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I don’t see many animated movies, given that I am well over the age of 14 and have no nieces or nephews to take to them. (It cuts down my workload considerably.) But I made an exception for this because it is being promoted as being from the makers of Despicable Me, which I liked (and who didn’t?). That information isn’t wholly incorrect, but it is misleading. The true creators of Despicable Me were French animators Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud. Hop, on the other hand, is a product of the same studio, but the creative work was done by the Rhythm and Hues effects house, who have previously given us such second-rate fare as Marmaduke and the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies.

Mixing live and computer-animated characters, Hop has the son of the Easter Bunny (voiced by Russell Brand) running away from his destiny to take over his dad’s role as a springtime Santa who delivers candy around the world. (Except China.) Because he would prefer to be a rock and roll drummer, he heads for Los Angeles, where he is taken in by a slacker (James Marsden) who as a child saw the Easter Bunny on his lawn. I’m giving away nothing to reveal that he takes over the role himself—he announces such before the opening credits.

Perhaps there were projection problems at the screening I attended, but the film I saw was as dark as a 3D movie viewed without the glasses. Dispiritedly borrowing from The Santa Clause, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Despicable Me (whose Minions are replaced by yellow chicks running the “Easter Factory”), Hop is a dully inoffensive marketing effort disguised as a movie. (Walmart has announced it will be selling 100 Hop-related products for Easter: The movie is pretty much a commercial aimed at your kids.) It seems to me that it’s likely to offend Christians by playing up Easter as a secular holiday, and that’s a big mistake: Christmas may now be a universal holiday, but how many non-Christians care about Easter?

m. faust

Watch the trailer for Hop

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