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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Hop

March 24th, 2012

Hop - Buy from Amazon: DVD, DVD Double-Pack, or Blu-ray Combo Pack

Hop hit theaters last year just in time for Easter and follows in the footsteps of the Alvin and the Chipmunks films with live action / digitally animated cast. Those films earned a lot at the box office, but were savaged by critics. This film was not as popular at the box office, but is it the better film?

The Movie

The film begins with Fred O'Hare explaining the great traditions that is the Easter Bunny and the long line of bunnies that have held that position. He also explains that he is the first human Easter Bunny. But how did that happen?

That story begins on Rapa Nui, Easter Island with E.B. playing the bongos on one of the many Moai statues. His Father arrives to take him to work for the first time. As the son of the Easter Bunny, E.B. is excited to see all of the candy being made. He even samples the Peeps, which draws the ire of Carlos, who is second in command to the Easter Bunny.

Meanwhile in Van Nuys, we see a young Young Fred wake up and see the Easter Bunny's workers arrive to hand out candies in the middle of the night, but are gone before he can get his camera. Flash forward twenty years later and a now adult Fred is sitting down with his family for dinner, his mother, his father, and his two sisters. This is not just your typical uncomfortable family dinner, as Fred is the subject of an intervention. They are worried that he hasn't left home and grown up. Sam does help him out by getting him a job interview and getting him to house sit for her boss in the meantime.

At the same time, E.B. is dealing with his Father. E.B. is supposed to be crowned the next Easter Bunny, but his heart just isn't in it. He wants to be a drummer in a rock band. When his father forbids that, E.B. runs away to Hollywood, where dreams come true. Unless his dream is being hit by a car, it will have to be put on hold, as Fred hits him on the way to the mansion he's to house sit. When E.B. first speaks to Fred, Fred freaks out, which is an understandable reaction to hearing a bunny rabbit speak. After an initial misstep in their relationship, E.B. reveals he is the Easter Bunny and Fred agrees to let him stay in the mansion.

Here's the thing, E.B. isn't really the Easter Bunny, his Father is. At least his father is the Easter Bunny for a while. While the Easter Bunny has been trying to groom E.B. to take over, Carlos has been wanting the position for himself, and when the Easter Bunny refuses to even consider Carlos as the next in line, he decides to take the crown with force.

At least that happens eventually. It actually takes quite a while for that plot to develop and for most of the movie we deal with E.B. wanting to be a drummer and Fred trying dealing with his family's expectations. (Not to mention Fred trying to cope with E.B.) This part of the story is far too grounded for a family film about the Easter Bunny. There is some sense of wonder very early on when E.B. is first shown the Easter Factory, and this part is the best part of the movie, but for the next hour or so, we are stuck in the world of dysfunctional families. I don't think young kids will be interested in watching E.B. arguing with his father about being a drummer or watching Fred's intervention. Even the dynamic between E.B. and Fred is strangely inert.

There's very little here that's fresh or original and without the energy needed to elevate the mediocre material, there's little to recommend. It's not aggressively bad like the Alvin and the Chipmunk films and parents will merely be bored rather than driven to emotional distress.

(On a side note, there are some scenes where the CG creations don't blend in well with the live action actors. One scene stands out the most, the one where E.B. touches Sam's hair. It was distracting.)

The Extras

There are a lot of extras on the DVD Double-Pack / Blu-ray, but it is a serious case of quantity over quality. There are more than a dozen featurettes, but not one of them is more than a few minutes long. Many are barely more than a minute long. There are a trio of games that should entertain the little ones. The Blu-ray also has a U-Control track, but it's also pretty weak. As for the technical presentation, it is mixed. There are some scenes that have great detail levels, strong colors, deep blacks, etc. Other scenes were a little softer, including many with the CG / Live Action issues I mentioned above. Perhaps if the picture was clearer, the CG would look even more out of place. The audio is a little better with clear dialogue, good separation, but there are not a lot of directional effects, nor is the subwoofer given a workout. On the other hand, the Blu-ray Combo Pack is only $3 more than the single-disc DVD, so it is certainly the better deal.

The Verdict

Hop only sporadically has the magic a movie about the Easter Bunny should have and the end result is a movie that might be a little dull for younger kids, but one aimed too low for teens and adults. It's not a complete miss, but I'm not 100% sold its worth more than a rental, even if you have kids of the right demographic. If you are intent on buying, then the Blu-ray Combo Pack is clearly the better deal than the DVD or DVD Double-Pack.

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Filed under: Video Review, Hop