HOP is a delightful film sure to please the kids. It’s the story of EB (voiced by Russell Brand), the teenage son of the Easter Bunny, who in typical adolescent rebellion is reluctant to take over the reins of his father (voiced by Hugh Laurie). Instead, he would much rather make it big by becoming a drummer in a band. In desperation, he runs away from Easter Island where the candy factory is located, and is transported to Hollywood, whereupon he gets run over by a car operated by a young man (Fred, acted by James Marsden) who is having similar problems with his own father. After many skirmishes between the two, with Fred trying to dump the bunny, they eventually become friends and help one another fulfill their dreams.
The film is a successful combination of CG animation and live action, beautifully colored. It opens with a scene on Easter Island, with EB playing atop one of the famous statues. His father finds him there and wants him to come inside the candy factory, located within another one of the statues. The doors open to a fantasyland with all kinds of candy being produced by little chicks who are supervised by the head chick, Carlos (voice of Hank Azaria). There is much in the film that is good for young people to hear: friends helping one another; children needing to grow up, become their own person, leave home, and work for a living; and loyalty to friends being more important than fame. They also see something of world geography and exposure to other cultures.
For adults, there are references to current events (labor uprisings), “pink berets” sent out to rescue and bring back a wayward son, the Blind Boys of Alabama, and songs that pair nicely with the story, but are recognizable past hits. This is in addition to family issues that most adults would appreciate, e.g., the adult son who is reluctant to get a job. His family’s “intervention” in trying to get through to Fred is a humorous part of the story—but primarily for the adults.
One troubling aspect of the film for this reviewer is the stereotyping of races. The superintendent at the candy factory, Carlos, has a distinctly Mexican accent, and as he smolders at his boss’ slights, he plans an uprising against what he sees as tyranny, particularly in father passing on the leadership to his son when the son seems unqualified. Fred’s sister is an adopted Asian who is portrayed as competitive and unsympathetic toward him, whereas the blond, biological sister is nurturing and helpful. China is portrayed as “the others” who dump out the Easter Bunny and basket, not buying into American beliefs and customs.
It’s a shame the filmmakers (Tim Hill, Director, et al.) included such things in an otherwise playful and instructive movie. It makes me wonder if they really feel those biases, or if they are simply insensitive to the world today and what is going on in this country and around the world.
By: Donna R. Copeland