides shelter for “sexy” bunnies, to which E.B. replies, “I can be sexy!”
And then there is Fred. He is a nearly thirty year old man who lacks direction in life, living at home with no job, or job prospects. Understandably, his father is exasperated with him. The whole family conspires to execute an intervention designed to kick him out of the house and set him on his way toward personal responsibility. That’s all well and good, but it makes me wonder when the parents, especially the father, will take responsibility for their part in raising such a directionless son? A telling moment occurs at the dinner table during this intervention when their adopted pre-teen daughter reads her confrontation letter, informing Fred that they adopted her out of their disappointment in him. Her older sister rebuked her rudeness, but the parents did not make any effort to deny it. The interchange garners sympathy for Fred’s dysfunctional upbringing.
Dysfunctional families seem to be the narrative device of choice for the writers of Hop. Both E.B. and Fred must deal with disapproving and disappointed fathers who expect them to grow up and make something of themselves. In E.B.’s case, there is no mother present. In Fred’s case, the mother is portrayed as not-all-there, a caricature of all the worst sit-com moms rolled into a one dimensional train wreck.
When Fred house sits a wealthy Beverly Hills home in place of his older sister as a favor, he is runs into E.B. Literally. He hit the poor bunny in the driveway. E.B., apparently a graduate of teen sit-com acting school, feigns serious injury to gain Fred’s sympathy.
There are some funny moments which produced laughs from me, but more often there were moments where I groaned and all the little tykes in the audience laughed and laughed. Like when E.B. pooped jelly beans and Fred’s sister tried one, much to Fred’s dismay. Watermelon. She particularly liked that one. Or there was the moment when she thought E.B. was a robotic stuffed animal, and she hugged him while he hugged her in return, sensually stroking and smelling her hair. The kids roared in laughter. I could only think about how unnecessary the sensual element was to the storyline. It’s as if the writers wanted to use this moment and the playboy mansion scenes as fodder to groom the imaginations of all the little tykes who will view the film.
Am I the only one who sees something wrong with this? I hope not.
Hop has some redeeming elements which I review in depth on Kidology.org. I will not repeat them here at length, except to say that the movie tries hard to speak to strained relationships between fathers and sons, and the importance of both to make amends between each other. This is a worthy theme, albeit very poorly executed.
I chose to view this film based on the promise the writers demonstrated through their work in the critically acclaimed Despicable Me. Lesson learned. I do not regret seeing the film, however, so that I may warn others before they subject themselves to its abject stupidity.