It’s two weeks before Easter, and Easter Island is abuzz with frenetic activity. In a clandestine, high-tech compound far beneath the mysterious, stoic stone faces the island is famous for, a small army of rabbits and chicks works frantically to manufacture all the candy and colored eggs the Easter Bunny will deliver to the world’s children on Easter morn.
This year, though, is a momentous one, because young E.B. is set to take over the coveted mantle of Easter Bunny from his aging, conscientious father. There’s only one problem: Doling out chocolate eggs and marshmallow chicks to children isn’t E.B.’s cup o’ carrots. No, he’d rather be a rock star. Specifically, a drummer.
It’s a “calling” his father isn’t sympathetic toward. “Four thousand years of tradition doesn’t end just because one selfish bunny doesn’t feel like doing it,” he intones. Instead, the aging rabbit patriarch stresses the virtue and responsibility attached to the family’s proud, multi-millennia history as Easter Bunnies. Time for E.B. to get his act together and represent rabbitkind with honor.
E.B., for his part, is just plain stressed, certain that he won’t be able to live up to his father’s high expectations … and certain that he’d rather just put on a flannel and pound his drums. So, like any self-absorbed young buck, er, bunny, with two drumsticks and a dream, our erstwhile hero plunges into a rabbit hole en route to Hollywood, where he hopes to beat bongos professionally.
He’s not there long before he’s almost run over by a twentysomething dreamer named Fred O’Hare. As fate would have it, the two have much in common: an underachieving attitude paired with an unlikely longing to do something great with their lives.
As Fred tries in vain to land a job he can commit to, E.B. chases the good life … and lands a spot on David Hasselhoff’s reality TV competition Hoff Knows Talent. But when Fred disappears and a bitter, oversized chick named Carlos stages a coup back on Easter Island, E.B. has to decide whether he cares more about his self-absorbed notions of fame than he does his relationships with those closest to him.
Hop‘s central theme revolves around the struggle two young male characters face as they move from adolescence to adulthood. Both Fred and E.B. feel they’ve failed to uphold their fathers’ lofty ideals. Still, they long for their dads’ approval. But both have unconventional ideas about how they’d like to use their talents—ideas that their dads don’t always understand or embrace. In the end, though, each father realizes his particular son’s unique natural bent. Likewise, the two sons, who’ve made some poor and self-centered choices, eventually embrace responsibility in a way that makes their dads proud.
Fred’s family is close-knit and interested in helping him grow up. Their concern is manifested as a tough-love intervention in which they inform him he must move out of the house and find a job. Though Fred wants only what he considers to be the best jobs, his parents encourage him to find any job and do his best at it. And even though she’s not supposed to help him (by the terms of the intervention), Fred’s kind sister Sam wants her brother to succeed and sets up a job interview for him.
In the film’s comedically dramatic conclusion, E.B. and Fred both put themselves at risk to stop Carlos, who morphs into something pretty close to a campy James Bond-style villain.
Peoples’ destiny is spoken of frequently, and the “egg of destiny” scepter is said to be imbued with significant powers. The “icy hand” of death is mentioned, as is the “magic” of Easter. That magic is most apparent when a full moon shines through a special window and boosts a squadron of chicks’ flying powers, enabling them to pull a sleigh-like egg around the world as the Easter Bunny dispenses candy in the same way Santa dispenses presents.
As for the real, Christian meaning in the Easter holiday, there’s nothing in the film that deals with that. The only visual reference to Christianity we see is when Carlos paints an egg with Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel scene of God reaching out to touch Adam’s hand … except that Adam has been replaced by Carlos extending a yellow wing.
The first place E.B. goes after arriving in L.A. is the Playboy Mansion, because he’s attracted to the magazine’s famous bunny logo on a map of the vicinity. Hugh Hefner tells him via a speaker at the gate that he’s only interested in “sexy bunnies,” to which E.B. replies that he is a bunny and is “incredibly sexy.” A bit later, three female Pink Beret bunnies, who are pursuing E.B., have a very brief conversation with Hef as well.
David Hasselhoff tells E.B. that with fame he can have “all the bunnies” he’d ever want. Elsewhere, someone says that Fred deserves to have “hot babes” in his life. An odd bit of innuendo creeps in when E.B. jokes that he’s willing to let Fred see other bunnies if he wants to. Sam picks up E.B., thinking he’s a stuffed animal, and the rabbit sniffs her hair and enjoys being held. He likes it so much that later he asks Fred if Sam is seeing anyone.
