Thursday, March 31, 2011

Review - Hop

Is there a correlation between the fact that the two Russell Brand film performances I've enjoyed most have been the two in which we don't have to look at him? I enjoyed Brand's vocal turn in last year's Despicable Me and – against all odds – I enjoyed his new family comedy Hop. Believe me, I'm as surprised as you are. The film might look like a lazy rehash of old Santa Clause movies hastily cobbled together for the Easter holidays, but it just about manages to get away with it thanks to a couple of individually strong elements that make up for the various flaws and general lack of imagination. Brand voices EB, the teenage son of the Easter Bunny (Hugh Laurie) who has no desire to inherit the family business, instead dreaming of stardom as a drummer. He flees to Hollywood, where he causes havoc in the life of slacker Fred (James Marsden) while a malevolent chick (a reliably terrific Hank Azaria) back on Easter Island plans a coup d'├ętat against EB's father.

Hop's screenplay is perilously thin, with both EB and Fred having to resolve standard-issue daddy issues (Christ, Hollywood, let's give that motivation a rest, eh?), and EB's sidetrack into an America's Got Talent-style contest is a waste of everyone's time (including David Hasselhoff, who is excruciatingly awful as himself). But Hop is lively and intermittently amusing, and alongside the fine voice work there's a disarmingly goofy performance from James Marsden to enjoy. I've got a lot of time for Marsden, who throws himself into comic roles with unflagging energy and a complete lack of vanity, and his charming central display buoys Hop along almost single-handedly in its weaker moments. All in all, this is passably entertaining family fare for Easter, even if you'll barely remember it by the time you've polished off your chocolate eggs.