So, I went to the movies today with my mom. Since most of the movies in theaters at the moment seemed pretty lame, we went with the Easter movie, HOP.
Overall? I liked it.
-- There is nothing particularly groundbreaking about this movie. It's cute, without being too cute. It's a kids movie, after all. It got bad reviews, but I do not go into a kids movie expecting literary gold. Far from it. I'm pleased if I can get through a kids movie without there being a thousand fart jokes in it. (Which HOP is pleasantly light on.)
-- Fred O'Hare - I don't know who played him... Let's see, James Marsden, was adorable. Just so damn cute. I spent half the movie ignoring whatever was going on and just looking at his cute eyes. ...What was I talking about? James Marsden is 37, but he really for me sold the childlike wonder (towards Easter) of his character.
-- E.B. -- Son of the Easter Bunny (who was played by Hugh Laurie, and my mother did not catch that... because she didn't recognize him with a British accent. Thanks, Hugh). Not too bad of a character, a bit irresponsible and reckless and yaddy blah. Could have been worse, really.
-- Parents/Family -- E.B.'s mother is not mentioned anywhere at all. It's just not an issue, so I was okay with it. The Easter Bunny's there, and he's a good dad if not a bit blinded by the family business. The O'Hares, on the other hand... are absolutely insane. And not in a good charming way. They are sick of Fred being a lazy bum, and stage an intervention with him near the beginning of the movie. Fred has two younger sisters, Sam (who is an adult as well) and Alex (who is still in her probably early teens and is adopted. There is a joke during their introduction scene that Alex was adopted to make up for Fred's shortcomings, and the parents don't deny it). To put it nicely, Fred's family is a bunch of dicks. The only halfway nice character is the sister Sam, who gives Fred a plot device early on to get things rolling. (I get some feeling she was originally written as a love interest, but was later changed to a sister. In fact, the trailers seem to imply more that she's a love interest and not a sister, so it's a bit weird.) Sam is played by Kaley Cuoco from The Big Bang Theory, so she was naturally amusing.
-- It's a kids movie, yes, but fortunately the hero of the movie is not some kid. (I suppose it falls into that vein of movies with the adult being teamed up with the adorable animal sidekick(s). Whatever.) At the same time, Fred O'Hare is an adult (his character is probably 26 or 27?), and his adorable hopping animal "sidekick" is also an adult. (The movie opens with both Fred and EB as children, and then jumps to "20 years later") who never really entirely has grown up yet. He's an out of work slacker who seems to be driven in his life by a childhood memory of seeing the real Easter Bunny deliver things on Easter when he was a kid at the beginning of the movie. He comes to believe that this was all fated for him, and if he could he would sparkle he is so damn happy about it.
-- The one "kid" in the movie is the adopted sister Alex. She boasts at the beginning that she got the role of the easter bunny in the school easter pageant thing (do schools have them any more? are they really allowed to? I thought parents had sucked all the joy out of school by now) because of her awesome singing skills. Later during the actual play, we get to hear her sing... and she is hilariously cringe-inducingly tone deaf. It's great, especially when E.B. (stowed away with Fred) starts complaining about it and interrupts the play. Fred completely upstages his little sister and aside from getting a "son I am disappoint" from his dad, he completely gets away with it. There are no repercussions for him doing so, and he doesn't have to apologize to the sister. It's really great. There is no "oh I learned my lesson my bad" from this. Quite refreshing.
-- THERE IS NO LOVE INTEREST. I know you're probably going to look a me a little funny because of that statement, but I think that it's worth making. In so many kids movies there has to be some sort of romantic subplot. Either the main character or their parent or somebody has to get hooked up with somebody else by the end of the movie, by some hidden kids movie law. This does not happen in HOP. Fred's family is solely concerned with him growing up and getting a job and movie out, but I don't think there's any mention anywhere of him getting a girlfriend. E.B. has a few female related comments made, but otherwise that plot idea just isn't there. Fred and E.B. have a nice odd couple bromance thing going on by the end, and it fortunately isn't tainted by anything with boobs.
-- The interview scenes -- Made me totally uncomfortable. Probably because I'm a similar situation to Fred right now, and I know how much that whole thing sucks without a talking bunny rabbit making things more complicated.
-- David Hasselhoff - Really stole the show in the scenes he was in. And he delivered one of the best jokes of the movie, which sadly probably went over the heads of most of the kids in the audience. When Fred and EB ask why the Hoff is not surprised by seeing a talking rabbit, he points out that one of his best friends "is a talking car". (He's obviously referring to KITT from Knight Rider, but even my mom admitted to me after the movie she didn't immediately get the joke.)
-- The candy factory -- If the candy factory scenes in the Willy Wonka movies made you queasy, you might need to close your eyes a few times during HOP. It really gives Wonka's factory a run for its gold foiled money.
-- Not Christian? -- I noticed that at one point the Easter Bunny tells E.B. that they can't throw away 4,000 years of tradition because E.B. doesn't want the job. Maybe I heard the line wrong, but he definitely does not say "two thousand years", which would tie the Easter Island Easter yeehaw in to the Christian holiday. Perhaps the easter bunny started working originally for pagan festivals? In 2,000 BC? A bit odd, but the fact is only touched on that once in the movie. The Easter holiday itself in the movie is never plugged in a religious sense, and seems more to simply be a date of importance than anything else.
-- The villain -- Has a Mexican accent. Carlos the chick (voiced by Hank Azaria) has a Mexican accent and talks with a similar flair. The end. Some people got bent out of shape about it, because apparently only white sounding chicks are allowed to be evil. Or something. There's really not a heavy emphasis on this, and there's not like a string of Hispanic insulting jokes or anything. I really think Carlos just has the name/accent/shtick to differentiate him from the thousands of other chicks running around.
-- The ending -- Cheesey and a little heavy handed. After being a complete dick to him the entire movie, his dad has your usual happy ending change of heart. So does the rest of his family. I'm okay with it, because Fred is happy.
-- The movie is pretty clean -- The raunchiest really that the movie gets is the "easter bunny poops jelly beans" gag that comes up a few times. (And Sam later eats one of the jelly beans, to no ill effect.) Considering that the movie previews that were screened before HOP were full of fart/poop/puke jokes (The Smurfs preview and the Hoodwinked 2 preview being major culprits), I was glad to find little of anything of that sort in the movie proper.
-- The music in the movie had an interesting mix of songs from different generations. It was a bit weird to hear the bunny jamming along with Good Charlotte and Hole, though.
-- The animation was overall pretty clean and nicely styled (although the eyes are a little weird). Most of the scenes are set up to avoid awkward eye-lines with the human characters.
-- I'm still wondering how a thousand tiny chicks can pull a flying sled when they can't even fly themselves. And why don't they ever grow up? Oh well. MAGIC!
- Sforzie's Review (sorta) of HOP