Women’s outfits are sometimes low-cut. We glimpse female contestants wearing skimpy outfits as they stand in line to try out for Hoff Knows Talent. Fred and E.B. lead a group grade-school Easter pageant participants (and the audience) in a spontaneous rendition of the double entendre-laden tune “I Want Candy.”
Hop is hip to quite a bit of cartoonish slapstick violence. Among the most intense moments: A conveyor belt saws narrowly miss E.B.’s face (snipping some whiskers) in the movie’s Bond-like final battle. An encounter with the moon magic that energizes the chicks causes Carlos to rapidly (violently?) grow rabbit feet and ears (with accompanying stretching noises). Carlos clobbers another chick over the head with a scepter, knocking him off a high pedestal. Fred and the Easter Bunny are slowly lowered toward a vat of boiling pink candy (but escape unharmed).
Carlos orders his chick minions to “dice, slice and pulverize” E.B. A frozen turkey in a pot of water is thought to be E.B.’s dead body. After nearly running him over with a car, Fred thinks E.B. is dying. He heaves a large rock above his head, ready to put the rabbit out of his misery before E.B. speaks up. Fred says people will dissect E.B.’s brain if they discover he can talk. Ferocious dogs chase and bite Fred, who wears protective clothing to protect against their attacks.
The Pink Berets leap from buildings, wield carrot-shaped nunchacku, and use tranquilizing blow darts to subdue humans and animals. A rabbit is shoved into a wastebasket and, later, a drawer.
A character says “oh my god” twice in quick succession. We also hear references to “crap,” “poop,” “buttocks,” “butt,” “poo” and “pee.”
A bunny uses an asthma inhaler.
A subtle thread of rebellion jumps around in Hop. Both Fred and E.B. repeatedly deceive and manipulate to get out of tight situations, mostly without much repercussion. Like a spoiled, irresponsible adolescent, E.B. makes light of the rules in the home where Fred is house-sitting, repeatedly trashing the place. (Note though that in the end it seems as if both characters are on the way to growing up and making more responsible decisions.)
E.B. sports the unique “talent” of being able to defecate jellybeans. In one such scene, we watch as he furrows his brow and grunts, then steps aside to reveal what he’s excreted. Later, Sam comes across one such pile of jellybeans and eats one, much to Fred’s grimacing horror. Elsewhere, E.B. apologizes for “jellybean[ing] all over” someone’s dream. And when Fred tells E.B. he can spend the night in the garage, the rabbit replies, “I’ll just sleep down here, among the poo and pee like a pig.”
E.B. talks about dry heaving. Carlos eats two large handfuls of wriggling worms. Out of contempt, a chick spits at Fred.
Questionable soundtrack choices include the likes of Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite” and The Trammps’ “Disco Inferno.”
For decades, Hollywood has looked to fill its coffers in December by retelling, re-imagining and re-envisioning all manner of secularized Santa stories. Hop is the latest in that long tradition—except that instead of December it’s April, and instead of focusing on Christmas and Santa and reindeer and gifts, this animated/live-action hybrid exchanges those familiar elements for a parallel tale about an aging Easter Bunny and his immature, would-be hare, er, we mean, heir. If anything, it’s a bit surprising it took Tinseltown this long to figure out that the same holiday formula it’s been using at Christmas could also be applied to Easter.
Like the vast majority of those films it emulates, Hop completely avoids the true spiritual meaning of the holiday. Instead, we get lighthearted, mostly innocuous fare that’s been expertly focus-grouped to make people feel good … and to suck money from families’ wallets. After all, what family wouldn’t want to go see a silly bunny with an English accent (voiced by notoriously bawdy comedian Russell Brand) hop around Hollywood?
We say “mostly innocuous” because by today’s animation standards, the film’s over-the-line gags (E.B.’s excretion of jelly beans, for example), are fewer and further between than many of its PG-rated peers (such as Rango and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, both of which are competing for the same family dollar at the cineplex right now). Hugh Heffner’s vocal cameo and reference to “sexy bunnies” may well be the biggest offender in this respect.
The stickily sweet and superficial recipe for this hollow chocolate Easter bunny? Three spoonfuls of silly antics. Two squirts of “colorful” humor. One pinch of jellybean puree, with all of the onscreen implications assigned to that substance. And absolutely zero grams of spiritual meaning or even acknowledgement.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.
Reviews from previous PluggedIn Staff members