By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060
Hop to it, kids. This one’s for you.
Whether that’s a good or a bad thing will be decided, you can be sure, by your elders.
“E. B.,” voiced by Russell Brand, is the son of the Easter bunny. His dad (voiced by Hugh Laurie) wants him to be next in line for his prestigious title and to take over the family business, but E.B. wants to be a drummer in a rock-’n'-roll band.
Needless to say, this doesn’t please his pop, who wants to keep the job in the family, but it’s absolutely fine with the ambitious head Easter chick (Hank Azaria), who is interested in the position himself, his species notwithstanding, as part of his plan for chicks to replace bunnies in taking over the holiday.
But E.B. has made up his mind, so he leaves Easter Island and heads for the hills of Hollywood, intent on turning musical pro.
No sooner does he hit Los Angeles than a car hits him. He survives intact, but he milks the extent of his injury so that the driver, one Fred O’Hare, a slacker played by James Marsden (who shares with E.B. the predicament of being a disappointment in the eyes of his father) will take him in as a houseguest at the mansion where he is house-sitting, a gig that his sister (Kaley Cuoco) has gotten for him.
Experienced kid-flick director Tim Hill (Alvin and the Chipmunks, Muppets from Space, Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties) smoothly meshes live action sequences with scenes that mix live actors and computer-generated imagery.
And in his youngster-pleasing arsenal are Marsden, who proves a naturally charming lead and a good sport; a colorful array of vivid animated characters; lively and knowing voiceovers by old pros Azaria and Laurie; and a parade of spiffy sight gags that don’t feel or look like retreads.
What surprises and actually stands out is the script by Cinco Hall, Ken Daurio, and Brian Lynch based on a story by Hall and Daurio, which — respecting the intelligence of their young audience and not wanting to put all their Easter eggs in one basket — covers all its narrative bases. The trio of screenwriters has ignored the expected tendency in live-action-and-computer-animation hybrid projects to play to the small fry by going icky-cutesy.
Instead, they maintain a higher level of wit and creativity than grownups are used to in movie projects aimed at young children. Oh, the scenarists know what makes kids laugh, but they don’t overdo the childishly gross stuff, as so many other kidflicks do. Rather, this movie is legitimately funny. Not oh-you-know-kids-they’ll-laugh-at-anything funny. Just funny.
And rather than running out of steam in its late reels, the way so many one-dimensional children’s movies do, this one gains momentum as it proceeds and generates laughs all the way through.
This just might become a seasonal perennial, and a deserved one at that.
So we’ll color an Easter egg with 3 stars out of 4 for Hop. I think your kids will be dazzled. This kid was.