The Review: Russell Brand is absolute comedy Marmite, pure and simple. It’s legally not permitted to have any sense of ambivalence for the big haired, roughly accented Mr Katy Perry, so your tolerance for him will determine whether or not you can stomach this. While it might look like a cute fluffy bunny, the personality is absolutely Brandian and although it’s been sanitised for the kiddies, if the waffly ramblings and strangled rantings aren’t your cup of tea then it would be best to turn back now. Seriously. Stop reading this review, there’s nothing for you to see here. Come back later when I’m dissecting a four hour Norwegian art house sci-fi romance. Right – they gone? Time to confess that I’ve been partial to a bit of Brand ever since his dinkle-obsessed Big Brother days, and although I wouldn’t condone his behaviour in Sachsgate, it was blown rather out of proportion. So I am entertained by Russell Brand, and actually Hop captures him on a good day.
With that established, it’s time to look at the very concept of Hop itself. Many movies over the years have attempted to tap into the Christmas spirit of good will, brotherly love, understanding and a benevolent fat man breaking into houses and swapping food for presents. So many, in fact, that new concepts for Christmas movies have been somewhat exhausted, leaving Hollywood to start attacking other holidays and festivities. While it’s easy to pin down the Christmas concept, the true spirit of Easter is harder to nail, if you’ll pardon the pun. So the Easter concept apparently consists entirely of leaving eggs in people’s gardens and leaving mystical chocolate rabbits for them. Tasked with this thankless objective is James Marsden, who has a gift for physical comedy and also for making a complete tit of himself, skills which are required frequently here.
The plot, what there is of it, consists of Marsden becoming vaguely obsessed with the Easter bunny after a sighting at a very young age. Cut to several decades later, and Marsden is dropping out at his parents’ house. (We’ll overlook the fact that he’s old enough to be the wrong side of a mid-life crisis, and that all of the animals involved should be very, very dead after this long.) So we watch the contrasts as Brand’s E.B. and Marsden’s Fred both rebel against their situations and attempt to find meaning in their lives. And that’s about it; obstacles present themselves, faintly humorous situations occur and Easter is placed in a mild amount of peril, the loss of which would leave children all over the world with slightly lower levels of chocolate. Other mild perils include untidy rooms and a tricky job interview, and Hop is about as non-threatening as it’s possible to be.
So what reasons to watch Hop? There are roughly three, and Brand and Marsden are two of them. Both are high energy, have a good double act and give the material more credit than it deserves. The other is Hank Azaria, who contributes a couple of voices, including a randomly Spanish chick who drives the plot in the last third. (You might remember him from such cartoons at “The Simpsons”.) Other than that, Kaley Cuoco trots out the same solitary facial expression she uses on The Big Bang Theory, Gary Cole is mildly wasted and Elizabeth Perkins has one of those “such-a-nothing-role-I-could-have-played-it-and-you-wouldn’t-have-noticed” roles. Tim “Alvin And The Chipmunks” Hill does as little with his direction here as he does there, so it’s the talent of the performers that will keep you engaged – and when I say you, it’s likely you’ll still be at primary school or very easily pleased if you are thrilled with this. There is, though, one last possible draw, and that’s an extended cameo from The Hoffmeister himself, who still acts as if he owns a talking car and generally wildly unbalances the film in the best way possible. When the three stars or The Hoff are on screen, it’s at least OK, but otherwise it’s as hollow as an Easter egg and about as fulfilling.
Why see it at the cinema: I love David Hasselhoff. If you love David Hasselhoff, then you could do a lot worse. Well, a bit worse. For everyone else, if you want to see Hank Azaria voicing a giant Spanish chicken, then step right up.
The Score: 5/10