A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this live-action/computer-animation hybrid Easter comedy has a positive message about reaching for your dreams. Characters occasionally use insults like "idiot," "stupid," and "freak," and there's some slapstick violence and one brief scene in which it looks like the Easter Bunny might be in trouble -- but even kids will be able to tell that everything will be OK. In one early scene, E.B. tries to get into the Playboy mansion because he thinks it's a haven for rabbits, but only adults will get the related jokes, and nothing risque is shown. Although the movie is Easter-themed, it doesn't include any references to the holiday's religious meaning (which could be a plus or a minus, depending on your family's own beliefs).
- Parents say
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What's the story?
The Easter Bunny (voiced by Hugh Laurie) lives on Easter Island, preparing for another year's trip around the world to deliver baskets full of treats. He's preparing his son, E.B. (Russell Brand), to succeed him, but E.B. isn't interested in taking over for his father -- he wants to be a drummer. Afraid of his father's expectations, E.B. takes a rabbit hole trip to Hollywood, where he hopes to make it big as a rock musician. Instead, he almost gets run over by Fred (James Marsden), an aimless twentysomething whose parents would really like him to move out and get a job. Fred can't believe his eyes (and ears) when E.B. starts talking to him, and the two of them end up becoming unlikely friends who help each other save Easter -- and their goals for a fulfilling career.
Is it any good?
HOP is nothing more than a generic holiday movie with a bunny swapped in for good ol' St. Nick. Director Tim Hill is a kids' flick veteran, and, after Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties and Alvin and the Chipmunks, somewhat of an "expert" at comedies that feature both live-action and computer-animated creatures. It's a shame that most movies that attempt that form of hybridization (Yogi Bear, Marmaduke) are just plain awful, but in a way Hop benefits from the low expectations that adult moviegoers will have for this subgenre of family films. It's unquestionably better than the atrocious Yogi and passably better than Marmaduke, but that's still not saying much.
Marsden is a talented, appealing actor. He's one of those dashing-looking types who's best known for supporting roles (Enchanted, X-Men, Hairspray) and can pull off most characters with his easy charm. So it's a tad ludicrous that he was cast as Fred, since the 37-year-old in no way looks like an early-to-mid-20s slacker, and the role would have been more believable in the hands of a lovable loser-style comedian. His miscasting aside, the movie manages to be amusing enough thanks to Marsden's rapport with Brand, who raises his voice to sound a bit younger as the rock-loving adolescent bunny. Special mention must go the voice-talent genius of Hank Azaria, who plays Carlos the Chick, the Easter Bunny's candy-factory foreman who wants to usurp E.B. as the next Easter Bunny. Azaria makes Carlos the scene-stealer of this lighthearted jellybean of a comedy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's messages. Why is it important to pursue your dreams? What if you don't succeed?
What does the movie say about father-son relationships? Do you think parents should support their kids' job choices and dreams no matter what? Which father did a better job of understanding his son's goals, E.B.'s or Fred's?
For viewers who celebrate Easter, how do the movie's themes compare with your family's ideas and traditions surrounding the holiday?
- In theaters: April 1, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: March 20, 2012
- Cast: Hank Azaria, James Marsden, Kaley Cuoco, Russell Brand
- Director: Tim Hill
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Holidays
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild rude humor
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