Genre(s): Comedy, Animation, Family
Universal | PG – 96 min. – $39.98 | March 23, 2012
Directed by: Tim Hill
Writer(s): Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio (story), Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio and Brian Lynch (screenplay)
Cast: James Marsden, Russell Brand (voice), Kaley Cuoco, Hank Azaria (voice), Gary Cole, Elizabeth Perkins, David Hasselhoff, Chelsea Handler, Hugh Laurie (voice)
Theatrical Release Date: April 1, 2011
Features: U-Control, Featurettes, BD-Live, DVD Copy, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1), French (DTS 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.85
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Disc Size: 39.3 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C (unconfirmed)
THE MOVIE – 2.5/5
When it comes to animated/live-action family movies, I’m normally forgiving taking into account the target audience. I’ve watched a few which were made solely for kids under a certain age leaving parents to hope the torture won’t last too long. The Smurfs was tolerable while the Alvin and the Chipmunks and its sequels were often excruciating to get through. So, where does Hop fit in with the others? Eh, while it’s not god awful, this movie will test even the most patient adult.
The story follows Easter-Bunny-in-Waiting E.B. (voiced by RUSSELL BRAND) and human Fred O’Hare (JAMES MARSDEN), both of whom must deal with disappointed fathers. E.B.’s father (HUGH LAURIE) has been grooming his son since a young age to take over the family business – despite the pursuit of chick Carlos (HANK AZARIA) who wants to be the Easter Bunny – E.B. doesn’t have the passion to take over the business and instead has a love for drumming. Fred is lost in life turning down one job after another and living at home watching crime TV, much to the chagrin of father Henry (GARY COLE).
Rather than take on the responsibilities of being the Easter Bunny, E.B. runs away to Hollywood in pursuit of his dreams. Meanwhile, Fred is kicked out of the house but receives a lifeline from his sister (KALEY CUOCO) who was set to housesit at her boss’ mansion and take care of his dogs and offers her brother the job as a temporary place to stay. There is one condition: he must stay out of the second floor… so surely nothing will happen, right? RIGHT?!?!
In a chance meeting, E.B., after being denied housing at the Playboy Mansion, is almost run over by Fred who learns, much to his shock (his alone as nobody else in the film is nearly as surprised), that E.B. is a rabbit who can talk. Faking injury, E.B. manages to talk his way into staying with Fred who relegates E.B. to the garage. Of course, I’m sure the next morning Fred will wake up to find E.B. still inside, right? RIGHT?!?! Nope, Fred wakes up, finds the garage empty and the annoying critter on the second floor drumming on Rock Band and making a mess of things.
Later in the movie, after some more rabbit shenanigans, Fred assists E.B. in achieving his dream of being a professional drummer by auditioning for David Hasselhoff (appearing as himself) and surprisingly not only does E.B. do real well, but Hasselhoff (and anyone else in the room) seem pretty cool about it being done by a talking rabbit… Sure, makes sense.
Meanwhile, back on Easter Island, where the Easter Egg factory is located, the Easter Bunny is desperate to get his son back and sends out the Pink Berets (a Special Forces like unit) while Carlos schemes to take over the operation. The Berets are on the trail of E.B. and through some “hilarious” miscommunication in which E.B. fakes his death leading the Berets to believe Fred had killed him. This leads to the big finale that is pretty mundane and obvious.
Hop isn’t a particularly bad movie and when I wasn’t rolling my eyes at some of the weaker moments (as in nobody other than Fred being astounded by a talking rabbit), I did manage to chuckle a few times and, for as little screen time as she had, admire the beauty that is Kaley Cuoco outside her character from “The Big Bang Theory”.
As far as the stars are concerned, I can’t really have a quarrel with either James Marsden as he’s serviceable in the primary human role or Russell Brand as the primary voice role. I will say, I’ve never been much of a fan of Brand’s so at least only seeing him for a split second (he makes a cameo near the end as a production assistant). The supporting players are OK as well, albeit largely wasted on a half-baked script with few laughs and average animation.
Directed by Tim Hill, whose resume includes Alvin and the Chipmunks, Muppets from Space and Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, and with a writing background in comedy (“SpongeBob Square Pants), it seems Hill is the go-to guy when it comes to the live action-animation field. Unfortunately the scripts he’s handed tend to be utter crap and although I hardly think Hop is at the bottom of the barrel with Alvin 2, it’s still far off from many other animated films. It’s not very smart in its storytelling, the voicing acting itself isn’t anything special, the plotline isn’t fit for feature length and worse yet, the jokes, while cute, aren’t that funny.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.5/5
The Blu-ray comes housed in a standard Blu-ray case and an embossed slip cover. It might look like a lot of features, but the featurettes only total 28 minutes and they’re all fluff.
U-Control – In Universal’s signature Blu-ray feature, you can watch the movie with “Hop Tweets” (i.e. pop-up trivia) and “Green Beret Tracker” (storyboard artwork). It’s really nothing special and probably one of the weaker U-Control features I’ve come across. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Phil’s Party Dance (3:14; HD) – The minor character Phil and Carlos shows off their dancing skills.
The World of Hop (TRT 9:07; HD) contains a six short and self-explanatory featurettes: A Look at the Candy Factory (1:34), A Look at E.B. (2:02), A Look at Fred (1:19), A Look at the Easter Bunny (1:10), A Look at Carlos and Phil (1:45) and A Look at Sam (1:17). Each is short and offers nothing of value.
All Access with Cody Simpson (2:28; HD) – Singer Cody Simpson (who sung the “I Want Candy” cover) gives a behind-the-scenes look at doing the song. Maybe tweens know who he is and care about this featurette?
Russell Brand: Being the Bunny (1:07; HD) – This strange and satirical “featurette” has Brand explaining how he prepared for playing a bunny.
Russell Brand’s Kid Crack Ups (2:57; HD) – In this mock game show, to promote the movie, finds Brand talking to kids, asking them questions and making jokes in between.
Carlos on Carlos: The Premiere According to Carlos (3:30; HD) – The overconfident chick brings his own camera to the Hop premiere and interviews the actors.
Emotion in Motion: The Dance of Ken Daurio (2:34; HD) – This is a mock featurette finds Daurio talk about doing chorography for the Phil animated character. Yeah, it’s not that funny.
Post Coup Commentary: Carlos & Phil Tell All (2:59; HD) – Hank Azaria, voicing both characters, does a commentary over a few shots. It’s another mock featurette and only *might* be entertaining for kids.
Games – In this submenu, you can play three of games: Drum Along, Pink Beret Skill Tester and E.B.’s Candu Challenge.
This release also comes with a BD-Live portal, a DVD Copy and a Digital Copy where you get a choice of downloading it onto your computer or utilizing UltraViolet.
VIDEO – 4.25/5
Universal presents Hop in its original 1.85 widescreen aspect ratio and although I don’t think it’s an amazing looking transfer, it’s still quite good. The detail level throughout is nice, albeit it looks a tad better when we’re in the real world versus the animated one, though the color array does benefit in those scenes. The transfer itself has a fine layer of natural noise and movie grain only lending itself to the feel of film.
AUDIO – 4.25/5
The disc has a nice sounding 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track which is amplified whenever we get into a musical score or some hip, current songs. The dialogue levels are also well done primarily coming from the center channel while the other speakers are used for ambient noises.
OVERALL – 3.0/5
Overall, if you don’t have anything else on the shelf for your kids to watch, then Hop might be worth a rental. If you don’t have kids, then skip it completely. The Blu-ray doesn’t amount to much either with light/fluffy features though the video and audio transfers are good.